It happened today - October 26, 2015
Speaking of winning the battle but losing the war, this is the anniversary of the thunderous defeat of the Charlottetown Accord in a 1992 referendum. I remember how splendid it was at the time. All the organs of the Canadian Establishment endorsed it, political, media and economic. And the people responded with a resounding “No”, 54.3 to 45.7 percent.
It lost in almost every part of the country, except Ontario where it won by 0.2% of the popular vote, the Northwest Territories and Atlantic Canada other than Nova Scotia. It lost among every important demographic including on-reserve aboriginals despite its promise of self-government. It was sent packing.
To this day you can find proponents nostalgic about the Accord, and convinced things would be going much better in Canada if only this typical unprincipled kluge had been accepted by a grateful populace. It is hard to see, not least because it was as usual about conciliating Quebec which rejected it 57.6 to 43.3.
Now some people argued in the aftermath, and still do, that the result proves Canadians just cannot agree on the Constitution. I think this is a misread.
I think we have deep differences. But I think we would agree on constitutional reforms that flowed from the people and respected their rights. What we will not do is trust our self-appointed betters to arrange things for us.
That being the one lesson they were not willing to learn, we have been constitutionally paralyzed ever since. We need to take the process back or our 1992 tactical victory will remain a strategic defeat for us and a triumph for business as usual.