© McCord Museum
Life's A Meech
Aislin (alias Terry Mosher)
1990, 20th century
28 x 31 cm
Gift of Ms. Iona Monahan
© McCord Museum
Keys to History:
"For a change of pace I sometimes use only words in a cartoon, perhaps to parody or satirize the vernacular of the moment. By 1990, we had all grown tired of hearing the word "Meech" (because of the failed Meech Lake constitutional deal, concocted by Brian Mulroney). There was also an expression very much in the air: "Life's a bitch, then you die!" Thus, this cartoon, which was clipped out of many a newspaper and hung on office walls or fridge doors - the ultimate compliment for any cartoonist."
Cartoons published in newspapers are usually drawings or photomontages retouched with pencil that bring out the grotesque or negative side of the news. Here, Aislin used a method that was unusual for him. To make known, as only a humorist can, his utter disenchantment with the constitutional issue, he based this cartoon on a play on words rather than the exaggeration of the subject's physical characteristics. From the well-known expression "Life's a bitch" it's a short hop, skip and jump to "Life's a Meech!"
Located in Quebec, north of the city of Ottawa, Meech Lake was in the late-19th and early-20th centuries a resort that attracted mostly upper middle-class families, notably, the country's most successful financiers, who built their mansions on its shores. Also built there was one of the official residences of the Canadian Prime Minister. It was there that the constitutional accord bearing its name was drawn up. And because it was never fully ratified, the Meech Lake Accord has become a symbol of the complexity of the relationship between the federal and provincial governments in Canada.
Drawn up in 1987 by the premiers of the provinces under the auspices of the Prime Minister of Canada, the Meech Lake Accord was intended to amend the Canadian constitution of 1982 and to recognize the distinct status of Quebec within Canada. The accord was slated to become law in 1990 upon ratification in each of the ten provincial legislatures. However, what should have been little more than an administrative formality turned into a national psychodrama that, for three long years, was played out almost daily in the national media.
In June 1990, on the eve of the St. Jean Baptiste celebrations in Quebec, two men sounded the death knell of the Meech Lake Accord : Elijah Harper, an Aboriginal and New Democrat member of the Manitoba legislature, who blocked the legislative debate on the subject, and Clyde Wells, premier of Newfoundland who, on the eve of the deadline, refused to submit the accord to the planned ratification vote.