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Ottawa Treaty

The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction — better known as the Ottawa Treaty or the Mine Ban Treaty — resulted from Canada’s leadership and its cooperation with the International Campaign To Ban Landmines (ICBL). In 1992, six non-governmental organizations launched an awareness campaign with the goal of banning landmines worldwide. In October 1996, at the first Ottawa Conference, Canadian minister of Foreign Affairs Lloyd Axworthy launched the Ottawa Process, which led to the ratification of the Mine Ban Treaty, signed by 122 countries at the Second Ottawa Conference in December 1997. The Ottawa Process was an innovative, unprecedented initiative that required a strategic partnership among countries, non-governmental organizations, international groups and the United Nations.

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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.

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Treaty 11

Treaty 11 is the last of the Numbered Treaties signed on 22 August 1921 between First Nations and the Canadian government following Confederation, as Canada expanded its borders north and west. It covers more than 950,000 km2 of present-day YukonNorthwest Territories and Nunavut. The First Nations involved were predominately Dene, and include the Gwich’inTlicho (Dogrib) and Sahtu. As with other Numbered Treaties, the government did not want to enter into treaty until its interests would be served by doing so; accordingly, Treaty 11 was only created in 1921, after oil and gas prospects in the Mackenzie region sparked its interests. However, hasty negotiations combined with weak implementation of the terms — particularly with regard to reserves and land claims — have led to considerable disagreement between the parties on what was meant by the treaty and which promises have not been fulfilled. As a result, many of the signatories to Treaty 11 have also been involved in the modern treaties process ( see Indigenous Peoples: Treaties).


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Patriation of the Constitution

In 1982, Canada fully broke from its colonial past and “patriated” its Constitution. It transferred the country’s highest law, the British North America Act (which was renamed the Constitution Act, 1867), from the authority of the British Parliament to Canada’s federal and provincial legislatures. The Constitution was also updated with a new amending formula and a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. These changes occurred after a fierce, 18-month political and legal struggle that dominated headlines and the agendas of every government in the country.

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Peace and Friendship Treaties

Between 1725 and 1779, Britain signed a series of treaties with various Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet), Abenaki, Penobscot and Passamaquoddy peoples living in parts of what are now the Maritimes and Gaspé region in Canada and the northeastern United States. Commonly known as the Peace and Friendship Treaties, these agreements were chiefly designed to prevent war between enemies and to facilitate trade. While these treaties contained no monetary or land transfer provisions, they guaranteed hunting, fishing and land-use rights for the descendants of the Indigenous signatories. The Peace and Friendship Treaties remain in effect today.

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Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada

The Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada, also known as the Bird Commission in honour of its chair, Florence Bird, was established on 3 February 1967. More than 900 people appeared at its public hearings over a period of six months. In addition to providing an overview of the status of women, the report tabled on 7 December 1970 included 167 recommendations for reducing gender inequality across the various spheres of Canadian society.

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Voting Behaviour in Canada

The decision to vote for a particular political party is affected by many factors. These include socio-demographic factors, such as gender, race, ethnicity, religion and region of residence. Such factors can influence voters’ values and political attitudes. Together, all of these elements combine to shape an individual’s choice of political party during an election. Electoral dynamics vary considerably between individuals and groups; there is no one rule fits all.

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October Crisis (Plain-Language Summary)

The October Crisis happened in the fall of 1970. It was sparked by the Front de liberation du Québec (FLQ). The FLQ used terrorist tactics to try and make Quebec independent from Canada. On 5 October, the FLQ kidnapped James Cross, a British trade commissioner. The FLQ also kidnapped Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act. The Act had never been used before during peacetime. It suspended civil liberties and led to hundreds of arrests. Laporte was murdered and found on 17 October. Cross was freed on 3 December. The crisis ended on 28 December, when Laporte’s killers were captured.

(This article is a plain-language summary of the October Crisis. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see the full-length entry.)

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Arms Control and Disarmament

Since the 19th century, world powers have discussed arms control and disarmament — that is, reducing, limiting or abolishing certain weapons. They believe that to avoid war, weapons should be reduced in number or eliminated. Countries have sought to ban particularly destructive and inhumane weapons. These include weapons of mass destruction, like chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. (See Canada and Gas Warfare; Canada and Nuclear Weapons.) Conventional arms, like anti-personnel land mines or cluster munitions, have also been controlled. Canada notably led talks on banning the use of land mines. (See Ottawa Treaty.) Canada is a signatory of multiple other arms control treaties, like the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, and the Chemical Weapons Convention.

