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The White Paper, 1969

The 1969 White Paper (formally known as the “Statement of the Government of Canada on Indian Policy, 1969”) was a Canadian government policy paper that attempted to abolish previous legal documents pertaining to Indigenous peoples in Canada, including the Indian Act and treaties, and assimilate all “Indian” peoples under the Canadian state.

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1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)

For many Canadians, the eight-game series between Team Canada and the national team of the Soviet Union in 1972 provided the greatest moment in the country’s sporting history. Most expected that Canada would handily defeat the Soviet Union, but this confidence quickly disappeared when Canada lost the first game. The series was tied heading into the final game in Moscow, which ended in a dramatic fashion, with Paul Henderson scoring in the final seconds to give Canada the victory. The series would have a lasting impact on hockey in Canada and abroad.

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Elections of 1979 and 1980

Calling elections is like Goldilocks visiting the three bears — which political stew will turn out to be too soon, too late, or just right? The elections of 1979 and 1980 illustrate the perils of too late, followed by too soon.

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Québec Referendum (1980)

The Québec referendum of 1980, on the Parti Québécois government’s plans for sovereignty-association, was held in fulfilment of a promise that the party had made to do so, during the 1976 election campaign that brought it to power. In this referendum, the government asked the people of Québec to give it a mandate to “negotiate a new constitutional agreement with the rest of Canada, based on the equality of nations.” When the votes were counted, nearly 60% of Quebecers had voted against this plan, and it was thereby rejected. If the “Yes” side had won, the results of the negotiations would have been submitted to a second referendum. The 1980 referendum was followed by constitutional negotiations that have left an indelible mark on the Canadian political scene.

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Toronto Bathhouse Raids (1981)

On 5 February 1981, patrons of four bathhouses in downtown Toronto (The Barracks, The Club, Richmond Street Health Emporium, and Roman II Health and Recreation Spa) were surprised by 200 police officers in a series of coordinated raids, called “Operation Soap.” Law enforcement officials claimed the raids resulted from six months of undercover work into alleged sex work and other “indecent acts” at each establishment. Bathhouse patrons were subjected to excessive behaviour by police, including verbal taunts about their sexuality. When the night was over, 286 men were charged for being found in a common bawdy house (a brothel), while 20 were charged for operating a bawdy house. It was, up to that time, the largest single arrest in Toronto’s history. Most of those arrested were found innocent of the charges. The raids marked a turning point for Toronto’s gay community, as the protests that followed indicated they would no longer endure derogatory treatment from the police, media and the public.

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Constitution Act, 1982

The Constitution Act, 1982 enshrined the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the Constitution, and completed the unfinished business of Canadian independence — allowing Canadians to amend their own Constitution without requiring approval from Britain.

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Official Languages Act (1988)

The Official Languages Act (1988) consolidates all of the changes made to the Official Languages Act of 1969, providing more detail and making them clearer within a new legislative framework. This version highlights the responsibilities of federal institutions with respect to the official languages.

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Assisted Suicide in Canada: The Rodriguez Case (1993)

In the early 1990s, Sue Rodriguez submitted to the courts that section 241(b) of the Criminal Code, which prohibited assisted suicide, was constitutionally invalid (see also Suicide in Canada). Rodriguez suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and wanted the legal right to have a physician’s help in ending her own life.

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