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.
This will conclude the series of articles, which have been published in The Herald daily for the last ten days, dealing with the question of the political status of women in the province of Quebec. These articles have in a dignified and dispassionate manner, treated the question from every aspect and no fair minded individual can possibly arrive at any conclusion, other than, that the women of this province, occupy a very inferior position with respect to their rights when compared with practically every other civilized community on earth.
In view of the foregoing, one is impelled to ask, what is the reason? This is not an easy question to answer. As a matter of fact, it is exceedingly difficult to discover, the exact reasons why this condition should exist in the Province of Quebec. Generally, when all the logic, all the reason and all the justice is on one side, the other side must give way and does give way with varying degrees of grace. It is however, not so, in the Province of Quebec, or it might be more accurate to say, taht it has not so far been so. This unhappy state of affairs cannot possibly survive much longer. The legislators at Quebec might just as well try to permanently stem the tide at Niagara, as to try and rob the women of the province of their just and proper privileges. The force of public opinion which is every day, like a snowball, gaining strength will eventually overwhelm them and the feminist question will be their undoing.
In view of all this then, why do they persist in their refusal to grant the vote to the women?
Is the answer to be sought in the fact, that the process of miscegenation has not been promoted to any advanced degree in the Province of Quebec, where the two great races which compose the population remain distinct, which condition frequently proves to be a stumbling block in the pathway of progress due to a different viewpoint, rather than any antagonism on the part of either component of the population to the principle of progress.
This cannot be the reason, because the Province of Quebec has given the lead to the other provinces of Canada with respect to many phases of public endeavor and it can be truthfully said, that in the vast majority of instances, the two great races work together with a surprising degree of harmony. The recent vote taken in the legislature, with reference to the question of the admission of women to the practice of law in Quebec, revealed the fact, that the assembly did not divide on racial lines and then in addition to this, some of the most cultured and progressive French-Canadians are aligned with their similarly qualified Anglo-Saxon fellow citizens on the side of the women. This then disposes of the possibility of a racial difference, being the raison d’être for the stubborn resistance of the legislature to yield to the appeal of the Quebec women.
It cannot be a question of religious difference, because some of the most eminent Catholic leaders, even including His Holiness, The Pope himself are favorable to the cause of the women. If it were true, that the Church was, as a body, opposed to the principle of the franchise, such distinguished members of the Quebec clergy as Father Forest would not openly espouse the cause of the women.
It is obvious therefore, that the failure of the women to secure their rights in the Province of Quebec, cannot with justice, be laid at the door of the Church.
When all the evidence is examined, it becomes plain, that the legislators at Quebec are giving an exhibition of stubbornness in this matter, which has exceeded all the bounds of reason or common sense. There exists to-day, not one sound reason why the women of the Province of Quebec should not be brought into line with the women of all the other provinces of Canada and all civilized communities of the world. That the provincial government will eventually be compelled to yield goes without saying, because no great reform one earnestly begun, can be arrested in its progress since it is not in the nature of events to do so.
The women of Quebec will secure their just political rights. We are sure that their triumph cannot long be delayed. The absurdity of the situation will render it necessary to give to the women of the province, the place for which they long been eminently qualified to occupy in our provincial life.
Source : “Should Women Vote?” The Montreal Herald, February 27, 1930, p. 3. Articles transcribed by Christina Duong. Revision by Claude Bélanger
© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College