Suffrage: The Women's Parliament

Image of McNaughton, Haight, and Stocking
Violet McNaughton, Zoe Haight, and Erma Stocking
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In January 1914, the women of Manitoba's Political Equality League staged what observers called a brilliant satire--the Women's Parliament (Herstory 1977). Nellie McClung (Herstory 1974) played the premier, other women played the members of parliament.

The curtain opened to reveal the parliament receiving petitions--one asked for a law to ban men's 6" collars and scarlet ties, another asked for labour saving devices for men. After some other business, a deputation of men ar rived with a wheelbarrow full of petitions, asking for votes for men. After the delegation spoke, the premier, Nellie McClung, rose to speak. The crowd at Winnipeg's Walker Theatre eagerly awaited her talk; they were not disappointed.

If men were all so intelligent as these representatives of the downtrodden sex seem to be it might not do any harm to give them the vote. But all men are not so intelligent. There is no use giving men votes. They wouldn't use them. They would let them spoil and go to waste. Then again, some men would vote too much...Giving men the vote would unsettle the home....The modesty of our men, which we reverence, forbids us giving them the vote. Men's place is on the farm...It may be that I am old-fashioned. I may be wrong. After all, men may be human. Perhaps the time may come when men may vote with the women--but in the meantime, be of good cheer. Advocate and Educate.

The mock parliament brought many new supporters to the suffrage cause; it also made the suffragists realize that they would have to defeat the Roblin government in order to get the vote. They helped bring in a Liberal government at the next election, and soon after women had the vote.



Disturbers are never popular--nobody ever really loved an alarm clock in action--no matter how grateful they may have been afterwards for its kind services.
(Nellie McClung)


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