Prime Minister Pierre TRUDEAU, in an official statement near the end of the referendum campaign, persuaded a number of the Québécois that a rejection of the Péquiste option would lead to negotiations for a new Canadian FEDERALISM. The intense negotiations between the federal government and the provinces began after the referendum but broke down when all 10 provinces rejected the proposals made by the federal team, although later many of the provinces (not Québec) agreed to them. Despite its defeat in the referendum, the Péquiste government won re-election in 1981 with a marked increase (9%) in the popular vote.
The situation evolved following the election of the federal Conservatives in 1984 and the return to power of Québec Liberals in 1985. An agreement was reached in June 1987 by which Québec was recognized to be a "distinct society"; however, approval had to be given by Parliament and the provincial assemblies. The MEECH LAKE ACCORD (see MEECH LAKE ACCORD: DOCUMENT), which contained this and other constitutional changes, was ultimately defeated. As an indirect consequence, a national referendum was held in 1992 on another accord, the CHARLOTTETOWN ACCORD (see CHARLOTTETOWN ACCORD: DOCUMENT); Canadian voters rejected it. And, in 1995, another provincial referendum in Québec on sovereignty (see QUÉBEC REFERENDUM (1995)) led to victory of the federalist camp by a very slim margin of 50.6% of the vote.
Author R. HUDON