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Brian Mulroney beseeches Canadians to accept the Meech Lake Accord

The Story

The clock is ticking on Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's vision for uniting the country. His Meech Lake Accord is at an impasse, and in just 90 days, it will expire. In an address carried by all CBC networks, the prime minister speaks directly to Canadians. As we hear in this clip, he appeals to the provinces to sign the agreement, promising to reach out to native and women's groups through a companion resolution. He asks all Canadians to put aside longstanding differences, and "look into their hearts and see the magnificent country we have built together."

Medium: Radio
Program: CBC Radio News Special
Broadcast Date: March 22, 1990
Guest: Brian Mulroney
Duration: 11:57

Did You know?

• Quebec's exclusion from the left some serious unfinished business in Ottawa. In 1987, the first ministers returned to the constitutional bargaining table at Meech Lake in Quebec. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, they hoped to reach a deal that would bring Quebec back into the constitutional fold.

• But the tentative April 1987 agreement, which recognized Quebec as a "distinct society" and provided more power for the provinces, quickly showed its cracks. In May, federal Liberal leader John Turner expressed misgivings over Senate reforms. NDP leader Ed Broadbent worried that Canada's native people were excluded from the negotiations. And separatist Parti Québécois leader Jacques Parizeau balked at negotiating with the federalists.

• Marathon negotiations continued as the June 23, 1990 deadline approached, with dissent only growing as public hearings were held in New Brunswick and Manitoba. Liberal Clyde Wells became the new premier of Newfoundland, rescinding his province's approval for the accord.

• Less than a week after this nation-wide address by the prime minister, a special committee of the House of Commons, chaired by Jean Charest, was called to settle the constitutional stalemate with Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Manitoba.

• But by then, Clyde Wells had emerged as a popular champion of the anti-Meech movement. And in May, federal environment minister Lucien Bouchard resigned over the suggestion that Quebec's veto power be revoked.

• On June 3, 1990, Mulroney and the 10 provincial premiers gathered in Ottawa for another marathon negotiating session. Seven days later, Mulroney announced that an agreement had been reached. But it depended on a vote of support from the people of Newfoundland, Manitoba and New Brunswick.

• On June 12, Manitoba MLA Elijah Harper, frustrated with the exclusion of native issues in the accord talks, refused to allow debate to start early in the legislature. That imposed an impossible timeline to reach a consensus, and soon after, Clyde Wells announced that he would not seek a vote of approval in his legislature. The Meech Lake accord was dead.

• On June 23, Mulroney once again took to the airwaves to address the failure of his accord.


Addressing the Nation: Prime Ministers of Canada more