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Meech Lake: Defending Newfoundland

The Story

The finger-pointing has begun. The pro-accord forces blame Newfoundland's Clyde Wells for reneging on his pledge to take the accord to his provincial legislature. Wells, who has long been a vocal opponent of the accord, insists that Newfoundland had a right to reject the accord. Frustrated with "manipulative" pressure tactics, Wells refuses responsibility for the accord's failure. In this CBC Television interview, the exasperated premier explains why he rejected the Meech Lake accord.

Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television News Special
Broadcast Date: June 22, 1990
Guest(s): Clyde Wells
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Duration: 6:20

Did You know?

• "Mr. Wells signed a formal constitutional instrument before the people of Canada committing his province to either hold a referendum on Meech, or a vote in the house of assembly. He did not attach conditions to it; the commitment was unequivocal. He cancelled the vote - he dishonoured his signature. He'll have to live with the consequences." - Brian Mulroney, Maclean's, June 16, 2000.

• To many English Canadians, Wells was deemed a hero for rejecting the accord. Supporters of Wells liked his unwavering opposition to Quebec's constitutional veto and his insistence on an elected Senate. He received thousands of letters of encouragement. Two years after the death of Meech, Wells was unapologetic in a Maclean's interview. "Newfoundland compromised and compromised and compromised - and there was not a single iota of compromise by Quebec."

• Former Ontario premier David Peterson lamented the death of the accord. "It will become recognized as one of those seminal events, not unlike the death of Louis Riel," he said in a 1992 Maclean's interview. "The abrogation of Meech has similarly realigned Canadian politics, regionalizing the country and creating such essentially racist movements as the Bloc Québécois and the Reform parties. Our entire political structure has been recast and realigned."


Constitutional Discord: Meech Lake more