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.
Why are Quebec women denied the franchise? When we come to probe reasons for this absurd situation, seeking logic and common sense, only lie bewilderment results.
Opponents of the equal suffrage movement advance no factual arguments on behalf of their cause. They do not, perhaps because they cannot, give you justification for their attitude which has body, or consequence. Nothing that provides firm ground for argument.
Mr. Taschereau says that Quebec women do not want the vote, that they can have the vote when they convince him that they demand it.
Mr. Perron on the other hand stands Ajax-like on a lonely promontory, and states that when women get into public life, he will get out of it.
This may be a reason for refusing the franchise to Quebec women in the mind of Mr. Perron. Whether it is a reason in the minds of intelligent male voters of Quebec as a body, is open to question.
Analysis of the situation develops a preponderence [sic] of logic on the side of the protagonists of the equal suffrage cause which is overwhelming.
As The Herald sees it, these are the substantial facts on both sides:
In Quebec, women vote in Dominion elections. They are not permitted to vote in provincial elections. The women of every other Canadian province vote in both federal and provincial elections. So, a Quebec woman has a voice in who is to be the next prime minister of Quebec. Does that make sense?
In Quebec, as elsewhere in the Dominion women pay taxes on their property, bear children, obey the laws, or pay the prescribed penalties for disobedience; but in Quebec they have no control of their property, if they are married. The husband controls everything they won, even their wages, if they work for wages; their authority over their children is subordinate to that of the husband, and the laws which they are required to obey are made by men alone; women have no voice in their creation or their amendment, because they have no vote. Does that make sense?
Quebec women are denied the provincial franchise. Women of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia have the franchise in provincial as in federal affairs. Does that make sense?
Against these arguments we have Mr. Taschereau’s belief that Quebec women do not want the vote; and Mr. Perron’s terrible threat that he will quit public life when women enter it.
The Herald believes that Mr. Taschereau is wrongly informed on the question of whether or not women in Quebec want the vote. It may be true that in remote rural districts, out of touch with modern political progress, older women are apathetic toward, this issue. Some of them may be hostile, even.
But there are in Quebec many thousands of women, educated, intelligent, alert, French and English speaking, Catholic and Protestant in religion, Liberal and Conservative in politics, who not only want the vote, but demand it.
Every school teacher wants to vote.
Every intelligent mother wants to vote.
Every women who has suffered, as thousands have, through the absurd out-dated administration of the Quebec Civil Code, which denies a woman the right to control her own property, her own wages, and even denies her equal control with her husband of her own children, wants to vote.
If Mr. Taschereau is honestly unaware of the tremendous tide of public opinion which is now flowing toward equal feminine suffrage in this province, he will not long remain in ignorance. The women will inform him of their wishes.
As for Mr. Perron’s argument that when women enter public life he will retire from it. The Herald is of the opinion that it is more important that Quebec women should vote than that Mr. Perron should remain in public life.
The thing that puzzles this newspaper is that Mr. Perron holding the extreme Tory views he professes on the question of feminine suffrage should still have the temerity to describe himself as liberal.
Source : “Should Women Vote?” The Montreal Herald, February 26, 1930, p. 3. Articles transcribed by Christina Duong. Revision by Claude Bélanger
© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College