In the Fall of 1992, public events in Canada reached a climax that had far-reaching effects for the future of the country. For the first time in their history, Canadians were asked to give their approval to a sweeping set of constitutional proposals in a national referendum. The first serious and informed analysis of these proposals took place at a conference at York University that September. Sponsored by the Centre for Public Law and Public Policy, and the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies at York University, the conference drew major speakers including Peter Lougheed, former premier of Alberta; Peter Hogg of Osgoode Hall Law School; Judy Rebick, president of the National Action Committee on the Status of women; Senator Gerald-A. Beaudoin; Professor Ronald Watts of Queen's University; Michael Adams of Environics Research Group; Jeffrey Simpson of the Globe and Mail; Reg Whitaker of York University; Maude Barlow, National Chairperson, Council of Canadians; David Elton, president of Canada's West Foundation; and Raymond Giroux of Le Soleil, among others.
The papers of the conference, most of which were later revised in light of the 26 October referendum results, present a record of Canadian thought during a period of profound national change. They are grouped here under such topics as 'The Reform of Central Institutions, ' 'The Division of Powers, ' 'Distinct Society, Aboriginal Rights, and Fundamental Canadian Values, ' 'The Referendum, ' and 'The Future of Canada.'
In this book, leading scholars, government decision-makers, interest groups, and journalists come together to debate the country's future. Their papers provide an independent and informed analysis of the choices confronting Canadians at a decisive moment in their collective history.