For many Canadians, the historic constitutional referendum soundly rejected by voters on October 26 was a distraction from more crucial problems facing the country. "People were inundated with the referendum, at the expense of real issues that matter," Leah Hodge, an editorial staff member at Montreal's The Afro Canadian, told Sojourners after the vote. "People want to know where jobs are coming from; they couldn't care less about the power that provinces want."
The lopsided vote against the proposed constitutional reform package has been seen as a massive repudiation of Canada's political establishment, since prominent politicians of most mainstream parties - with the notable exception of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, as well as leaders of the Prairies' Reform Party and others - campaigned in support of the accords.
A yes vote on the reform package would have secured a new level of government for Inuits (Eskimos) and native Canadians, some of whom expressed bitterness over the vote. In a reference to the summer-long standoff at Oka in 1990 between Mohawks and Quebec police, Ron George, head of the Native Council of Canada, said the night after the referendum, "If there are more Okas, if there are more roadblocks, if there are more people that continue to kill themselves, congratulations, you won. You've kept the status quo." Others were more optimistic, referring to public opinion surveys showing broad support for native self-government and saying the objective could be reached by extraconstitutional means.