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Egyptian President Mubarak

President Mubarak of Egypt received the right, due to an emergency law,

to suspend constitutional rights, legalize censorship, limit any non-governmental political activity, and imprison individuals whom he pleases without any reasoning. This man came into office in 1981, and used terrorism as an excuse to use and extent emergency law; he’s essentially ruling Egypt as a dictator. Starting on January 25, 2011, protests against Mubarak was happening all over Egypt. Rioters and protesters wanted Mubarak to be expelled from his office, blaming him for human rights abuse. These riots gradually became more and more violent. Eventually, it came to a point where riot police using non-lethal weapons weren’t enough, in that the military was issued to suppress the protests. These protestors were stubborn, and refused to quit unless Mubarak resigned by Monday. In response to this, Mubarak claimed that he would not run in the upcoming election in September. However, people feared that he would use this time in between to select someone of his liking, restarting the cycle once more. However, to every story, there are two sides. There are some supporters of Mubarak who believe he’s trying to improve Egypt and believe the protestors simply want to overthrow Mubarak and bring chaos to this nation. Thus, there were multiple conflicts between these two groups, causing three deaths and hundreds injured.

Rioters wanting Mubarak to step down immediately

This news is very critical to read and analyze, because it relates to human rights and democracy, two elements Canada is said to have. Mubarak uses terrorism has a tool to extend martial law, which ultimately permits Mubarak to suspend all constitutional rights. In other words, Mubarak have reigned over Egypt as a dictator. While he was ruling, there was legal censorship, hardly any free elections and free speech, corruption, and accusations of police brutality. Plus, anyone could be jailed without any charges or evidence; in other words, you could be walking down the street, and a police officer could simply come up to you, hand-cuff you, and send you to jail. These occurrences in Egypt are a demonstration of violation of civil rights. Having censorship and not having any free elections disable citizens to view their opinions. In addition, the government hardly took action when the police was accused of being unjust and corrupt. And obviously, giving Mubarak the right to jail anyone he pleases is an offense to civil rights.  In essence, by using the emergency law to run the country to his pleasure, Mubarak have been essentially ruling  the country under dictatorship. Instead, Egypt’s government must change to a more democratic nation, so that the people are able to elect a leader who reflects the peoples’ views and values.

VSB chair Patti Bacchus

The Vancouver School Board is considering adopting a separate mini-school program in high schools for First Nations, so that more students would stay in school. According to Board Chair Patti Bacchus,  Aboriginal students are continuously dropping out of school; the numbers are increasing by the year. “Our graduation rates are very flat, are very discouraging. We hear too often students saying I didn’t belong, people didn’t understand me,” she said. This mini-school type program is hoped to be implemented in secondary school by September 2012. Ina Campbell is a First Nations mother, who has five children. She claims that this program should be incorporated into the school system as soon as possible, stating that the current education system doesn’t suit her kids. She wants teachers who understand the First Nations cultures and values. “I’ve been on a real fight to have my children educated with the same opportunities – to get an education – and I don’t see that happening,” Campbell said.

A mini-school program for First Nations may have help them stay in school

This new system may seem like a possibility for First Nation students to be more successful in school. However, if you look at this system in a different perspective, you are essentially isolating and segregating the First Nations away from the mainstream. By giving them this “special program,” the VSB is separating the First Nations from the other students of society. Plus, when learning in an environment with First Nations as classmates and teachers, and having the education modified so it meets the First Nations cultural and traditional needs, it will hinder the students’ performance at post-secondary. This is because once a student becomes accustomed to learning in a “special” environment with First Nations, they will have hard time adapting to the cultures and values of the mainstream society in both the work-force and post-secondary. In essence, by adopting this mini-school program for First Nations, you are both benefiting them in a way, while at the same time, isolating them from the mainstream, would could prove to be detrimental in the long run.

