Lesson Plan: For Teachers: The Bedrooms of the Nation
Introduce the following quotations
from Pierre Trudeau: "There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the
nation" and "What's done in private between two consenting adults doesn't
concern the Criminal Code."
Ask students what they think he meant by this. Ask:
Why would these beliefs be controversial in 1967? Would they be controversial
Explain that Trudeau was referring to the decriminalization of homosexual acts performed in private. Other controversial aspects of the Omnibus Bill concern revisions to divorce and abortion laws. Students will explore these issues in groups, and should act with a historian's objective, professional demeanour. Each member of the group must participate fully, ask questions to clarify ideas, and not allow the debate to become personal.
Outline the Opportunity
groups of four select one of the controversial aspects of the Omnibus bill.
Each group will divide into pairs to take opposing sides and will then research
their topic on the subject by browsing the topic Trudeau's
Omnibus Bill: Challenging Canadian Taboos on the CBC Digitial Archives website.
Pairs should use information from the site to prepare their position and plan how to best defend their position. Pairs then present their position to their group, with the opposing pair posing questions. Each group should discuss the controversy, then switch roles with the other pair and take the opposing position to the one they began with. Groups can continue their discussion, then outline and write a report to analyze the controversy from both points of view.
Revisit and Reflect
Have groups present their reports to the class. As a class, summarize some of the key points presented. Ask: Why would Trudeau choose to include controversial issues in a huge law that includes such diverse topics as legalization of lotteries, gun ownership restrictions, and breathalyzer tests? What were the advantages of this approach?
Students can write a personal journal response about the controversial aspects of the bill. Students can reflect on how they felt in their groups when they presented opinions that were not their own. Have them assess how effectively they were able to keep an objective point of view.