The Person`s Case

January 5, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Social Science, Law, Constitutional Law
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The Roaring 20s: The Person’s Case  

Having made a strong contribution to victory in the war, women had won the right to vote and hold public office But they would have to go all the way to Britain to demand legal recognition as “persons”

The Roaring 20s: Suffragists 

Canada’s women joined their counterparts in Britain, and elsewhere, in the struggle for their rights protests to draw attention to existing inequalities were sometimes met with violent reprisals by the male establishment

The Roaring 20s: Emily Murphy

in 1916, the City of Edmonton appointed Emily Murphy as Judge of the Juvenile Court

within a year, the province of Alberta would make her a provincial magistrate

Murphy was the first female judge in Canada

The Roaring 20s: the challenge 

her first day in court was eventful because a male lawyer challenged the legality of Murphy’s appointment, claiming that only a “qualified person” could preside on the bench

British law considered only men to be persons; women were not even mentioned

The Roaring 20s: the counter challenge 

Canada’s constitution (the BNA Act) stated that Canadian senators must be “qualified persons”

So women could not be senators?

in 1921, the Montreal Women’s Club asked Prime Minister Borden to appoint Emily Murphy to the nation’s Senate

The Roaring 20s: discrimination

  

many people though that Emily Murphy would make an excellent Senator – she worked for poor people, new immigrants, Aboriginal Canadians, children, and her fellow women Prime Minister Borden thought otherwise he claimed it was impossible for him to appoint a female to the Senate women’s groups believed Borden’s decision was discriminatory

The Roaring 20s: the Persons Case 

by 1927, Emily Murphy had had enough of the government and its condescending attitude toward women

• she teamed up with Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby, Henrietta Muir Edwards to fight the “Persons Case” in the courts

The Roaring 20s: Alberta’s “Famous Five” “As persons interested in the admission of women to the Senate…” “Does the word ‘Persons’… include female persons?”

The Roaring 20s: a new era 

the government won round one when the Supreme Court ruled women were not persons, basing its decision on social conditions at the time of Confederation in 1867

however, by 1927, a new century had dawned and times were now markedly different

The Roaring 20s: victory 

the women appealed their case all the way to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in England, the final court of appeal for all members of the British Empire

The Privy Council ruled on October 18, 1929, that women were indeed ‘persons’ and that “the exclusion of women from

all public offices is a relic of days more barbarous than ours”

 

the Alberta Five had triumphed but Emily Murphy never did become a Senator in 1930 Liberal Prime Minister Mackenzie King appointed another Liberal, Cairine Wilson from Montreal, as the first female representative to the Canadian Senate some people believed the Prime Minister passed over Murphy, not because she was a conservative, but because she had caused the government too much trouble

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