THE HISTORY OF CANADA
|Centennial of Canadian Confederation
The year 1967 marked the 100th anniversary of the British North America Act, which had been proclaimed on July 1, 1867, and established the basis for the modern state of Canada. A giant birthday party on Parliament Hill in Ottawa was attended by Queen Elizabeth II. A highlight of the year was the Universal and International Exhibition, known as Expo '67, held in Montreal. Also to mark the centennial, Winnipeg, Man., was host to the fifth Pan-American Games, and the Order of Canada was instituted to reward Canadians for outstanding merit and service.
In 1982 the British North America Act was replaced by a new constitution for the government of Canada. Queen Elizabeth visited Parliament Hill to proclaim the document. This completed the transfer of constitutional powers from Great Britain to Canada.
Beginning in the 1960s Quebec was the center of militant agitation to separate it from Canada and establish a French-speaking nation. In 1969 French and English were both declared the official languages of Canada. In 1970 terrorist acts by alleged separatists were climaxed by the kidnapping and murder of Quebec's minister of labor and immigration, Pierre Laporte. The federal government sent in troops and temporarily suspended civil liberties. In 1974 French became the official language of the province.
A party pledged to Quebec separatism won the 1976 provincial election and passed several measures to strengthen the movement. Under a controversial law adopted in 1977, education in English-language schools was greatly restricted. The charter also changed English place-names and imposed French as the language of business, court judgments, laws, government regulations, and public institutions.
Although the separatist party retained power, a referendum to make the province an independent country was rejected by the Quebec voters in 1980. The Quebec government opposed the 1982 constitution, which included a provision for freedom of language in education, and unsuccessfully sought a veto over constitutional change. In 1984 the Supreme Court ruled against Quebec's schooling restrictions.
In 1987 the Meech Lake constitutional accord recognized Quebec as a "distinct society" and transferred extensive new powers to all the provinces. Quebec promised that it would accept the 1982 constitution if the accord was approved by all the rest of the provinces. The House of Commons ratified the Meech Lake accord on June 22, 1988, but the accord died on June 23, 1990, after Newfoundland and Manitoba withheld their support. A new set of constitutional proposals hammered out by a parliamentary committee was agreed upon in 1992. They called for decentralization of federal powers, an elected Senate, and special recognition of Quebec as a distinct society. In a referendum held in October 1992, Canadians decisively turned down the constitutional changes. Quebec voters narrowly rejected secession from Canada in a 1995 referendum.
|Discovery of Canada|