Canada's great constitutional drama, thirty years after
Host Chris Hall reflects on the efforts to save the Meech Lake Accord
For one extraordinary week in June 1990, the country's first ministers descended on the Government Conference Centre (now the Senate of Canada Building) in downtown Ottawa to negotiate, cajole and compromise in an effort to save the Meech Lake Accord.
The accord got its name from the meeting place where, three years earlier, the federal and provincial governments of the day all agreed to a plan that would allow Quebec to sign on to the 1982 Constitution.
Its main provisions included a promise of Senate reform as well as a commitment to allowing provinces to opt out of shared-cost programs while still receiving federal money if they set up comparable programs of their own.
One of the most contentious provisions in the deal, of course, was the one recognizing Quebec as a distinct society.
Chris Hall, host of CBC Radio's The House, walks through some of his own memories of reporting on that dramatic week. He talks to former Ontario premier David Peterson and former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna about their experiences during those high-stakes negotiations — and why they're convinced "nobody will touch this ever again."
LISTEN | Host Chris Hall reflects on the week-long attempt to save the Meech Lake Accord