Documents of Quebec History / Documents de l'histoire du Québec
Women's Right to Vote in Quebec
Le droit de vote des femmes du Québec
A series of 10 articles published by the Montreal Herald promoting the right to vote for the women of Quebec (February 17 to February 30, 1930) These article were published in both French and English.
Quebec does herself an injustice when she refuses to permit her women the privilege of the ballot, universally extended to women elsewhere.
Mr. Perron, who has said that he will go out of public life in Quebec when women are permitted to it, does not agree with this. Mr. Taschereau concedes a possibility that there may be something in the claim, when he says that Quebec women can have the vote — when they ask for it.
They are asking for it now.
There is a tendency on the part of some Quebec politicians to continually and repeatedly state that “Quebec is different.” This queer notion is used over and over again to excuse unnecessary delays in the institution of needed reforms. Municipal politicians cherish the same alibi with a profound affection. They tell us “Montreal is different.”
Quebec women are denied the provincial ballot for years after they are granted the federal franchise, because “Quebec is different.” Montreal taxpayers are denied their right to decent traffic regulation, modern methods of garbage disposal by incinceration [sic], to rapid transit by means of underground tubes, and to dozens of other modern improvements in metropolitan life enjoyed by every other city in the world of the size of Montreal, China excepted, because “Montreal is different!
Quebec is different, yes; but the difference is a healthy, invigorating difference, which should make her a leader among the Canadian provinces, not a degrading, crippling, difference which should excuse her laggard footsteps at the tail end of the precession. Montreal is different in the same way.
Hearing these alibi hunting politicians wail that “Quebec is different” one unfamiliar with the conditions in this province would imagine that the difference between this province and other provinces was something which it was necessary to be ashamed. Rather it should be a source of pride.
Quebec is no cripple. She isn’t hunchbacked or hare-lipped, or imbecile among the provinces. There is no reason in her difference from other provinces to rate her as unable to hold her position in the march of progress. Rather otherwise.
Quebec has two ancient and proud races living side by side, speaking each its own language and the language of its fellow race, following each its own religion, and respecting the religion of the other, working and playing in keen and friendly rivalry, tolerant and just, without prejudice and without fear.
In all history no such splendid example of inter-racial co-operation has been known as is offered by the province of Quebec.
French newspapers print editorials in English and quote opinions of English journals. English newspapers print articles in French, and quote opinions of French publicists. French and English speaking aldermen co-operate on bi-lingual town and city councils. French and English speaking representatives co-operate in the legislative assembly.
That is how “Quebec is different.” What reason to suggest that so splendid a difference is an excuse for inertia, for lack of progress, for defiance of public opinion to the extent that women who vote in federal elections may not vote in provincial matters?
Quebec needs the services of her enfranchised women in the intelligent direction of her provincial affairs. This province inflicts a willful injury on her own good name so long as she persists in classifying her feminine population with imbeciles and minor children.
The women of other Canadian provinces, from Cape Breton to Prince Rupert have the vote. Not Quebec, but a certain dominant and stubborn reactionary element among the male politicians of Quebec refuses to concede that Quebec women are entitled to the same privilege.
Quebec women pay taxes; they obey the laws, or suffer for disobedience of the law, equally with men; but they, and they alone of all the women of Canada are permitted no voice in the election of the representatives of the people who create and interpret the laws.
Ontario women, Nova Scotia women, British Columbia women are sorry for Quebec women. They say, “You poor things. Isn’t it too bad that your government refuses you the franchise which we enjoy. We are so sorry for you.”
Quebec women do not want anyone to be sorry for them. They want their just rights. They want the franchise. They should have had it years ago.
Source : “Should Women Vote?” The Montreal Herald, February 21, 1930, p. 3. Articles transcribed by Christina Duong. Revision by Claude Bélanger
© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College