Political Events | The Canadian Encyclopedia

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Article

1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)

For many Canadians, particularly baby boomers and Generation X, the eight-game hockey series between Team Canada and the national team of the Soviet Union in September 1972 provided the greatest moment in Canada’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 dramatic fashion, with Paul Henderson scoring in the final seconds to give Canada the victory. The series became as much a Cold War political battle of democracy versus communism and freedom versus oppression as it was about hockey. The series had a lasting impact on hockey in Canada and abroad.

Article

Airbus Affair

The Airbus Affair was a political scandal that began in the late 1980s and concluded around 2010. The scandal concerned the purchase of Airbus passenger aircraft for Air Canada in the 1980s (when it was a crown corporation) by the government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. It was alleged that German Canadian businessman Karlheinz Schreiber had bribed Mulroney to purchase Airbus aircraft. Mulroney countered that he had not acted inappropriately and that the allegations were part of a smear campaign. Mulroney sued the federal government for $50 million. Ultimately, the RCMP ended its investigation without laying charges. The government settled out of court with Mulroney in 1997. However, it was later determined that Mulroney had indeed acted inappropriately and had received at least $225,000 in cash.

Article

Bomarc Missile Crisis

The CIM-10B Bomarc was the world’s first long-range, nuclear capable, ground-to-air anti-aircraft missile. Two squadrons of the missile were purchased and deployed by the Canadian government in 1958. This was part of Canada’s role during the Cold War to defend North America against an attack from the Soviet Union. Prime Minister John Diefenbaker’s refusal to equip the missiles with nuclear warheads led to a souring of Canada’s relationship with the United States, especially once the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the issue to the fore. The issue split Diefenbaker’s Cabinet and contributed to his party losing the 1963 election.

Article

Bourgeois

Bourgeois, according to an 18th-century writer, were not nobles, ecclesiastics or magistrates, but city dwellers who "nevertheless by their properties, by their riches, by the honorable employments which adorn them and by their commerce are above the artisans and what is called the people.

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Canadian Senate Expenses Scandal

The Canadian Senate Expenses Scandal (2012–16) involved investigations into the housing and travel allowances claimed by dozens of Conservative and Liberal senators. Conservative senators Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin were suspended during the investigations. Duffy, Brazeau and Liberal senator Mac Harb were also charged with fraud and breach of trust but were either acquitted or the charges dropped. A 2015 audit of senate expenses revealed that 30 senators had been improperly reimbursed for expenses. The scandal dominated public discourse and put pressure on the Senate to establish clearer rules for travel, residency and living expenses.

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Conscription in Canada (Plain-Language Summary)

Conscription is the drafting of people for mandatory military service. Canadians have been conscripted twice in history. Both times, only males were conscripted. The first time was during the First World War. The second time was during the Second World War. Conscription was an issue that divided Canada. Most English-speaking Canadians supported it. Most French-speaking Canadians opposed it. (This article is a plain-language summary of Conscription in Canada. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see the full-length entry.)

List

Elections to Remember

We love them and we hate them. They bring out the best in us, and the worst. They frequently divide us, and sometimes — as with John Diefenbaker's thunderous victory in 1958 — federal elections succeed in uniting the country behind a single impulse, or a single voice. One thing's for sure: amid all the change that has swept across Canada since Confederation, there has remained one steadfast certainty — that every few years, we ordinary citizens have the right to collectively choose who should govern us. Today, this privilege is not shared by billions of the world's people. How lucky that our democracy endures. When Canadians return to the polls, not only will we be carrying out the business of voting, we'll be writing a new chapter in Canada's rich electoral history. It's an intriguing story, filled with high stakes, hijinks and high passions, not to mention a colourful cast of political characters. Here are some famous elections from the past, and how they changed Canada . . .

Article

Canada and the G7 (Group of Seven)

The G7, or Group of Seven, is an international group comprising the governments of the world’s largest economies: Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. It was founded as the G6 in 1975 and became the G7 with the addition of Canada in 1976. The Group is an informal bloc; it has no treaty or constitution and no permanent offices, staff or secretariat. The leaders of the member states meet at annual summits to discuss issues of mutual concern and to coordinate actions to address them. The meeting location and the organization’s presidency rotates among the members. The European Union is also a non-enumerated member, though it never assumes the rotating presidency.