Stephanie Lozinski

A Winnipeg waitress was fired from her job as a server in a St. Boniface-area restaurant because she completely shaved her head off. Stephanie Lozinski, a Polish 21 year old female, did this on New Year’s Eve in support of her uncle drying from cancer. Unfortunately, he passed away 2 weeks ago. Regardless of the fact that she wore various clothing accessories, such as scarfs and wigs when waiting tables, she was fired several weeks after she shaved her head, her boss claiming her appearance was “unacceptable.”

She believes this event to be quite unfair and disrespectful. “I think that women should be able to express themselves in any way that a man could and if a man can shave his head then I should be able to,” she reported. “Also, that appearance has nothing to do with job performance.” Lozinski doesn’t wish to regain her job back, but would like to spread the awareness of unfair treatment she received with others.

“I just think that what they did was inappropriate and offensive and if they don’t share my values, then I don’t think I should be working there.”

Lozinski reported this incident to the Manitoba Human Rights Commission but was rejected. The commission told her that the restaurant has all the right to fire her due to her “unacceptable” appearance. In addition, because Lozinski voluntarily shaved her head off, it does not concern human rights.

Arguments about such cases are quite rare, according to the group that represents Manitoba restaurant owners.

“I’ve been here for four years and it’s the first time I’ve heard of it,” said Scott Jocelyn, executive director of the Manitoba Restaurant and Food Services Association.

He advises that employers set a solid foundation and clear rules and regulations when hiring employees.

“I think it’s important that you lay down the groundwork on issues like this so that people understand there’s an expectation, and if something happens to change that, I guess you’re always hopeful that people can come to some kind of compromise that would work well for both sides.”

An example of a similar case is when a waitress in Owen Sound, Ontario named Stacey Fearnall, was required to take a leave of absence after she shaved her head off for a cancer fundraiser in 2008. This caused a huge uproar among the public, and thus, her boss apologized soon afterwards.

I believe this is newsworthy because this shows the sexism we are required to face in our current society. Both men and women should be able to shave their heads off without society criticizing the women for being bald.  Not only that, we have been discussing about human rights in our class and how sexism as well as racism is found so evidently in our society.

There should be no sexism in our society.

Now, this incident shows a bigger picture in society we are all indulged by daily: sexism. This is one problem society has faced, is facing now, and will most likely face in the future for a very long time. In this incident, Lozinski is just an example where she wants to challenge society’s sexism by shaving her head off for the support of her uncle. However, society disagrees greatly (her boss and the Human Rights Association) and rejects the idea of a women with no hair, and fires her.  This suggests how persistent society is upon its sexists rules and how breaking them could mean various consequences, for instance, being fired.

By reading this article, I have understood how sexism affects individuals in our society. In our classroom, we have discussed about sexism and how it affects society but I couldn’t grasp a full understanding of it until I read this article. Now, I have a much clearer understanding of how sexism affects people’s views and beliefs. The authors were able to report this incident with great evidence, such as the multiple quotes given by Lizonski. Not only that, I like how the author referenced to another similar incident where Stacey Fearnall was required to take a leave of absence after she shaved her head off for a cancer fundraiser in 2008.  By doing this, I can infer that society has been sexist for a very long time and a similar incident has occurred elsewhere and not only in Winnipeg. Plus, the article includes a statement from the executive director of the Manitoba Restaurant and Food Services Association, Scott Jocelyn, saying, “I’ve been here for four years and it’s the first time I’ve heard of it.” This shows that there are people who were surprised about how she was fired just because she shaved her head. In relation, the Manitoba Human Rights Association was included in the article. This gives us the perspectives from 3 people, Lizonski, Jocelyn, and the Human Rights Association, which made the article more reliable due to the various sources utilized, and not only 1, which may’ve made this article biased. If the authors only used Lizonski as the source, then it would’ve been a biased argument, where the whole article would discuss about her beliefs. But with the inclusion of Jocelyn and the Human Rights Association, the argument became more balanced where the perspectives from both sides of the story were shown.

