Hon. WILLIAM PUGSLEY (St. John city) moved:
That, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable that the Government should promote legislation to amend The Dominion Elections Act, so as to provide that upon any province/ of Canada enacting legislation giving women the right to vote for members of the Provincial Legislature, such women as are on the Provincial voters lists, or as are otherwise entitled to vote for members of the Legislature in such province, shall also, unless otherwise disqualified, have the right to vote at elections for members of this House.
He said: Mr. Speaker, it is now nearly thirty years since I had the honour of proposing in the Provincial Legislature of New Brunswick a resolution to grant to women the right of suffrage. I had made that question an issue at the polls in the county for which I was a candidate, and I was elected. The people approved of my stand, but the resolution which I proposed was defeated in the Legislature by a small majority, and although the resolution was largely supported, the proposed measure never became law. Entertaining the views which I did at that time, that it was proper to grant to women the right of voting, and not having seen any occasion since to change those views, it is particularly gratifying to me at
the present time to know that a Bill has already passed the Legislature of Manitoba granting equal suffrage to women, and that at the opening of the session of the Alberta Legislature, it was declared in the speech from the Throne that one of the principal measures which the Government would submit would be a Bill granting female suffrage. I have the Edmonton Bulletin, which contains the speech of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, and I find in it the following paragraph:
For many years there has been a growing feeling that the equality of the sexes should be recognized, and that the women, who, perhaps in a special degree in a new country, have aided in the development, put up with the hardships and assisted in the prosperity, should have the right to take an equal part in the Government of the country. My Government has considered this question, and has decided that so far as the legislature has power, this equality should in Alberta be fixed by law, and that for the future there should be no distinction of sexes in our province.
I think that declaration reveals the spirit which should animate the members of legislatures in the other provinces of Canada, as well as the members of this Parliament.-For my part, I do not see that one supporting the proposition of equal suffrage is called upon to present any arguments in -its favour, because I think that the burden should rest entirely upon those who oppose the granting of this measure of justice. I am unable to see one reasonable argument that can be presented against granting to the women of our country the same right to -share in public affairs, the same Tight to vote for members of the legislatures, or of Parliament, as is granted to the male portion of the community. But, with respect to the. resolution which I have ventured to submit for the opinion of this House, it is not necessary, I think, that one should declare in the abstract in favour of granting female suffrage and for this reason: when the Liberal party came into power in 1896, there was then upon the statute book an Act providing for a federal franchise and providing federal machinery for the making up of the lists of voters and for the qualification of voters. The Liberal Government took office, and at a very early period it carried through Parliament a measure doing away with the Federal Franchise Act and making provision that the provincial lists in the various provinces, and the law providing the -qualification of voters, should govern in federal elections as well. During the whole of the period while tiie Liberal party was in power.
that principal was adhered to. The Conservative party has now been in office governing this country for upwards of four years, and no move has been made to change the present Dominion Elections Act. So, I think we may fairly take it for granted that both parties in this country are agreed that whatever may be the qualification for voters for the provincial legislatures in the different provinces, shall also be the law in so far as the right of electors to vote for the Dominion House of Commons is concerned.
It will be observed that my resolution only proposes that the Government should frame legislation to provide that in those provinces where the right of suffrage has been granted to women by the legislatures, women in those provinces shall have the right to vote at elections for members of the House of Commons. The necessity for making some such provision, I think, will be abundantly clear from an examination of the Dominion Elections Act. An examination of the provisions of the Revised Statutes of Canada, Volume 1, chap. 6, shows that in respect to all of the provinces, except Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon Territory, there is no express prohibition of women voting.
Subtopic: WOMAN SUFFRAGE.