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Historical Overview of Language Rights in New Brunswick (Part 4)

Before delving into the constitutional debates of the late 1980s and early 1990s that led to the entrenchment of New Brunswick’s linguistic equality law in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, I want to provide you with a few details and anecdotes whose relevance I leave it up to you to judge. I am not saying this had any impact on language rights, but 1983 is the year when I began my career as a professor at the Law School of the Université de Moncton. As a young graduate of the Faculty of Law of the University of Ottawa, I had begun a private legal practice in Bathurst, but quickly realized this was not for me. The Université de Moncton Law School Dean, Michel Bastarache, gave me the opportunity to start an academic career. A career that would last 34 years, that I loved, except for the last five years, but that's another story.

Then there was my election in June 1987 as President of the SANB. I had never thought of running to be president of this organization or any other organization for that matter, but because of the constitutional debate that was in full swing in Canada, I knew that Acadie in New Brunswick could not miss this opportunity to be recognized in the Canadian Constitution. The two and a half years I spent as the SANB President were focused on this goal.

However, the SANB was, at that time, weak financially. It was running a large deficit. The funder, Heritage Canada, was demanding that the organization's affairs be put in order quickly. The first decision I had to make, and it was a difficult one, was to lay off all the organization's employees, except for its Executive Director, Norbert Roy, and the administrative secretary and organizational memory, Pauline Lejeune.

For a year we worked to get the organization back on track. I wrote media releases myself. The president then did not receive any honorarium or salary. Despite the financial obstacles, with the skeletal staff and a supportive board of directors - Réal Gervais, Anne-Marie Laforest, Maurice Saulnier, Linda Haché - we did a colossal job. After a year, the finances had recovered enough to hire staff to help Norbert and Pauline. Thanks to all these people, when I left, the SANB had a budget surplus and was able to pay the new president the “astronomical” sum of $200 per month!

Back to language rights. As we saw in the previous text, the 1980s were years of task force reports. The Bastarache-Poirier report and then the Guérette-Smith report. There was another report during this period, less known to the public, the Barry-Bastarache report.

In the early 1980s, as it was increasingly expected that the administration of justice should allow for the use of French as well as English, the Law Society of New Brunswick created a committee to look at the issues that may arise. The committee was to propose what needed to change in the legal and judicial fields in order to better integrate the two official languages in the practice of law, which up to then had been a unilingual English stronghold, and how the Law Society of New Brunswick could help achieve that objective.

The committee, co-chaired by Saint John lawyer John Barry and Université de Moncton law school dean Michel Bastarache, organized meetings with judges and with lawyers' associations both within and outside the province as well as abroad.

Its report, published in September 1981, recommended that the Bar and provincial authorities redefine institutional bilingualism in the judicial system to promote the equality of both languages. It concluded that the judicial system operated almost exclusively in English and provided only minimal accessibility to services in French. To change this distressing situation, the committee recommended that both languages have an equal status. It recommended the implementation of a system that it described as "dualist". The judicial administration would offer services to clients in their own language without the intermediary of translators or interpreters. The tools essential to the practice of law in French should also be provided and the administrative structure had to be adapted to linguistic priorities.

The Committee recommended, among other things, that all standard forms – for example, mortgages, insurance contracts - be printed in both official languages and that all lawyers and court employees have an adequate knowledge of the language of the procedural documents. It even recommended that, as of 1988, all articling students take a language proficiency test in both official languages before being called to the Bar. This recommendation had merits in a province where both official languages are on an equal footing in justice, but it was quickly rejected by the Bar. The Committee also recommended that the Law Society become bilingual and that its admission course be offered in both official languages, which was done.

I was among the first groups to receive their bar admission course in French. I remember that one course was offered in English only and the exam was to be in English. With the support of one other student I decided to boycott the exam, at considerable risk to ourselves. We threatened to go public and "miraculously" the exam was cancelled and just as "miraculously" those students who had not supported us suddenly converted.

Some changes have been made to the functioning of the judicial system since the Barry-Bastarache Report and we do have better integration of official languages in the administration of justice. However, there are still systemic problems that mean that the integration of French into the practice of law is not yet complete. Despite the presence of the Faculté de droit at the Université de Moncton and a greater number of francophone and bilingual lawyers and judges, the law, except in the Bathurst and Edmundston judicial districts, is expressed almost exclusively in English. Many lawyers still practise law as if there were only one official language, English. The French versions of statutes and judicial decisions are often ignored, and the fact that both versions have equal value often seems to be of no relevance.