Lizonski portrayed her aggravated feeling quite well in quotes, such as when she said “I just think that what they did was inappropriate and offensive and if they don’t share my values, then I don’t think I should be working there.” With these quotes, I was able to understand her pain of having society go against her personal beliefs. She is simply trying to support her dying uncle but society rejects it to such a level where she was fired, which I feel to be highly unacceptable. If men are not criticized for shaving their head, then I believe women should not be either. I am quite astounded how both her boss and the Human Rights Association have a similar view. Just because it doesn’t concern human rights doesn’t mean it’s ethical and reasonable. In my perspective, I believe Lizonski should’ve never been fired and continued to work regularly.

Now, the question really is: why does society discourage women from shaving their head? This is an interesting question, but I believe that because most female celebrities have long, luscious hair and people (society) wants to be as “attractive” as them, they pursue whatever they do. Not only that, advertisements and propaganda all display women with long hair, and thus society continues to act such ways. Plus, many people simply find women with long hair more attractive than women with extremely short/no hair.

I believe this is article is newsworthy because this shows the sexism we are required to face in our current society. Both men and women should be able to shave their heads off without society criticizing the women for being bald.  Not only that, we have been discussing about human rights in our class and how sexism and racism is found so evidently in our society and how it affects people’s views and beliefs.

Former Liberal Party Leader, Michael Ignatieff

On May 1, 2011, Canada voted for their government and their prime minister. Surprising results came out of the 2011 elections. The Liberal Party lost many seats, including Ignatieff’s seat, who after the election resignated from his position as the leader of the party. The Green Party, as a surprise to many people, received a seat this year. However, the most significant result of the 2011 elections was how the Conservative Party was elected as Canada’s majority government. For a very long time, Canada had a minority conservative government, but now, we have a majority government, which essentially means this party can do whatever they please.

Obviously, for conservative voters, this is a very good news. Finally, will things get done without any opposition. However, for all the other voters that are non-conservative, this means bad news. The nation they live in will not only be run on values that are different from theirs, but no one can stop them if it’s something extreme. This is outcome of having a majority government (i.e. things can be accomplished but at the same time, if they choose to do something drastic, no one can stop them). Prime Minster Stephen Harper, due to the outcome of this election, now has a huge amount of power.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

US Navy Seals

Osama Bin Laden is one of the most hated terrorists in the world, mainly because of his execution of 911. However, this man, after so many years, had been finally annihilated during a crossfire by the US Navy Seals in Abbottobad on May 2, 2011. Many think of this as wonderful, whereas others deem this to be something depressing. It all depends on which part of the world you are in and what values you have.

Osama was in his compound in Abbottobad, along with his family and some of his courier members. Osama had essentially a personal courier so that he could communicate with others without being caught. The US had been gathering intelligence on the whereabouts of this man by interrogating  other people Osama may know, such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the alleged operational leader of the al-Qaeda. Eventually, the US Navy Seals, along with the members from the CIA, were able to figure out the location of Osama Bin Laden. Once US President Obama approved of raiding the compound, within 38 minutes, Osama was killed, along with his 12-year-old daughter, and some of the members from his courier. Most women and children were secured and left to be dealthy by Pakistani police.

The death of one of the most wanted man in the world may seem like a victory to North America, but to Middle East, it seems like a day of mourning. The al-Qaeda responded to his incident by saying they will avenge his death. To many people, particularly in the Middle East, Osama was a hero figure, and having him die saddened many. But, of course, in North America, after the 911 incident, almost everyone wanted this man to die. In essence, values and one’s perspective is what influences the response of a major event, such as the death of this man.

Osama Bin Laden

Jewish Folk

Quebec was a province of Catholicism and its government was very conservative (not the big C, but the little c).  It truly believes in preserving old customs, and following traditions that were made hundreds of years ago. The cultural/religious differences between French Canadians and Jewish folk was the main reason the French-Canadians were anti-Semitic (against Jews).

The Jews aren’t the only opposition of the French, in terms of religion. Most of the British were Protestant and there would always be religious conflicts between the Catholics (French) and the Protestants (British).

