MacDonald Commission

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For the commission that investigated the RCMP, see Royal Commission of Inquiry into Certain Activities of the RCMP

The Royal Commission on the Economic Union and Development Prospects for Canada, known as the Macdonald Commission, (not the "MacDonald" Commission, as the heading of this article incorrectly states) was a historic landmark in Canadian economy policy. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau appointed the commission in 1982 and it presented its recommendations to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in 1985. The commission’s recommendations reflect three broad themes mainly derived from neoconservative ideology. First, the report suggested that Canada foster a more flexible economy, capable of adjusting to international and technological changes. Toward this end, the commission recommended greater reliance on the market mechanisms and that Canada pursue a free trade agreement with the United States. Second, the commission recommended various reforms the welfare state model, emphasizing social equity and economic efficiency. Third, the commission recommended the adoption of an elected Senate in order to better represent Canada’s diverse regions.

Most notably, the commission’s recommendations affected trade policy directly by giving greater legitimacy and momentum to the debate surrounding free trade with the United States. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney began trade negotiations with the American administration shortly after the report was released. Indeed, free trade is regarded as the signature recommendation of this broad and wide-ranging commission.

Commission Members:
Chair – Donald Macdonald
Executive Director – Gerry Godsoe
Director of Policy – Alan Nymark
Directors of Research – Ivan Bernier, Alan Cairns, and David Chadwick Smith (Later, Kenneth Norrie and John Hartley Sargent (1943-2013) took on the roles of co-Directors of Research).
Joint Editorial Head – David Ablett and Michel Vastel.

Other Resources:
[1] In 2005, the C. D. Howe Institute created a volume to mark the 20th anniversary of the Macdonald Commission Report.
Gregory J. Inwood. Continentalizing Canada. The Politics and Legacy of the Macdonald Royal Commission. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005. Gregory J. Inwood. "Of Leaps of Faith and Policy Change: The Macdonald Commission," in Gregory J. Inwood and Carolyn M. Johns, eds. Commissions of Inquiry and Policy Change: A Comparative Analysis." Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014. [2] The Canadian Encyclopedia has an overview.

[3] The University of Toronto has the complete collection available on microtext.