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.
When, in November last, The Herald began the publication of a series of admittedly brutal articles, dealing with the Quebec Civil Code as it applies to women; it was with the unhappy feeling that we had to be cruel to be kind.
Those articles and their accompanying cartoons were printed with one object in view — to compel public attention toward the vital question of the present impossible status of the women of Quebec.
Whatever else may be said about them, they most decidedly achieved their object.
Since early in December, The Herald’s series entitled “Are Women People?” has been constantly under fire, sometimes, directly, sometimes by inference. The articles in question have been criticised for their brutality; they have been condemned as approaching the sacrilegious. An indignant notary public in an agitated letter to various editors proclaimed himself shocked; a distinguished jurist, who really should have known better attacked The Herald as “an Anglo-Saxon newspaper” — and of the women of Quebec — and even the dear old lady of St. Antoine Street sat upright in her comfortable and conservative rocking chair, and laid aside her knitting long enough to deliver the following profound, if somewhat profuse opinion:
Of course The Gazette did not mention The Herald in this connection. It is the Gazette’s sincere conviction that there is only one newspaper in Montreal, and that that newspaper is published in the morning for the kind of folks who can afford a five cent morning newspaper; but since no other medium has been guilty of “caricaturing possible weaknesses,” the target at which the shaft aims is obvious.
Warships in battle operate in these modern days behind a smoke screen. Reactionary politicians and reactionary editors knew that trick long before admirals thought of it. Dense smoke screens of long words, weighed with the thick vapour of pompous platitudes have been familiar devices with which to obscure public vision for many years. But a smart gunner who knows the location of his target is able to direct a shelf which will penetrate all the smoke screens laid down by all the navies, or all the political apologists in the world.
The target upon which the guns of the militant feminists of this province are trained is revision of the civil code in such a manner that women will be rated as rather higher than imbeciles in the community.
They are not interested in high faulting phrases. They want to see it made impossible that a twelve year old girl can be married without the consent of both her parents.
They are more greatly concerned for the protection of the rights of a married women to ownership of her own pay envelope that they are over the question of whether or not the Quebec Civil Code has or has not sound principles and sane philosophy.
They are more interested in human beings than in abstruse legal theories. They have nothing against the Quebec Civil Code, as such, but they have a great deal against those sections of it which, in the spirit of the Middle Ages, deny to the women of Quebec the legal status which is enjoyed by the women of every other province in the Dominion.
To the indignant notary, the angry jurist, and the verbose newspaper editor, we address these three simple questions:
We can hardly wait for the answers.
Source : “Should Women Vote?”, in Montreal Herald, February 19, 1930, p. 3. Article transcribed by Christina Duong. Revision by Claude Bélanger.
© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College