Now, the question lies: How did the French and the British start fighting and hating each other? Well, it started when French explorers (Champlain, Cartier, et al) claimed Canada for France. With this declaration, French civilization flourished for approximately 200 years.

Samuel de Champlain

In 1756, the Seven Years’ War started, which was a battle caused by the global conflict between Britain, France, and their respective colonies. It ended in seven years (hence the name) in 1763, with the British being victorious, and ending the French rule in Canada. The British defeated the French in the Plains of Abraham, and Canada becomes a British colony under the Treaty of Paris. The British do permit the French to pursue their Catholic faith and their culture (language and civil law).

In 1774, the Quebec Act was launched that further entrenches the rights of French Canadians. About a century later, in 1867, Quebec joins the Confederation, providing that the French rights would be protected. However, certain events and occurrences really dissatisfied the French Canadians. Some of these events include:

  • Riel uprising
  • Manitoba schools controversy
  • Boer War (a war where the Dutch were fighting against the British)
  • Naval Crisis (under Laurier)

The Anglo society in Quebec flourished under the British rule, whereas the French chose to be become isolated and adhere to their own culture.

The French culture that the French strongly adhered to are known as the 3F’s & C:

Faith

  • Regardless of British settlement in Quebec, Roman Catholic faith remained the dominant religion in the province until the mid-20th century
  • The Protestant and the Catholics had many conflicts which led to conflicts throughout Europe (Seven Years’ Wars, etc.)
  • The Church was involved in all aspects of French life: education, politics, land use, labour, etc.

Farm

  • Until the mid-20th century, most of French Canada had been rural, based on a long standing tradition of French Seignurial System
  • Farming is the central economic unit of French society and is the livelihood approved by the Church

Family

  • French Canadian families are extremely large, compared to British families
  • Catholicism disapproves of birth-control (a message sent from the Church)
  • Large families are required to work family farms

Civil Law

  • The foundation of this law came out of the French Revolution, often referred to as Napoleanic code (based on the Roman Law)
  • This law covers private matters only: the legal attributes of a person (e.g. name, age of majority, etc); the relationship between individuals (e.g. marriage, adoption, parentage); property (e.g. possession, land boundaries); the legal institutions, governing or administrating these relationships (e.g. wills, sales, leases, partnerships); plain language, easy to understand and apply

The British were the dominant group in Canada. The French, however, were quite inferior to the British. They lost many of their rights, including their right to learn and be educated in the French language at schools (Bill 17).  Because of this hierarchy, the French had an intense hatred towards Britain. Regardless of their social status, the French had a huge amount of resources that the English required to survive and for the economy to be sustainable.

First World War

Canada’s affairs were still regulated by the British under the Confederation Act, and thus the declaration of war in 1914 led Canada into the First World War. At first, the British requested the French to join the fight, and promised there would be no conscription, according to Robert Gordon. However, the French hate the British. They wanted to be away from the British, not fight and die for them. They refused to fight in the war. The religious group in Manitoba, along with the Metis (related to Awmish) were pacifists; they don’t want to fight at all. This went on for some time, until in 1917, Robert Gordon was then forced to issue a conscription, which forced young men to go to war in Europe.

However, this conscription wasn’t very easy to pass. At first, for obvious reasons, almost no one, with the exception of the British, supported the idea of conscription. So, Robert Gordon cleverly thought of a way for more supporters of the conscription, and he issued the Military Voters Act. This Act extended the right to vote to all men and women in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Soldiers in war obviously would like to have more reinforcement, so the majority of them agreed to conscription. However, there still was more no than yes. So, Robert enacted the War-time Elections Act. This Act extended the right to the mothers, wives, and sisters of the soldiers serving, while at the same refusing that right to citizens from enemy countries. Mothers of soldiers would support conscription, since it would mean her son would return home more quickly. Along with these acts, propaganda played a a key role in promoting the idea of conscription and getting more voters to say yes to it.