The 1980s also brought a little-known amendment to the Insurance Act. This amendment provided that an insurer in New Brunswick could not retain a lawyer to act on behalf of an insured unless the insured had indicated to the insurer the official language they wished to be represented in if the matter proceeded to court. Insurers must then retain a lawyer who uses the official language chosen by the insured.

Where does this amendment come from? Before 1986, many francophones were frustrated by the fact that insurers retained the services of unilingual anglophone lawyers to act for their francophone clients. Pleas were in submitted English and trials were held in English even for francophone clients.

The lack of responsiveness on the part of insurers in New Brunswick to the needs of francophone insureds led to some unusual situations that is exemplified by the case of Cormier v. Fournier (1986), 69 N.B.R.(2d) 155. In that case, the parties had agreed that the trial would be conducted in French since the parties and witnesses were all francophone. At the beginning of the trial, the lawyer for one of the insured, a unilingual anglophone, requested that the court provide him with the services of an interpreter in order to have translation into English of everything that would be said in court.

The judge refused to grant this request but granted an adjournment to allow his decision to be appealed. An appeal was made regarding the refusal to provide an interpreter for the lawyer, but the Court of Appeal never had to rule on the matter because the government, following pressure from the Bar, adopted Regulation 86-2, established under the Official Languages Act.

The regulation states, among other things, that a person may require the services of an interpreter in a proceeding in order to be able to use the official language of their choice or to present evidence in that official language or to enable their counsel to defend their interests effectively. I recall that the speed with which the government reacted to this situation by adopting these regulations surprised many people.

Given the adoption of this regulation, the judge had no choice but to grant the motion for an interpreter. The Department of Justice had informed the clerk of the court that the translation would be consecutive and not simultaneous. However, the judge did not see things in the same light and insisted that it be done by simultaneous translation for the following reasons:

"I [the judge] then indicated that the court should hear witnesses in the language in which each gives their testimony and that this was the most basic application of the best evidence rule. Translation, no matter how good the interpreters are, does not give an accurate picture of the original. The interpreter must make choices and must exercise personal judgment.

The law of evidence does not allow the court to accept a photocopy of a document unless it can be established that the original is not available. However, a photocopy is much more accurate than an interpretation. Where the court is competent to understand the testimony in the language of the witness, the court should not allow an interpreter to offer an interpretation of that testimony. The best evidence is necessarily what the witness himself says".

The judge therefore ordered that the translation be simultaneous, despite the objections of the Department of Justice, which would have preferred that it be done by consecutive translation, a less expensive means. As a result, the Province had to cover the relatively high cost of simultaneous translation for the sole purpose of accommodating a unilingual anglophone lawyer who had been retained by an insurer to act on behalf of its French-speaking insured.

It was in the wake of this case that section 20.2 of the Insurance Act was adopted in November 1986, which forces insurers to respect the official language preferred by their clients.

I remember some people telling me at the time that this change to the Act would make insurance companies reluctant to insure Francophones. Obviously, this never happened. Actually, this amendment benefitted law graduates of l’Université de Moncton, because following this amendment, many of them, being bilingual, would be hired by firms representing insurance companies! This illustrates that sometimes language rights come about in unanticipated ways, and a reminder that official languages also have their place in the private sector.

The 1980s were also marked by a big disappointment on the legal front. I clearly remember the early afternoon of May 1, 1986. This date is probably not a memorable for many, unless it is your date of birth, but in this case three decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada made it memorable. Myself and many of my colleagues at the law school had a very keen interest in language rights, and on that specific afternoon we gathered around the "fax machine" - the Internet did not exist - waiting with some excitement and impatience for three decisions that the Supreme Court of Canada pertaining to language rights. What is commonly referred to as the 1986 trilogy, the MacDonald (Québec), Bilodeau (Manitoba) and SANB (New Brunswick) decisions, were about to be made public. In the case of SANB, this was the first decision that would interpret one of the provisions of the Charter dealing with language rights, namely subsection 19(2), dealing with the right to a trial in the official language of one's choice.

Everything suggested that the language rights in the Charter would be given a broad and generous interpretation, as had been the case for the other rights enshrined in it. What a surprise and disappointment when the fax of these decisions came in. In the three decisions, the Supreme Court of Canada stated that the courts must show great deference in interpreting language rights, since these rights, unlike other fundamental rights, stem from a political compromise.

