Thirty years after pivotal constitutional negotiations, an Edmonton
conference brings together many of the original participants to consider
what happened and how it changed Canadian history.
After many decades of endless and futile wrangling about the constitution, in just four very tense days in early November of 1981, the governments of Canada finally succeeded in making the constitution fully Canadian.
Exactly 30 years later, the University of Alberta brought many of the original participants together, in an event called The Patriation Negotiations Conference
One excited political scientist called it a "constitution fantasy camp", a sort of hall of fame event for constitution fans. There were three of the provincial premiers from 1981, a handful of deputy ministers and key advisors and lobbyists, two drafters of the actual document, and even one member of the now legendary "kitchen accord."
They told stories about what happened and why and when, and how everything finally came together. They talked about what's been called the Night of the Long Knives, the moment when all the governments except Quebec reached agreement. They sorted through conflicting and confusing narratives, trying to figure out just how important the famed 'kitchen accord' actually was, and they debated how those four historic days in Ottawa changed Canada.
IDEAS was there, recording the talks and panels, and interviewing many of the key participants.Participants in the program:Jim Horsman
, Minister of Advanced Education, Government of AlbertaJohn Buchanan
, Premier of Nova Scotia, 1978-88Janine Brodie
, Professor of Political Economy and Social Governance, University of AlbertaGuy Laforest
, Professor of Political Science, Université LavalPeter Lougheed
, Premier of Alberta, 1971-85Howard Leeson
, Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Government of Saskatchewan, Political Scientist, University of Regina, author of The Patriation Minute
s Roy Romanow
, Attorney General, Government of SaskatchewanEdward Goldenberg
, Special Constitutional Advisor to Minister of Justice, Government of CanadaBrian Peckford
, Premier of Newfoundland, 1979-89Mary Dawson
, Drafter of the patriation package (Constitution Act, 1982)Marilou McPhedran
, co-leader, the Ad Hoc Committee of Canadian Women on the Constitution, 1980-82Judith Erola
, Minister for the Status of Women, Government of CanadaNeil Sterritt
, President of the Gitxsan-Wet'suwet'en Tribal Council, 1981-87Chantal Hébert
, national affairs writer, Toronto StarPeter Russell
, author, The Constitutional Odyssey