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The Famous Five And The Persons Case

951 words - 4 pages

What if you did not count as a person anymore? You would be denied of many rights and freedoms we take for granted today. This was the situation women faced in the past. Before 1929, women didn’t count as “persons”. Although they weren’t denied of all their rights, women weren’t allowed to become senators. Five women in Alberta decided to take action and formed the Famous Five. The Famous Five fought for the rights of women by winning the Persons Case and they’re the reason why women are considered persons today.
The Famous Five are prominent people in Canadian history and they have established many of our rights. The Famous Five consists of Emily Murphy, Henrietta Edwards, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, and Irene Parbly. They are most well-known for winning the Persons Case, but the Famous Five also contributed to the creation of libraries, travelling health clinics, distance education, mother’s allowance, equal citizenship of mothers and fathers, and prison reform. The Famous Five have made many significant contributions to Canada.
The Famous Five are most well-known for winning the Persons Case. The Persons Case started with Emily Murphy wanting to be Canada’s first women senator. She was supported by the Federated Women’s Institute and National Council of Women. Also, over 500 000 people wrote letters and signed petitions to support Murphy being appointed as a senator (Alberta Online Encyclopedia, 2004). However, Robert Borden, the Prime Minister during that time, refused to appoint Murphy into the Senate as women weren’t “persons”. Two other prime ministers, Meighen and Mackenzie both promised to make changes to the British North American Act to include women as persons, but both failed to do so. Frustrated, Emily Murphy decided to take the situation into her own hands.
Murphy decided to approach the issue differently in hopes that she could be a member of the Senate. Section 60 of the Supreme Court of Canada Act stated a group of 5 citizens can appeal through the Federal Cabinet to the Supreme Court of Canada for clarification of a constitution law. On August 27, 1927, Murphy invited four other Alberta women for tea, where the petition to the Supreme Court was discussed. They decided the question to be asked was “Does the word ‘person’ in section 24 of the BNA Act include female persons?” (Section 15, 2004). Unfortunately, in 1928, the Supreme Court of Canada answers this question with no; women weren’t persons. The judges of the Supreme Court stated that when the BNA Act was written, women weren’t allowed vote or run for office and the British House of Lords had no females (Alberta Online Encyclopedia, 2004). Therefore, women didn’t count as “persons”. However, the Famous Five weren’t satisfied with the answer they got and...

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