In the SANB decision, the Supreme Court gave a very restrictive interpretation to language rights. Among other things, it ruled that language rights are the same as those guaranteed under section 17 of the Charter with respect to debates in Parliament. The rights belong to the speaker, drafter or author of any procedural act of a court, and they confer on them the power, enshrined in the Constitution, to speak or write in the official language of their choice. Judges, Crown attorneys and court officials have as much right as the litigant to use the official language of their choice. The State therefore has language rights that it can oppose to the citizen!

Thus, section 19 of the Charter would not guarantee that the person speaking will be heard or understood in the language of their choice by the judge, nor give them the constitutional right to do so. In the 1986 trilogy, the Supreme Court of Canada clearly emphasized that language rights are not true fundamental rights; rather, they are the result of a political compromise that cannot be extended through judicial interpretation.

The understanding of language rights that drives the 1986 trilogy is based solely on the right of each person, including representatives of the State, to use the official language of their choice, and not on the collective aspect of these rights. For the Supreme Court of Canada, language rights were essentially political rights, since they stem from a political compromise; they represent nothing more than a response to a request for accommodation.

However, language is not solely a means of expression or communication. It is also a collective phenomenon. It is part of a person’s identity within a group or community. The recognition of language rights goes far beyond the simple recognition of an individual's right to communicate with government authorities in the official language of their choice. The judicial deference proposed by the Supreme Court in the 1986 trilogy did not recognize this particular role of language and culture for a minority community.

In these three decisions, the Supreme Court said that, when acting in their official capacity, the State and its representatives enjoy a linguistic freedom separate from that of citizens. But wasn't the Charter designed to recognize the rights and freedoms of citizens in their dealings with the state? Consequently, in providing services to the community, aren’t the government and its representatives required to fulfill certain obligations and responsibilities, including the obligation to give the public a choice as to the language to be used? I find it shocking, to say the least, that government officials should be able to oppose the very rights of citizens that were designed for the citiezens!

This trilogy of decisions had a chilling effect on those who, like me, saw in the rights recognized by the Charter the opportunity to ensure the vitality and development of linguistic communities. It was not until Michel Bastarache’s arrival at the Supreme Court of Canada in the late 1990s and his decision in the Beaulac case that the logic, or dare I say the illogicality, of this trilogy was finally reversed. However, even though it no longer exists, there are still hints of the trilogy's philosophy in government circles, as we saw most recently when Premier Higgs asserted that he had the right to express himself in the official language of his choice.

But let us go back to where we left off in the last text, namely the 1987 election. In that election, Richard Hatfield's Conservatives were defeated by Frank McKenna's Liberals. The Liberals won all 58 ridings. As a result, there would be no opposition in Fredericton during the next government. But who was this new premier, Frank McKenna?

Frank McKenna was born in Apohaqui, a small, very English-speaking village between Sussex and Saint John. After his law studies at UNB, he moved to Chatham on the Miramichi River. Those who followed the court scene at the time also know that he was an excellent lawyer and an effective litigator. In fact, he was the lawyer for the famous Acadian boxer Yvon Durelle who was accused of murder and was acquitted. Frank McKenna became the Member of the Legislative Assembly for the electoral district of Chatham, now Miramichi, in 1982.

My first meeting with McKenna took place in the offices of the Leader of the Official Opposition in Fredericton in the spring of 1984, more than a year before the convention where he was chosen leader of the Liberals. Raymond Frenette was acting as interim leader of the Liberal Party at the time. The Liberals were rebuilding and, having learned the lesson of the 1982 election, wanted to get closer to the Acadian community. I had been invited to meet with part of the caucus to discuss, among other things, the direction the Party should take on the language issue.

During this meeting, Frank McKenna was discreet to say the least, participating little in the discussion. Gérald Clavette, one of the MLAs present at the meeting, later confided to me that McKenna would, in all likelihood, become the next leader of the party. However, the man remained a mystery to me at the time. I wondered what his position would be on language issues.

Frank McKenna had many friends and admirers in the Acadian community. I have no doubt that he was also sympathetic to the Acadian cause, but I would not go so far as to say that he clearly understood the concerns and aspirations of this community.

As a pragmatic man, he had a poor grasp of language files. For him, the solution to language problems inevitably involved economic recovery. He adhered without difficulty to the principles of linguistic rights and guarantees, but he wanted to proceed cautiously, aware of the tensions that existed in the province. As early as his first term in office, he would inherit the constitutional file that would monopolize Canada's attention for some years.

