November 3rd to 5th, 2011 marked 30 years since the First Ministers met in Ottawa in 1981 and reached a final agreement that led to the patriation of Canada’s Constitution from Britain, added a Charter of Rights and Freedoms to the Constitution, and formulated amending formulas that would allow the Constitution to be amended in Canada. The meeting was a tension-filled, fractious one, and Quebec’s decision not to sign the agreement was one result.
The Patriation Negotiations Conference (November 3-5, 2011) provided a unique opportunity, 30 years later, to interact with some of the key decision-makers and negotiators at that meeting whose hard work, dedication, and political skills ultimately led to the final agreement. The Conference unfolded over two days in Edmonton and engaged participants in the contemplation of Canada’s constitutional formation and its consequences. Because much of the 1981 meeting happened behind closed doors and off the public record, the conference offered both learning about Canada’s constitutional history and witnessing its on-going development.
The conference was recorded, and YouTube videos of each session can be accessed here.
Interviews with key decision-makers and negotiators, as well as other conference presenters can be accessed here.
CBC IDEAS prepared an episode “Pondering the Patriation” on the Conference, which includes excerpts from participant interviews. Find the IDEAS episode here.