The introduction of conscription brought about huge controversy.  Due to the conscription, it splits the country into 3 groups: the Anglos, the Prairie (farmers), and the French (Quebecois).  From the British’s perspective, the conscription is obviously reasonable. They argued that many soldiers were dying in Europe, and so they needed more solders. Because no one volunteered to do so, they were forced to enact the conscription. Plus, Prime Minister Trudeau’s famous quote, “When Great Britain is at war, Canada is at war, and there is no difference at all.” This quote is self-explanatory, where Trudeau explains how if the British are at our, Canada, which includes the French should definitely join in and help them. In addition, the British believed it was the French’s duty to protect their families and relatives by fighting for them. If Canada lost the war, the British hypothesized that the Germans would invade Canada and destroy the farmlands. Plus, back then, there was a huge glory to go at war, and return from it; it was very prestigious. The British thought that if more people were sent to war, the war would end sooner; sooner you go, the sooner you will come back. These were the arguments conveyed by the British people in response to the conscription.

The farmers, however, had a much different view on the conscription. They believed that farming was the central economic unit. If young men were sent off to war, who would do the farm work? If there is no farming, then there would be little food, resulting in an inflation. Plus, farmers were quite pacifists; they did not believe in wars. Obviously, farmers are not experienced in combat, so sending them off to war is almost certain-death.

The French people argued that because of Bill 17, they weren’t able to learn English very well, and when in battlefield, having a barrier in communication can be deadly. And because they are forced to fight for a nation they hate very much, their performance will reflect their hatred, i.e. they won’t fight very well in the war. If you send people to their deaths purposely, you can expect there to be major riots.

There were many riots in streets because of the conscription.

Eventually, people became quite fed up with this conscription. People voted against this conscription, and voted for another government party, and soon this conscription was abolished.

Map of Quebec

Quebec during the first half of the 1900s was extremely conservative. The Roman Catholic Church held a huge amount of power. After the Great Depression, Canada was shifting its gear to centralisation. However, Quebec, being the conservative province it was, didn’t support this shifting. To ensure that Quebec remains conservative, it elected a new leader: Maurice Duplessis. This man was in power from 1936 to 1939, and then into power in 1944 till death (1959).

Duplessis believed there were two main points that would protect Quebec from centralisation:

  • A provincial government entrusted to a party completely divorced from the federal parties (that often considered their provincials counterparts as under their control); in this respect, Duplessis led the Union Nationale Party, a party completely independent from any other party; it was the only “all Quebec” party in the province
  • Insistence on the respect of the autonomy, fiscal or otherwise, of the province

Duplessis had a ‘banker’s conception of centralisation.  He saw himself as the guardian, indeed the custodian, of the traditional values

and of the culture of the people of Quebec. As the Premier of the French-Catholic province, he was given a sacred trust to safeguard these values and to keep them away from those who would do harm to them, change them to assimilate the people of his province into the foreign and “liberal” culture of the world that surrounded the province. Plus, if Quebec were to become centralised, then it would need to share its wealth with the rest of Canada, i.e. lose money. He also disapproved the formation of trade unions because of its communist ideologies. In essence, he didn’t want Quebec to change at all; extremely conservative.

He wrote the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Constitutional Problems, which is a report describing the problems of taxation and constitutional problems of Canada. There were 4 main points in this report:

  1. By using an inordinate proportion of the tax allocation that far exceeded the cost of federal services;
  2. By invading fields of exclusive provincial jurisdiction mainly through conditional subsidies;
  3. By securing amendments to the constitution without the consent of the provinces “as parties to the original agreement.”
  4. By using federal revenues institutions to encourage social, cultural and educational uniformity in Canada; this was called federal  “imperialism” and would result in the imposition of a cultural system incapable of oppressing American influence in the future

Some in Quebec did not want Duplessis to be in power for such a long time. Some people wanted to change, i.e. not as conservative as Duplessis was. However,  back during this time period, the Roman Catholic Church held unbelievable power. The Church was pro-conservative, and thus Duplessis was able to stay in power, no matter the opposition. Not only that, the Church had much power over the education of people. Cleverly, the Church purposely did not teach their students about critical thinking or any advanced studies, in case their students question whether God is real or not, and start rebelling.