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Kanesatake Resistance (Oka Crisis) (Plain-Language Summary)

In the summer of 1990, a resistance occurred in Kanesatake, Quebec. Nearby is a town called Oka. This event has many names – the Oka Crisis, the Kanesatake Resistance, and the Mohawk Resistance. The main participants were Kanyen'kehà:ka (Mohawk) protesters, the Quebec police, the RCMP, and the Canadian Army. It started when members of the Kanyen'kehà:ka community started protesting the expansion of a golf course and the building of townhouses. An Indigenous burial ground was on this land. The situation quickly became violent. One police officer was killed. He was a corporal in the Sûreté du Quebec. After this, the Canadian Army went to Kanesatake. The expansion ultimately was stopped. The federal government bought the disputed land. The resistance ended in late September. However, the land was not transferred to the Kanyen'kehà:ka. The resistance had lasting repercussions. This article is a plain-language summary of Kanesatake Resistance (Oka Crisis). If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see our full-length entry, Kanesatake Resistance (Oka Crisis).

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King-Byng Affair (Plain-Language Summary)

The King-Byng Affair was a constitutional crisis that happened in 1926. It pitted the powers of a prime minister against the powers of a governor general. It began when Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King asked Governor General Lord Julian Byng to dissolve Parliament and call a new election. Byng refused. It ended with King winning another election. Since then, no governor general has publicly refused the advice of a prime minister. This article is a plain-language summary of the King-Byng Affair. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see our full-length entry: King-Byng Affair.

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Canada’s Cold War Purge of LGBTQ from Public Service

Between the 1950s and the 1990s, the Canadian government responded to national security concerns generated by Cold War tensions with the Soviet Union by spying on, exposing and removing suspected LGBTQ individuals from the federal public service and the Canadian Armed Forces. They were cast as social and political subversives and seen as targets for blackmail by communist regimes seeking classified information. These characterizations were justified by arguments that people who engaged in same-sex relations suffered from a “character weakness” and had something to hide because their sexuality was considered a taboo and, under certain circumstances, was illegal. As a result, the RCMP investigated large numbers of people. Many of them were fired, demoted or forced to resign — even if they had no access to security information. These measures were kept out of public view to prevent scandal and to keep counter-espionage operations under wraps. In 2017, the federal government issued an official apology for its discriminatory actions and policies, along with a $145-million compensation package.

Article

Meng Wanzhou Affair (Two Michaels Case)

The Meng Wanzhou Affair (a.k.a. the case of the two Michaels) was a legal and diplomatic dispute that strained relations between Canada, China and the United States. It began in December 2018 when the RCMP in Vancouver arrested Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of the Chinese technologies company Huawei. They did so on behalf of an American court that wanted Meng extradited to the United States. Nine days later, the Chinese government arrested and detained two Canadians: Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. The two Michaels were imprisoned for 1,020 days. They were freed on the same day as Meng — 24 September 2021. The episode marked the emergence of China’s “wolf warrior diplomacy” and demonstrated Canada’s limited diplomatic options as a middle power.

Article

Somalia Affair

In 1992–93, Canada contributed military forces to UNITAF, a United Nations–backed humanitarian mission in the African nation of Somalia. In 1993, Canadian soldiers from the now-defunct Airborne Regiment tortured and killed a Somali teenager named Shidane Arone. These and other violent abuses during the mission shocked Canadians and damaged the country’s international reputation. They also led to a public inquiry that revealed serious failures of leadership at the highest levels of the Canadian Armed Forces, kick-starting reforms aimed a professionalizing the officer corps. This article contains sensitive material that may not be suitable for all audiences.

Article

Sponsorship Scandal (Adscam)

After a razor-thin majority voted in the 1995 Quebec Referendum for Quebec to stay in Canada, the Liberal government of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien responded with various initiatives to promote federalism in the province. A sponsorship program began in 1996. Public money was directed from the Department of Public Works and Government Services to private advertising agencies to promote Canada and the federal government at cultural, community and sports events in Quebec. The media began questioning the spending and handling of these contracts. Two auditor general reports and a public inquiry revealed that ad agency executives and Liberal Party officials had corruptly handled more than $300 million; $100 million of which was funnelled from the government to the Liberal Party. Five people were found guilty of fraud. Along with several other issues, the scandal helped lead to the government of Chrétien’s successor, Paul Martin, being reduced to a minority in 2004.