Canada's Time of Change

March 8, 1985

Report Outline
Post Election Protents
Political Realignment
Setting the Agenda
Special Focus

Post Election Protents

This is a time of change in Canada. The country has come out of its worst recession since the 1930s seeking ways to sustain the affluence it has known since World War II. The economy, more than the new constitution, dominates the national agenda. Regionalism and Quebec separatism, though still a strain on the fabric of Confederation, have receded in the public mind. According to opinion polls and pundits, Canadians are more confident about the prospects for national unity than at any time in recent memory. Some say the national mood has not been as buoyant and assertive since 1967, the 100th anniversary of independence.

As the national agenda has changed, so have the leaders. An era ended last June with the departure of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the acerbic, charismatic intellectual who with but one brief interruption had been Canada's prime minister since 1968. Soon after he stepped down, turning the Liberal Party and the prime ministership over to John Turner, the momentum for change quickened. In parliamentary elections on Sept. 4, Brian Mulroney led the Progressive Conservative (“Tory”) Party to a sweeping national victory, winning a popular majority and unchallenged control of the House of Commons.

Mulroney, a lawyer from Quebec, leads the most broadly representative government in a quarter-century. While it is uncertain if the election will mark an enduring political realignment, several things have become clear during Mulroney's first six months in office. One is that he has cast aside Trudeau's economic nationalism and put out the welcome mat to foreign investment, to the delight of American business and the White House. President Reagan, who has expressed admiration for Mulroney, will visit him in Quebec City on March 17–18. Mulroney has twice called on Reagan in Washington, first as a leader of the opposition last June and again three weeks after the September election. He returned to the United States in December to tell the Economic Club of New York: “Canada is open for business again.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Oct. 06, 1995  Quebec Sovereignty
Apr. 12, 1991  The Deepening Canadian Crisis Over Quebec
May 11, 1990  Will Canada Fall Apart?
Mar. 08, 1985  Canada's Time of Change
Dec. 24, 1981  Canada's Political Conflicts
Nov. 04, 1977  Quebec Separatism
Nov. 05, 1976  Canadian-American Relations
Oct. 18, 1972  Canadian Nationalism
Dec. 09, 1970  Canada's Troubled Economy
Feb. 04, 1970  Canada's Changing Foreign Policy
Jun. 12, 1968  Canadian Unity
Oct. 07, 1964  Canadian Separatism
Jun. 06, 1962  Canadian Election
May 29, 1957  Relations with Canada
May 06, 1941  Canada's War Effort
Jul. 18, 1930  Canadian General Election, 1930
Aug. 10, 1929  Canada and the American Tariff
Sep. 21, 1926  Canadian Politics and the Imperial Conference
Regional Political Affairs: Canada