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Quebec Suffrage Movement Essay

1421 words - 6 pages

As a society develops, it changes as well. During the colonial development period, society was a blank canvas which followed the rules and traditions of the settlers and the colonizing countries. One of the many traditions was the role and duties of the people, meaning the notion of citizenship. In other words, how does a person define themselves as a person of their home country? Many would answer their right to vote. However, there were limitations to the right to vote. This privilege was only given to young white men with property ownership. During the early nineteenth century, Europe lead the women suffrage movement that expanded to women everywhere who fought for the right to vote. It ...view middle of the document...

Canadian Suffrage and The Status of Women
In comparison to the European and American suffrage movements, Canada’s campaign for women’s right to vote was just beginning and rather tame except for Quebec. From the legislative standpoint, the emergence of the women’s suffrage came about during Prime Minister Macdonald’s government, in 1883 to 1885, where he wanted to establish a uniform electoral census across the provinces.2 It was an initiative of the National Policy, in which the purpose is to unify Canada and centralize the government. This began the debates and discussions over women’s right to vote. Still, the decentralization of the issue invoked the image that Canada was fragmented, since the suffragettes had to lobby their provincial governments.3 The movement promoted its cause through pressuring authorities, organizing reunions, making petitions, public speaking, etc.4 It took a while for the social advancement of the suffragette movement which is demonstrated that it endured from 1917 to 1940 for all of Canadian women to be able to vote. However, one province after another, during the early twentieth century, was able to get signatures for the petitions for women’s right to vote. As a result, in 1917, the federal government gave the right to vote to mothers of soldiers, who could not vote since they were at war.5 In 1918, the right to vote was extended to all Canadian women of the population with the condition of an age limit that was 21 years old.6 Yet, the problem remains is that Quebec’s society and culture had traditional issues that stalled the French Canadian women the right to vote until 1940.
On the other hand, the objection of Canada toward women’s right to vote echoed across most of the provinces. By challenging the social and political suppression of women, the movement needed to change the perceived image of what a woman should be and do. Within the status of women, the consequences of the first and second World War enabled women to join the workforce to fill-in for the drafted male workers. The taste of working and being self-sufficient awakened women to desire more for themselves. This is what changed for women and the workforce. Still, the subordination of the wife to her husband presents the oppression of women that leads to the man having the socio-economical authority.7 The argument is that the role of women is dependent on her husband. This is what they wanted to change. Ergo, they needed the Canadian society to accept that women could have an active social role, besides the upbringing of the children.

The Quebec Situation and French-Canadian Family
Now, by understanding the Quebec background, the opposition arguments will highlight the Quebec attitude towards women’s right to vote. Within the province of Quebec, their suffrage has been compared to Great Britain’s feminine struggle. Legislatively, in 1883, Quebec’s response to Macdonald’s government modification to the electoral census was unwelcoming, since...

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