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.
Vote or no vote, it has proved impossible to entirely eliminate women from public affairs, even in Quebec.
Quebec women teach school, hold responsible positions in business, sometimes own and conduct independent businesses which are their personal property, from and actively participate in social and political clubs, join, and often lead movements for philanthropic objects, or for public welfare, and to a very large extent control the machinery of our various social service agencies.
Yet Quebec denies them the right of franchise, enjoyed by the women of every other Canadian province.
Were it not for the blatant injustice of such a situation, it might well be considered absurd. Persistence on the part of a certain political clique which for some mysterious reason is firmly set against the now universally recognized principle of equal suffrage, makes the issue a serious one. Were it not for this stubborn cabal the women of Quebec might easily be granted the provincial vote at the next session of the legislature.
Intelligent political leaders are not opposed to feminine suffrage. Members of the Dominion Parliament, elected from Quebec constituencies write to The Herald that they believe women should be permitted the franchise, equally with men. Many of them are warmly sincere in their praise of women’s intelligence and acumen in the realm of federal politics. Only in the provincial field do we find this stubborn and unreasonable opposition to the idea of a feminine vote.
There is a very serious question as to whether the Province of Quebec has a right, under the constitution to deny women the provincial franchise, while it is granted them in federal affairs. The Hon. A. R. MacMaster, now a member of Premier Taschereau’s cabinet, is on record a few years back, to the effect, that, broadly speaking, the denial of the provincial franchise to Quebec women might well be considered unconstitutional.
Obviously the present situation works a gross injustice to Quebec women. The province takes from its public spirited women every possible service which they can render. In return it gives them nothing. Not only does it deny them the franchise but, in its administration of the Quebec Civil Code, it persists in classifying them as incompetent before the law, rating them on the same level as minor children and imbeciles.
Canadian history began in Quebec. It is a shameful thing that this ancient province, for so many generations the leader in all things, should so willfully refuse to accept the principle of equal suffrage, adopted years ago by other civilized communities, the world over.
The present situation, with Quebec women exercising their franchise in federal affairs, and denied the right to cast a ballot in provincial elections, amounts to deliberate disenfranchisement of a very large portion of the community. The right of the provincial government to disenfranchise the women of this province is by no means firmly established. There is a strong possibility that such an authority does not exist in constitutional law.
But regardless of all constitutional questions, it is obviously absurd that the great body of federally enfranchised women of Quebec, who have voted in large numbers in three Dominion elections should be refused the ballot in provincial contests.
Since they are already established as federal voters, there would be very little difficulty in making women eligible for the provincial franchise. A simple act of the provincial legislature is all that is necessary. Given the will to do so, the Taschereau Government could establish itself in history by granting the vote to Quebec women, in a few days of a regular session.
Incidentally, the change would save the taxpayers’ money and the government time and trouble. At present two separate and distinct voting lists are required for use in this province; one federal list, which includes women, and one provincial list, which omits them.
If Quebec women were completely enfranchised, one list would serve for both purposes.
Source : “Should Women Vote?” The Montreal Herald, February 25, 1930, p. 3. Articles transcribed by Christina Duong. Revision by Claude Bélanger
© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College