In order to fully understand the constitutional controversy that monopolized the national attention at the end of the 1980s, it would be necessary to review Canadian history since its beginnings and examine the often difficult coexistence of the English and French-speaking communities, as well as the epic battles that repeatedly placed them on opposite sides, but that is not the purpose of this text. On the other hand, to understand the language debate in New Brunswick, it would not be superfluous to briefly review the history of the constitutional agreement of June 3, 1987, better known as the "Meech Lake Accord. »

Québec, having felt excluded from the constitutional process that led to the repatriation of the Canadian Constitution in 1982, and in order to correct what it considered an affront, was looking to have the province recognized as a distinct society. On May 9, 1986, at a symposium at Mont Gabriel on "Renewed Collaboration between Québec and its Partners in Confederation," Québec's Minister of International Relations and Delegate for Intergovernmental Affairs, Gil Rémillard, outlined the five conditions that the Québec government considered necessary before "reintegrating Québec into the Canadian family" could be achieved, namely:

1) the explicit recognition of Québec as a distinct society;

(2) the guarantee of increased power in immigration matters;

(3) limiting federal spending power;

(4) recognition of a veto power for Québec; and

(5) Québec's participation in the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court of Canada.

For Québec, these were the minimum conditions for resuming discussions. In August 1986 in Edmonton, the Premiers agreed that the conditions set out by Québec City were a valid basis on which to begin the next round of constitutional negotiations. The "Québec Round" was officially launched.

By the end of April 1987, in the rural setting of Gatineau Park, on the shores of peaceful Meech Lake, national reconciliation seemed to be on the verge of becoming a reality. Anecdote: when I was making a presentation in Shippagan on this agreement, I remember someone coming to the microphone to say: "Meech Lake looks like a nice place to go camping." Acadians have a good sense of humour even in serious moments.

In any case, to everyone's surprise, on the shores of this lake, an agreement in principle was reached, which would become, after a few modifications, the constitutional agreement of June 3, 1987. Did we finally succeed where several other constitutional conferences had failed? Did Canada and Québec finally find common ground? For a few moments, the miracle seemed to be about to happen.

I do not intend to repeat the history of this turbulent period. I will leave that to others, and I will focus primarily on the debate as it unfolded in New Brunswick.

In June 1987, as I said earlier, I was elected president of the SANB. This was a few days after the Meech Lake Accord. It was at this annual meeting that I presented the constitutional position I intended to defend on behalf of the organization. The position was in support of the enshrinement, in the Canadian Constitution, of the principles contained in the Act Recognizing the Equality of the Two Official Linguistic Communities. I felt that the Meech Lake Accord misrepresented the Acadian community of New Brunswick by dismissing it as a "mere Francophone presence outside of Québec”. This suggested that the Acadian community was a minority community, which, in my opinion, was false since the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick had recognized the legal equality of the province's two linguistic communities in 1981.

I have never had a problem with the clause recognizing Québec as a "distinct society". It simply acknowledges a social and political reality. Québec is different from other provinces. It is the only province that at Confederation in 1867 recognized a budding bilingualism on its territory by agreeing to be bound by section 133 of the Constitution Act, 1867 and thus recognize certain constitutional rights for its English-speaking community. Those who read my first text on the Robichaud years will recall that New Brunswick, shortly after Confederation, rejected two petitions requesting that it do the same. Québec is also different because of its judicial system, since it has the French Civil Code and not the English common law, as in the other provinces. However, Québec is most distinct from the other provinces of Canada because of its culture, language, and history. All this makes it, in my view, a "distinct society”.

As president, I made it clear that the SANB accepted the five conditions set by Québec. What the organization refused, however, was to declare, as some federal politicians demanded, that this agreement adequately met our aspirations. What we wanted was for the rights of the Acadian community to be enhanced during the constitutional round.

My support for the five conditions put forward by Québec earned me harsh criticism from certain Acadian personalities. I would be accused of being a traitor and of having stabbed the Acadian community in the back. These attacks were even more virulent after Premier Robert Bourassa's visit to Moncton and the position I took at the time in support of Québec's demands.

One more anecdote. During this period, I met with Premier Bourassa a few times. He always left me with a good impression. He listened and, from the start, did not hesitate to support the constitutional amendment we were asking for. I also remember a meeting in his Montreal office with Réal Gervais and Norbert Roy. At one point we had to tell him that, even though our discussion was interesting, we had to leave for our flight to Moncton. He picked up his phone and as he hung up, told us to forget about our flight, that the Québec government plane would take us home. After the meeting, we drove to the St. Hubert airport in a Sûreté du Québec patrol car with the lights flashing!

