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Lesson Plan:

For Teachers: The Campaign for Free Trade in the 1988 Federal Election

Type: Assignment
Grades: Grades 11-12
Duration: 1 to 2 lessons
Purpose: To prepare political materials from a given point of view
Summary: Students will create campaign materials in role as a political party or interest group involved in the debate over free trade during the 1988 federal election.

Before Exploring

Ask students to think about a recent Canadian federal or provincial election and to brainstorm and list the main issues of the election. Then ask: What kinds of issues usually dominate election campaigns? Does a single topic usually become the focus of voters' and politicians' attention during a campaign? Why or why not?

Outline the Opportunity

Students will work in five groups. Assign each group one of the following parties or interest groups involved in the debate over free trade during the 1988 federal election campaign:

Progressive Conservative Party (Brian Mulroney)

Liberal Party (John Turner)

New Democratic Party (Ed Broadbent)

Council of Canadians (Maude Barlow)

Business Council on National Issues

Groups should review the clips titled "How much should one drink...", "Making sense of it all", "Signed on the dotted line" and "Betting on free trade".

In role as the assigned party or interest group, each group will prepare and present a set of campaign materials (for example, posters, signs, video) that shows its position on free trade with the United States.

Revisit and Reflect

After the campaign presentations, take a class vote, having each student vote for the statement they found most convincing or effective. After the vote, lead a discussion on why students voted as they did. Which was more effective, the argument or the flair of the campaign? Did they vote as they would have before the campaign began? Would they consider only one issue, or are there many issues to take into consideration when voting?


Students can write a newspaper article or editorial on the effect the free trade campaigns had on the outcome of the 1988 federal elections.