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Treaty 3

On 3 October 1873, some Saulteaux peoples (an Ojibwe people) and the Government of Canada signed Treaty 3, also known as the North-West Angle Treaty. This agreement provided the federal government access to Saulteaux lands in present-day northwestern Ontario and eastern  Manitoba in exchange for various goods and Indigenous rights to hunting, fishing and natural resources on reserve lands. The terms and text of Treaty 3 set precedents for the eight Numbered Treaties that followed. (See also Treaties with Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)

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Treaty 5

Treaty 5 — also known as the Winnipeg Treaty — was signed in 1875–76 by the federal government, Ojibwa peoples and the Swampy Cree of Lake Winnipeg. Treaty 5 covers much of present-day central and northern Manitoba, as well as portions of Saskatchewan and Ontario. The terms of Treaty 5 have had ongoing legal and socioeconomic impacts on Indigenous communities.

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Treaty 10

Treaty 10 is the 10th of the 11 Numbered Treaties. It was signed in 1906–07 by the Canadian government and Indigenous peoples in northern Saskatchewan and Alberta. Treaty 10 covers nearly 220,000 km2 of Saskatchewan and Alberta. The terms of Treaty 10 have had ongoing legal and socioeconomic impacts on Indigenous communities.

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Treaty 4

Treaty 4 — also known as the Qu'Appelle Treaty — was signed on 15 September 1874 at Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan. The Indigenous signatories include the Cree, Saulteaux bands of the Ojibwa peoples and the Assiniboine. In exchange for payments, provisions and rights to reserve lands, Treaty 4 ceded Indigenous territory to the federal government. The majority of Treaty 4 lands are in present-day southern Saskatchewan. Small portions are in western Manitoba and southern Alberta.

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Treaty 7

Treaty 7 is the last of the Numbered Treaties made between the Government of Canada and the Plains First Nations (see Indigenous Peoples: Plains). It was signed on 22 September 1877 by five First Nations: the Siksika (Blackfoot), Kainai (Blood), Piikani (Peigan), Stoney-Nakoda, and Tsuut’ina (Sarcee). Different understandings of the treaty’s purpose, combined with significant culture and language barriers and what some have argued were deliberate attempts to mislead the First Nations on the part of the government negotiators, have led to ongoing conflicts and claims.

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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 relating to Indigenous peoples in Canada, including the Indian Act and  treaties. It also aimed to assimilate all “Indian” peoples under the Canadian state. The 1969 White Paper was proposed by Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development  Jean Chrétien and Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau to widespread criticism. The policy proposed to eliminate Indian Status, incorporate First Nations under provincial government responsibilities, and impose land decisions, notions of private property and economic agendas on Indigenous communities. The backlash to the 1969 White Paper was monumental, leading not only to its withdrawal in 1970, but to a wave of activism, academic work and court decisions over the next five decades. (See also Indigenous Political Organization and Activism in Canada and Indigenous Peoples in Canadian Law.)

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Politics in Quebec

In 1867, Quebecers, who were at the time residents of the British colony of united Canada (territories covered by present-day Quebec and Ontario), helped create the Canadian Federation. In fact, there were four French Canadians (see Francophone) among the 36 Fathers of the Confederation. Since 1 October 2018, the first fixed election date in Quebec history, the province is led by a majority government. The premier is François Legault and the lieutenant-governor is honourable J. Michel Doyon (see also: New France; Seven Years’ War; Battle of the Plains of Abraham; Treaty of Paris 1763).

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Quebec Language Policy

Quebec is the only province in Canada where francophones make up the majority population. For almost two centuries, many have maintained that preserving the French language was the only possible safeguard for the survival of the Quebec nation (see Francophone Nationalism in Quebec). However, it wasn’t until the Quiet Revolution in the 1960s that governments in Quebec began to actively legislate on the issue. Since 1974, French has been the only official language in the province, although some government services remain accessible in English. Quebec has the distinction of being bilingual on constitutional and federal levels, while officially allowing only French in its provincial institutions.

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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.)

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Persons Case (Plain-Language Summary)

The Persons Case was a constitutional ruling. It established the right of women to serve in the Senate. The case was started by the Famous Five. They were a group of women activists. In 1928, they objected to a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that women were not “persons.” As such, they were not allowed to serve in the Senate. The Famous Five challenged the law. In 1929, the decision was reversed. As a result, women were legally recognized as “persons.” They could no longer be denied rights based on a narrow reading of the law.

(This article is a plain-language summary of the Persons Case. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see the full-length entry.)

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Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ)

Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) is a Québec political party founded in 2011 by Charles Sirois and François Legault, former Parti Québécois (PQ) member of the National Assembly (MNA) and cabinet minister. A centre-right political party, the CAQ merged with the Action démocratique du Québec (ADQ) in 2012. The 1 October election results allowed the Coalition Avenir Québec to form a majority government.