Let us get back to the SANB. The Acadian organization was asking that the two official language communities in New Brunswick be recognized in the Constitution. We said the provincial government should make a constitutional commitment to protect and promote this fundamental characteristic of New Brunswick. This would not require that the constitutional accord be reopened. Section 43 of the Constitution Act, 1982 provides that a constitutional amendment affecting only one province requires only the consent of the Parliament of Canada and the Legislative Assembly of that province. That would allow us to achieve the objective without jeopardizing the fragile consensus surrounding the Meech Lake Accord.

Why did we want constitutional entrenchment of this legislation? The New Brunswick law adopted in 1981, an Act Recognizing the Equality of the Two Linguistic Communities, proposed a framework for the exercise of legislative and executive powers in the province. Were this constitutionally entrenched, it would be, in a sense, a blueprint to guide the exercise of governmental power in the province.

Moreover, by being enshrined in the constitution, the rights guaranteed by this law would become permanent and inalienable. The amending formula of the Constitution Act, 1982 would have to be used to amend or abolish them. Therefore, an ill-intentioned provincial government could not unilaterally abrogate these rights. To do so, it would have to obtain the consent of the federal government. The possibility of repeal is therefore not impossible, but it is infinitely more difficult.

The debate surrounding the enactment of the Act Recognizing the Equality of the Two Linguistic Communities is symbolically important. I was convinced that the Acadian community had to seize the opportunity that presented itself, because the possibility of amending the Canadian constitution does not come along every day.

It is interesting to study the path taken by the provincial Liberal government on the issue of entrenching this Act. When the conditional agreement was tabled in the legislature, McKenna, then Leader of the Opposition, stated:

"the principle of equality of the two official languages and the two linguistic communities is a fundamental characteristic of New Brunswick. The fundamental characteristic of Québec is recognized in the agreement. New Brunswick's should be as well. In terms of the rights of francophone New Brunswickers, New Brunswick's freedom of action, as a province, is greater in terms of constitutional change. It would not require unanimity to make an amendment that would affect only New Brunswick. I am committed to promoting an amendment on behalf of New Brunswick that preserves and promotes the fundamental characteristic of the province.”

The position of the leader of the Liberal Party is, at this point, clear. It is similar to the position that the SANB was advocating.

However, after the provincial election, the new Liberal government was sending mixed and confusing signals as to the province's objective. In an interview with the English-language Telegraph Journal, an influential government minister stated that the province has the power to enshrine language rights in the Canadian Constitution but has no desire to do so.

Later in the spring of 1988, the government adopted a new approach. While saying that it was in favour of it, it stated that there was no hurry to enshrine the Act recognizing the equality of the two linguistic communities in the Constitution because it would not change anything in the province's legal context. According to Premier McKenna, Acadians already have rights and it would not change anything legally to entrench them in the Constitution.

I do not think Premier McKenna was against entrenching the law in the Constitution, but for the political leadership in Fredericton, what was important at that time was to obtain further amendments to the Constitutional Accord. They argued that the debate over the 1987 Constitutional Accord should be separated from the demands for entrenchment. For the SANB, however, since the agreement seeks to define Canada, it was important that the Act be enshrined at the same time, since it defines the place that the Acadian community occupies in New Brunswick and therefore in Canada. It constitutes, in a way, the province's social contract.

Throughout the debate surrounding the constitutional agreement, the instigator and standard-bearer of the movement to enshrine the Act recognizing the equality of the two linguistic communities was undoubtedly the SANB. Leaving no respite for the government, it pointed out all the ambiguities and denounced all the hesitations. It mobilized the community. It was everywhere it needed to be to ensure that the Acadian community was not forgotten in the constitutional debate.

Why was the SANB so stubborn? Couldn’t it be satisfied with the verbal assurances it was given? Contrary to what some believe, its stubbornness was not due to a lack of confidence in the McKenna government. But the Acadian community had been deceived so many times, its hopes betrayed so many times, that it could not allow itself to be anesthetized by fine words and promises. It is the role of the SANB to keep up the pressure, to remind the authorities of the promises that have been made, so that Acadians ultimately obtain what is rightfully theirs.

