From behind the close doors of Meech Lake comes this insider's account of the negotiations that put Canada's future on the line. Patrick J. Monahan was there throughout the negotiations that began in the fall of 1986 and culminated in the week-long meeting of First Ministers in June 1990, after which the accord failed to be ratified. He tells a compelling story of deals and dealmakers, compromise and confrontation.
Many in English Canada believe that at Meech Lake the federal government sold out to the provinces, especially to Quebec, and that by conducting negotiations behind closed doors the government acted illegitimately. Not so, says Monahan. Far from being a sell-out, Meech represented a reasonable compromise between competing positions. Going back to the initial position put forward by the Bourassa government in 1986 he shows how that position was modified in the course of the negotiations. And closed doors, he argues, were essential in ensuring effective bargaining. There could have been no agreement without them.
Now, in the middle of 1991, Canada is once again negotiating its future existence. There are vital lessons to be learned from the Meech Lake round; Monahan articulates some of those lessons, and indicates how they ought to figure in the current process. Canadians, he argues, ignore them at their country's peril.