At the same time, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was added in place of the previous Bill of Rights. Some of the negotiations between provincial and federal leaders, specifically those concerning the so-called Notwithstanding Clause, had failed to included Quebec Premier René Lévesque. Resentment over this "stab in the back" led to attempts to veto the constution, which were ultimately ruled out.
Brian Mulroney came to power in the 1984 election, and quickly restored friendlier relations with the United States, which had been strained during Trudeau's time as Prime Minister. Prime Minister Mulroney's major focus was the establishment of free trade with the US, a very controversial topic. Eventually, the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement was signed in January 1988.
Mulroney also worked to appease the sovereignty movement in Quebec. In 1987, he attempted to draft the Meech Lake Accord, amending the 1982 constitution so that it would be acceptable to Quebec, which had not yet signed it. However, the Meech Lake Accord failed to be ratified by all provinces.
In 1989, the Progressive Conservative government of Prime Minister Mulroney proposed the creation of a national sales tax on goods and services (GST). The proposal was an instant controversy; a large proportion of the Canadian population was irritated and disapproved of the tax. Despite protests from the other parties, and even members of Mulroney's own caucus, the GST was introduced on January 1, 1991. The political ramifications of the GST were severe. It contributed to the Mulroney government becoming one of the least popular in Canadian history.
On December 6, 1989, Marc Lépine entered the École Polytechnique in Montreal. He went into an engineering class, separated the men from the women, forced out the men at gunpoint, began to scream about how he hated feminists, and then opened fire on the women. Lépine continued his rampage in other parts of the building, opening fire on other women he encountered. He killed 14 women (13 students and one employee of the university) and injured thirteen others before committing suicide. The massacre profoundly shocked Canadians. The Quebec government and the Montreal city government declared three days of mourning.
Initial news reports did not note that all 14 victims were women. When Lépine's motive became clear, the event served as a massive spur for the Canadian feminist movement and for action against violence against women. In 1991 Parliament officially designated December 6 as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
The Oka Crisis was a land dispute between the Mohawk nation and the town of Oka, Quebec which began on March 11 1990, and lasted until September 26 1990. It resulted in three deaths, and would be the first of a number of violent conflicts between Indigenous people and the Canadian Government in the late 20th century.