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National referendum.

OTTAWA--26 October 1992

Canadians, it seems, are in a grumpy mood; they don't like the Charlottetown Accord any more than they liked Meech Lake. Three quarters of eligible Canadians have voted in the referendum on the Charlottetown Accord and most turned it down. But, is the result a verdict on the agreement, or on the politicians who negotiated it?

One of the major reasons Meech Lake was unpopular was because it was drawn up "By 11 white guys behind closed doors." Prime Minister Brian Mulroney said he wasn't going to make that mistake again, and then promptly made the same mistake again. For all its apparent consultation with citizens through those endless committees, Charlottetown is primarily a deal among politicians made behind closed doors. Just about every elite in Canada was in support of the Charlottetown Accord: all major political parties, big business, organized labour, the Assembly of First Nations, all provincial governments.

But, citizens don't like it.

It's fair to say that some Canadians have voted against the Accord for the wrong reasons: dislike of the Prime Minister and his party, prejudice against Quebec. But, a huge number of Canadians studied the complex agreement, thought about its flaws and virtues, and agonized over a final decision. Voting against the Charlottetown Accord are: British Columbia (68% against), Alberta (60%), Saskatchewan (55%), Manitoba (55%), Nova Scotia (51%), Yukon (56%), and Indians on reserve (61%). Ontario voters are split right down the middle, with a tiny majority in favour. Also, in favour are: New Brunswick (61% support), Prince Edward Island (74%), Newfoundland (63%), and Northwest Territories (61%).

However, this time it cannot be alleged that Quebeckers have been rejected by the rest of Canada, that the rest of Canada has been rejected by Quebec, or that Aboriginal peoples have been rejected by non-Aboriginal peoples.

HER MAJESTY'S LOYAL OPPOSITION

By the time the referendum on the Charlottetown Accord rolled around, Brian Mulroney had become the most unpopular prime minister in Canadian history. He was known to all but a tiny number of his most loyal supporters as "Lyin' Brian."

In February 1993, Mr. Mulroney resigned. Kim Campbell became prime minister in June 1995, and she called a federal election a few months later. The Conservative Party, which Mr. Mulroney had led, was humiliated at the polls by winning just two seats fin the previous federal election of 1988 the Conservatives had won 169 seats).

The Conservative vote in Western Canada went to the Reform Party, which won 52 seats. But, strangest of all was the vote in Quebec. There, the Bloc Quebecois won 54 seats, the second highest number of seats of any patty. This meant that the Bloc Quebecois, a patty dedicated to the separation of Quebec from Canada, formed the official opposition. pretty darned weird turn of events, to see politicians pledged to breaking up the country swearing loyalty and allegiance to that same country.
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Title Annotation:Charlottetown Accord
Publication:Canada and the World Backgrounder
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Oct 1, 2002
Words:484
Previous Article:Charlottetown Accord.
Next Article:October 1995 Referendum.
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