Roman Catholic Church

The period in which Duplessis was was in rule of Quebec was referred to as “The Great Darkness,”  because there were many secrets and important facts kept away from the public; an era of corruption where Quebec made no social, political or economical advancements. In other words, Quebec was left in the dark.

The Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) was a paramilitary group, who was very left winged; they believed in socialism and nationalism. These people were considered terrorists in the eyes of the British, whereas some Quebecois saw these people as heroes. The FLQ was responsible for 8 deaths with approximately 160 violent attacks on civilians. This terrorist organization endorsed the Quebec Sovereignty Movement. This movement was essentially a political movement that wanted Quebec to separate from the rest of Canada and become an independent nation. In addition, it declared that the members of the FLQ would rebel against anyone that were considered “Anglo-saxon” imperialism. It also wanted to overthrow the current Quebec government, and along with the separation from Canada, it wanted a French-speaking society with only Francophones. This group caused much chaos, but its peak and most destructive affect on Canada was known as the October Crisis.

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau

The October Crises occurred from a chain reaction of other events which lead up to the kidnapping of two politicians: James Cross and Pierre Laporte. James was kidnapped on October 8th, and Pierre was kidnapped on October October 10th when he was playing football with his nephew on his front lawn. During this month, Premier Bourassa formally requests the government of Quebec (i.e. Prime Minister Trudeau) having “emergency powers” that allow them to “apprehend and keep in custody” people, i.e. members of the FLQ. This request ultimately resulted in the enactment of the War Measures Act. Some opposed Trudeau’s response of enacting the War Measures Act, such as Tommy Douglas who was a Social-democratic politician, but most of the public agreed with his decision.Trudeau’s famous quote “Just watch me” when asked how far he would go to stopping the FLQ. He wanted this group to be abolished as soon as possible.

In the end of the October Crisis, however, unintentionally, the FLQ strangled Pierre Laporte, killing him. This was an accident, which made the FLQ appear weak because they longer had two powerful hostages who they could use to negotiate with the government. So eventually, the FLQ were forced to disassemble to prevent any death of the members in the 1970s, with the release of James Cross unharmed.

Roman Catholic Church

While the FLQ were busy with their terrorism, Quebec was undergoing a period known as the Quiet Revolution. This revolution occurred during the 1960s. This was one of Quebec’s most important period of time, in that after the death of Duplessis in 1959, Quebec started  revolutionize, in that society became more secular. The Roman Catholic church, which one had an immense amount of power, particularly in education, now was starting to lose power. In fact, health and education affairs was now dealt with the Canadian government; the Church were relieved of this power. By doing so, the education and health system of Quebec expanded unbelievably. The Church would purposely deny teaching students about critical thinking, in fear they might grow to question whether God was real or not. However, the government expanded education, and thus more intelligent people were in society. Society in Quebec was slowly transforming from a conservative province to a nationalist during this revolution.

After Duplessis’s death, a new government was elected: a liberal government. Because of this, the Quiet Revolution was able to take place. Its leader, Lesage, changed Quebec and brought it to an era of much advancement. In 1966, there was a new election. The Liberal Party was expecting to win another election, but lost against Daniel Johnson in the conservative Union Nationale Party, a party that Duplessis created in hopes of separating from Quebec. People believed that Lesage lost due to his lack of interest in local, regional, and rural issues. This election was what stopped and interrupted Quebec’s transformation into a nationalist province.

RCMP

In Canada, there were (and still are) fewer French speakers than English speakers. The British dominated high level government positions, executive positions, such as banks, public works & utilities, military, and the police (RCMP). The French received lower income than the British, and they also received a lower quality of education, in comparing to the British. This type of discrimination is known as systematic racism (further explained in the First Nations part of the blog).

