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.
One of frequently heard opinions when some politicians discuss the question of feminine suffrage in Quebec, is that the women are not interested in the vote.
In the face of the long enduring and presently increasing agitation on the part of a very large portion of Quebec’s feminine population seeking the franchise for women, this claim is manifestly untrue; nevertheless political opponents of women’s suffrage do not hesitate to repeat it on every possible occasion.
They insist that the vast bulk of the women of Quebec would not exercise the franchise if they had it; but how can they possibly be sure of that?
Women in every country in the world which grants them the franchise were slow to realize their political responsibilities at first. That was inevitable. Trained through the ages, in what now appears as the absurd contention that the franchise was a matter of sex qualification first and last, without regard to social changes intelligence or taxation, it was entirely to be expected that women would not plunge immediately into the political field; but at this time it is history that once the franchise is granted them, women do take a keen, active and steadily progressive interest in municipal and state affairs.
In Great Britain and in the United States, both countries which led Canada in the granting of equal suffrage, women, who at first were comparatively apathetic regarding the exercises of their unfamiliar privilege have in recent years continuously increased their interest in political affairs.
To-day, Great Britain has a woman Cabinet Minister, a number of women Members of Parliament, numerous women Mayors, and a vast number of women town councilors.
In the United States women are Members of Congress, Judges and Magistrates and Aldermen; — or Alderwomen, if you prefer.
Canada has one notable woman Member of Parliament in Miss Agnes MacPhail. Very shortly Canada will assuredly have women Senators.
The extension of the voting age to women in Great Britain—the so-called “flapper vote” —is credited with a very large share in the return of the MacDonald government to power in the last election.
In every country which has enfranchised its women during the past quarter of a century the feminine voters have displayed a steadily increasing interest in the intelligent exercise of their newly granted citizenship.
What honest reason is there to suppose that the intelligent women of this province would react in a contrary fashion?
Of course there is no honest reason to believe anything of the sort. The essential weakness of the case against the extension of the provincial franchise of Quebec women, is its basic insincerity.
Few of the gentlemen who so strongly oppose the movement may be honestly convinced for some obscure reason that the enfranchisement of women is a mistake — that all the rest of the civilized world is wrong and that only in the provincial politics of Quebec is the perfect state found.
There may be a few such. It seems unlikely.
The Herald is convinced that the opposition to feminine suffrage in Quebec, in this most bitterly expressed phrases is inspired by political opportunism, rather than by sincere conviction.
As things now stand we have the amazing spectacle of Mr. A and Mr. X and Mr. Z, political orators, girding themselves for the fray in the Dominion election, mounting their respective platforms and urging intelligent women that it is their sacred duty to vote, while, during a Provincial campaign the same Mr. A and Mr. X and Mr. Z from the same platforms will assure the same women that entrance to the political field would degrade them.
Such a condition displays neither sincerity nor sense.
If it is right for women to vote for a member of parliament to represent them at Ottawa, it cannot be wrong for them to vote for another member of parliament to represent them at Quebec.
Not unless black is white and two and two make seven and seven-eighths.
Source : “Should Women Vote?”, in Montreal Herald, February 17, 1930, p. 3. Article transcribed by Christina Duong. Revision by Claude Bélanger.
© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College