CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: Mock Television News Program

History, Political Science, English Language Arts
2 to 3 lessons
To examine the positions of political leaders involved in the debate over the Meech Lake Accord
Students create and present television sound bites from key figures involved in the Meech Lake Constitutional Accord in 1990.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring

Ask students to share any experiences they have had watching documentaries and live broadcasts of major political events, such as elections, news conferences, and party conventions.

Ask: What is a sound bite? Provide the students with examples of sound bites and describe how they can be used in context or taken out of context, and what effect this has.

Ask students to watch one television news program during the week and keep a record of any sound bites that they hear, listing who spoke and what was said.

 Discuss the Meech Lake Accord debate with the students, outlining the main purpose of the meeting and the main sources of dissent. Model how to write one or two sound bites that might have come from the debate.

Outline the Opportunity

Have students browse through the clips on the CBC Digital Archives website on the topic Constitutional Discord: Meech Lake. Invite them to work in groups to invent and write "sound bites" that represent each key development in the Meech Lake Accord debates. They can choose to invent quotes from key political figures, such as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, New Brunswick Premier Frank McKenna, Newfoundland Premier Clyde Wells, Bloc Québécois leader Lucien Bouchard, federal MP Jean Charest, Ontario Premier David Peterson, Manitoba Premier Gary Filmon, Manitoba MLA Elijah Harper, and Parti Québécois leader Jacques Parizeau.


They might include invented quotes from real or invented interviewers and political commentators as a way to provide background information, analysis, and impressions of the main developments in the negotiations and their results. They can also include invented quotes from "ordinary Canadian citizens," such as aboriginal people, pro-independence Quebecois, and Newfoundlanders, in order to represent a range of different views on the Meech Lake Accord. (Remind them to attribute all the quotes).

Have students read aloud and tape the sound bites, and, if they wish, create visual aids, such as photographs or drawings. Invite students to present their work. Conclude with a class review of the main events during the Meech Lake Accord debate, and briefly discuss the reasons for the failure of the Accord.

Revisit and Reflect

Have students discuss their views about the roles that different political leaders played in the events leading up to the failure of the accord, how they would evaluate them (either negatively or positively), and their reasons for doing so.

Ask: Do you think sound bites give an accurate summary of someone's position? How can a sound bite be used to influence a listener or viewer?


Students can write fictitious sound bites from three political figures who are commenting in 2010 on the failure of the Meech Lake Accord and its importance in Canada's history.

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