The Canadian Annual Review has long been praised for its excellence as a resource work. Widely known for its accuracy, readability, and insight, it offers a synoptic appraisal of the year's crises, controversies, and developments from both federal and provincial perspectives.
While 1989 marked the beginning of profound changes on the international scene, Canadian politics and public affairs were dominated by growing tension in federal-provincial relations. The introduction of the goods and services tax by the Mulroney government, along with other federal belt-tightening measures, had serious side-effects on regional economies all round. The situation was aggravated by continuing conflict over the Meech Lake Accord and increasing signs of a faltering economy. Meanwhile, a spate of political scandals contributed to a growing public mistrust of the political process.
The Canada-US Free Trade Agreement was inaugurated on 1 January and its implementation became one of the major economic issues of the year. On the military front, cuts in the defence budget resulted in significant changes in Canada's defence policy, and the Human Rights Commission ruled that the Canadian Armed Forces could no longer exclude women from combat roles. Other notable events during the year included the halting of construction on the Rafferty-Alameda dam in Saskatchewan on the basis of environmental issues, the shocking murder of fourteen female engineering students at the +cole Polytechnique in Montreal, and the Dubin Inquiry into performance-enhancing drugs in sports.
For the world at large, 1989 will be remembered as the momentous year that the forces of democracy began to sweep over Central and Eastern Europe and South Africa. It is ironic that, as the foundations of the Cold War and apartheid were being shaken abroad, Canada became increasingly preoccupied with internal constitutional, economic, and political divisions.