Macdonald Commission

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The Royal Commission on the Economic Union and Development Prospects for Canada, also known as the Macdonald Commission, was a historic landmark in Canadian economy policy. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau appointed the Royal Commission in 1982, and it presented its recommendations to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in 1984. The commission's recommendations reflect three broad themes mainly derived from neoconservative ideology.

Firstly, the report suggested for Canada to foster a more flexible economy, which would be capable of adjusting to international and technological change, and it recommended greater reliance on the market mechanisms and a free trade agreement with the United States. Secondly, the commission recommended various reforms to the welfare state model and emphasized social equity and economic efficiency. Thirdly, 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. Mulroney began trade negotiations with the American administration shortly after the report was released. Indeed, free trade is regarded as the signature recommendation of the commission.



  • 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.

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