A major event that underscored the Acadian community's commitment to enshrining the principles of the Act Recognizing the Equality of the Two Linguistic Communities took place on August 15, 1988, in Caraquet. This event remains little known to the public, unfortunately. However, to my knowledge, this event marks a historic moment: the unanimity of the Acadian community around a project. As president of the SANB, I had asked Norbert Roy, SANB's executive director, and Luc Desjardins, Raymond Lanteigne and Diane Haché, employees of the organization, to organize an event in Caraquet, as part of National Acadian Day, that would mark the support of the entire Acadian community for the principle of entrenching the Act.

The signing of the Protocol of support for the entrenchment of Bill 88 that took place that day is a fine example of this community solidarity. More than 25 Acadian institutions and organizations representing the entire Acadian community, from the Association des enseignantes et enseignants to the Fédération des caisses populaires and l'Assomption, young people, seniors, women and even the three Acadian bishops gathered in the gymnasium of La Nacelle school to publicly express their support for this constitutional modification. A magical and wonderful moment! New Brunswick's Acadie, with one voice, demanded the right to equality. It was claiming its year zero, its anchor point! It demanded to be recognized as a partner in the country we wished to build. This so-called divided and fragmented community was demonstrating its solidarity.

Some Anglophone and bilingual groups also supported the entrenchment of the Act Recognizing the Equality of the Two Linguistic Communities in the Constitution, including the New Brunswick Federation of Labour, but the most surprising support came from the Jemseg Women's Institute!

Another important element of support, which had an impact at the political level, came from Telegraph Journal columnist Don Hoyt. Mr. Hoyt was a very influential columnist at the time. His columns were read by every politician in Fredericton. Mr. Hoyt asked to meet me to discuss our request for the entrenchment of the Act. Several people advised me not to meet with him because, in their opinion, Mr. Hoyt would "destroy” me. I ignored this and accepted his invitation. The meeting that took place in the basement of the Legislative Assembly was to last 30 minutes but ended three hours later and was the beginning of a friendship and mutual respect that would last until his passing.

On March 25 and 27, 1989, Hoyt wrote two columns (I believe he also wrote one on March 26, but I did not have time to find it) in the Telegraph Journal, the first entitled "A Moderate Acadian's Viewpoint on Equality in New Brunswick" and the second entitled "Acadian Formula: Respect, Tolerance, Understanding". In addition to supporting the entrenchment of the law, for the first time in the existence of that newspaper to my knowledge, he praised a president of the SANB. Another small anecdote: when I announced that I was stepping down as president of the SANB, I also received a laudatory editorial in this newspaper. I don't remember that happening often.

I left the presidency of the SANB, in 1989, and was replaced by Réal Gervais who would continue to lead the battle for the inscription of Bill 88.

Thanks to the determination of the Acadian community, on March 21, 1990, the McKenna government tabled two resolutions in the Legislative Assembly to amend the Canadian Constitution, one of which dealt with the entrenchment of the Act Recognizing the Equality of the Two Official Language Communities.

New negotiations then began between the provinces and the Canadian government to find a solution to the impasse presented by the Meech Lake Accord. On June 9, 1990, the Canadian premiers announced that they had reached a compromise and a new agreement was born, "the 1990 Constitutional Accord. »

It should be noted that the proposal regarding the equality of New Brunswick's linguistic communities strongly shook the consensus at the constitutional conference that led to this agreement. On the final day, Québec objected to the wording of New Brunswick's proposed amendment to the Act Recognizing the Equality of the Two Official Language Communities as being too similar to the distinct society clause. New Brunswick, which had given up almost all its other requests throughout the week, could not accept this last concession and threatened to leave the meeting if it were imposed. After a few hours of debate and negotiations, they came to a compromise: the recognition of the equality of the two linguistic communities and the obligation to promote that equality would be placed in a new section, section 133.1 of the Conditional Act of 1867. A sort of return to the past. A Constitutional "Back to the Future"!

In any event, that new provision never saw the light of day, because on June 23, 1990, we learned that the constitutional agreement had died. Now it was time for new negotiations and a new constitutional agreement. The 1990 Constitutional Accord is dead; long live the Charlottetown Accord!

However, you will have to read the following text to find out what happens next. You will then see that the only thing to have survived all these constitutional debates would be the entrenchment of the principles of the Act Recognizing the Equality of the Two Linguistic Communities. I will also discuss in this next text an important event of the McKenna era, the abolition of school boards, and the arrival of the CoR on the political scene in New Brunswick.

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