Lesson Plan: For Teachers: Constitutional Discord: Meech Lake
Ask students to explain the meaning of the term "constitution." Ask or review whether Canada has its own constitution and if there was ever a time when it did not have one. Ask them to share any knowledge they have of the Meech Lake Constitutional Accord and the Canadian Constitution and Charter of Rights and Freedoms, enacted in 1982, and the reasons why the process of constitutional reform in Canada was not completed at that time. Finally, have them name any constitutional issues that remain unresolved or controversial in Canada at this time.
Outline the Opportunity
Direct students to the CBC Digital
Archives website to view the topic Constitutional
Discord: Meech Lake. Have them browse the site for as much time as they
require to complete this activity.
Have students collect photos of the following individuals who were involved in the negotiations leading up to the Meech Lake Constitutional Accord and its ultimate failure: Brian Mulroney, Pierre Trudeau, Robert Bourassa, Clyde Wells, Lucien Bouchard, Jean Charest, David Peterson, Gary Filmon, and Elijah Harper.
Present these photos as the "cast of characters" in the Meech Lake drama. Ask students to identify each of them, and then write a brief summary of each character's role in the drama. Have students work in pairs or small groups to research the role each of these figures played in the drama of Meech Lake.
In order for students to identify and understand the main background to and issues involved in the Meech Lake drama, divide the class into two groups to prepare and present storyboards to the class on this topic.
One group will draw up a storyboard for the prequel to the Meech Lake drama, summarizing the main events of the 1982 Constitution and the remaining problems after it was signed. This group's role will be to set the stage for the Meech Lake Accord, pointing out the major unresolved issues from 1982 (e.g. Quebec's refusal to sign the Constitution and the reasons why), and why Meech was seen as a possible resolution to these problems.
The second group will draw up a storyboard on the dramatic events of the Meech Lake Accord from its initial negotiation in 1987 to its ultimate failure in 1990. This group will be responsible for identifying the major figures involved in the drama and for explaining and defining the main terms and issues in the conflict. Students write their information on self-stick notes and organize it on their storyboards.
Each group appoints a director to help them dramatize their information, and presents it to the other group chronologically. The dramatic presentations to the class should highlight the role of the main individuals involved, the dramatic nature of the events from 1982 to 1990, the importance of the issues for Canada, and the results of the failure of the accord in June 1990.
Revisit and Reflect
Following the presentation, invite students to reflect on what they learned and list as a class any questions they would still like to answer about the events leading up to or during the Meech Lake Accord.
Students can prepare and present a storyboard entitled "Sequel to Meech Lake," creating an imaginary story of what followed the defeat of the Meech Lake Accord in 1990 and speculating on what might have happened if it had actually been approved at that time.