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The Right to Vote in Provincial and Territorial Elections
Original title:  Was there a Suffragist in your family? | The Manitoba Museum

Source: Link

 

Date

Province/Territory

28 January 1916

Manitoba

14 March 1916

Saskatchewan

19 April 1916

Alberta

5 April 1917

British Columbia

12 April 1917

Ontario

26 April 1918

Nova Scotia

17 April 1919

New Brunswick

20 May 1919

Yukon

3 May 1922

Prince Edward Island

13 April 1925

Dominion of Newfoundland

25 April 1940

Quebec

12 June 1951

Northwest Territories

 

The lawyer, professor, author, and politician Alfred Augustus STOCKTON fought for women’s rights in New Brunswick on many occasions:

True to their Liberal formation, Stockton’s political ideas display a strong democratic tinge. He upheld the principle of universal suffrage and favoured elective lieutenant governors and senators. As early as 1886 he urged the New Brunswick assembly to grant the vote to all adult women; he introduced resolutions in support of female enfranchisement in at least 1889, 1894, 1895, and 1897. His rationale was both progressive – that history was the story of the gradual elevation of women towards equality – and utilitarian. ‘Women,’ he urged, ‘were specially interested in temperance and educational questions, and . . . in these matters the province would be the gainer by giving the legislative franchise to women.’ While Stockton’s resolutions were neither the earliest nor the most radical New Brunswick proposals, and while they were unsuccessful (albeit narrowly), his status as leader of the opposition made him the foremost legislative spokesman for woman’s suffrage in the 1890s.”

 

The United Farmers of Alberta was one of the associations that supported suffragists. James SPEAKMAN, a farmer and president of the UFA, backed their cause:

“Speakman was president during a significant year for social reform in Alberta. Women had been entitled to full membership in the [United Farmers of Alberta] since 1913, and at the convention that elected Speakman two years later, they formed an auxiliary, with Mary Irene Parlby [Marryat*] as first president. The UFA was already on record in support of women’s suffrage, and Speakman joined Nellie Letitia McClung [Mooney*] in a vigorous campaign. In a letter to Speakman published in the Grain Growers’ Guide for September 1915, Premier Arthur Lewis Sifton* agreed to introduce a suffrage bill at the next session of the legislature. Prohibition was another concern of the UFA, which had passed resolutions supporting it in 1913 and 1914. During the prohibition referendum in Alberta, Speakman campaigned energetically for the dry vote, which prevailed in July 1915. Bills for both temperance and women’s suffrage would be passed the following year.”

 

For her part, secretary and probation officer Maria Heathfield POLLARD (Grant) played a major role in gaining women’s suffrage in British Columbia:

After World War I broke out in 1914, suffrage activity declined. Grant and the Victoria [Political Equality League] established the Women’s Industrial Centre to provide work for women as tailors. Grant also helped to create a day nursery for working mothers. Meanwhile, as women in British Columbia and elsewhere worked diligently on behalf of the war effort, their right to vote gained popular support. The provincial election of September 1916 included a plebiscite on women’s suffrage. When a large majority voted in favour of the measure, she simply declared, ‘It’s good just to have lived to see this day.’ She led a delegation to the new premier, Harlan Carey Brewster*, to protest delays in implementation of the provincial franchise, which women finally obtained on 5 April 1917.”

 

In Nova Scotia, scholar Eliza RITCHIE was a leading figure in the suffragist movement:

“Revealing the democratic ideals that motivated her, Ritchie wrote in the Halifax Herald of 2 May [1917], ‘It is not for any little group of “intellectuals” in Halifax and a few other towns that we desire political freedom, we want the great mass of our people, men and women both, [to] be sensible of, and to exercise their responsibility for, the good government of the country.’”

 

The journalist Genevieve Elsie Alice LIPSETT (Skinner) belonged to a group of pioneering women who took advantage of the new-won right of eligibility that allowed women to stand as candidates for office:

After Manitoban women obtained the right to vote in provincial elections and sit in the assembly under legislation introduced by the Liberal government of Tobias Crawford Norris in 1916, Genevieve saw another challenge. In 1920 she was nominated as a Conservative candidate in the riding of Winnipeg and thus became one of the first Canadian women to contest a provincial election.”

 

To learn more about the activists and sympathizers who campaigned for the right to vote in provincial and territorial elections, and about winning this battle and the right to run for office, we invite you to consult the biographies in the following lists:

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