Eventually, regardless of systematic racism, Quebec was starting to form a separatist/sovereignist government. The current prime minister, Lester B. Pearson, was a peace-keeping type of person, so he formed the 1968 Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (generally referred to as the “B and B Commission”).  This commission recommended the formal recognition of French-speaking Canadians as a distinct and equal society within Canada. Plus, the Commission rejected the creation of two uniligual regions in Canada, where French would be spoken mostly in Quebec, and in the rest of the nation, English would be spoken. Instead, this Commission recommends that both languages are spoken on equal terms throughout the whole nation.

In 1968, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau came into office. Trudeau is a federalist; lefty. He believes in unity of Canada, and utterly disapproves of having Quebec separated. He believes “unity through separation.” If he provides Quebec with their wants and needs, then they will continue being part of Canada. Thus, with that in mind, he issued the Official Languages Act in 1969. This legislation declared French and English to be the official languages of Canada while requiring all federal institutions (such as government departments, agencies, and Crown corporations) to provide their serves in French or English at the customer’s choice. Plus, this Act made the office of Commissioner of Official Languages to oversee its implementation. This Act was broadened in 1988. In addition to the Official Languages Act, the federal government adopted a strategy of increasing the number of French-speaking and bilingual personnel. There were two important reasons for this initiative:

  1. To ensure all Canadians had the ability to receive any government-related services in both English and French
  2. To increase the number of French-speaking Canadians working in the federal public service

Along with those initiatives, the government launched the Official Languages in Education Program. This program provides provinces and territories funding to teach students the second language or a minority language in both official languages. Plus, French immersion education was introduced where students receive most of their education in the French. Other initiatives were taken by the government, such as the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Act, to appease the French people and to prevent any separation from occurring in Canada.

In 1974, the Quebec Liberal Government launched the Official Languages Act, which made French the official language of the province.  All these actions by the government to make the French happy and  “welcomed” and how Quebec is slowly becoming a complete dominant French province demonstrates how Canada is gradually transforming itself from a melting pot to a mosaic. No longer does French people have to be controlled by the British; they can speak and have the culture they had for generations or adopt new ones if they wish to do so.

Trudeau’s intention with all these acts and legislations was to make the French a distinct society. However, the First Nations of Canada started to become upset; they questioned why the French get their own distinct society, and they do not. Canada responds by saying if the First Nations are given the ability to make their distinct society, there would be hundreds of distinct society, making Canada a very complex nation.

Trudeau wanted to make Canada a just society. In a just society, there are two components: equality and fairness. Because Trudeau is a lefty, he emphasizes equality, and thus suggests that the Indian Act be abolished so that everyone is on equal footing. What he failed to understand is that without this Act, more problems and conflicts would occur within Canada (explained why in the First Nations post).

However, Quebec still wanted to become independent and away from “Canada.”Canada didn’t want that, and in 1987, the Meech Lake Accord took place. In this accord, there was Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and ten provincial premiers, including Quebec’s premier, Robert Bourassa. During this conference, Quebec’s premier was required to sign, saying it will not separate from Canada and follow the Constitution of 1982, and in return receive many benefits, which include:

  • A distinct society
  • Increase in provincial government’s power
  • Be able to select their own senators

The Province of Manitoba refused to sign during the Meech Lake Accord

Everyone signed, except for the Province of Manitoba. Now, you may ask why? When you make the British happy, and the French happy, there’s always the third group who becomes aggravated: the First Nations. The First Nations argued that these large decisions are not made without their consultation and won’t sign without being properly informed of what was going on. A man named Elijah Harper (a First Nations cree politician from Manitoba) delivered an elaborate speech during this conference. It was such a long speech that deadline for the accord was met. Thus, the Meech Lake Accord ended without any result.

Because of the failure of Meech Lake Accord, the government held another accord, known as the Charlottetown Accord. The purpose of this accord was to make Quebec follow the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Quebec disapproved of the Charter of Rights and refused to sign. Plus, when the votes were counted, it came to 49 YES and 51 NO. The numbers were unbelievably close, yet Quebec did not have to endorse the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.