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The Person’s Case and the “Famous Five”

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1 The Person’s Case and the “Famous Five”

2 The Person’s Case In 1916 Emily Murphy became the first female Magistrate (Judge) in Canadian history and the British Commonwealth. Women had been elected in the Alberta legislature within a year of getting the vote and Nellie McClung won a seat in Edmonton in 1921. However, according to the BNA Act (1867) only “persons” could hold seats in a legislature or be a judge in a court of law. According to law, women were not considered at this time to be “persons” with respect to “rights” and “privileges” Emily Murphy

3 Supreme Court Challenge
Murphy had an idea. The senate was filled with senators and they were “persons”. As a result, if a Canadian prime minister appointed her to the senate it would prove that she was a person too. Interesting logic! Her request was rejected. However, she read that 5 “concerned citizens” could request a Supreme court hearing on any point in the British North American Act so she launched a Supreme Court Challenge along with four other women. Hence, the “Famous Five”

4 The Famous Five Emily Murphy: Judge
Henrietta Edwards: Co-founder of the National Council of Women Nellie McClung: Former member of the Alberta Legislature Louise McKinney: Former member of the Alberta Legislature Irene Parlby: Alberta Cabinet Minister The Famous Five

5 On April 28th 1928, the Supreme Court of Canada said “No”
On April 28th 1928, the Supreme Court of Canada said “No”. Women were not “legally” persons under the law. For a judge like Emily Murphy, this made her job impossible. As one lawyer said to her in a court of law, “how can you judge a case when you’re not even a person!” However, the famous five rejected the Canadian Supreme court and went to London England to have their case heard by a higher court: The British Privy Council”. The Privy Council Office

6 It took Britain involvement to provide rights for Canada’s women!
In a landmark ruling on Oct. 18th, 1929 the Council ruled that women were indeed “persons under the law”. It took Britain involvement to provide rights for Canada’s women! “The exclusion of women from public offices is a relic of days more barbarous than ours. And to those who would ask why the word ‘persons’ should include females, the obvious answer is, ‘why should it not?’ British Privy Council 1929

7 The Flappers Flappers were the fashionable, independent young women of the 1920’s. They rebelled against the way women had been treated, hating the fact that men had the best jobs and earned more money. They also hated the traditional role of women as a wife and mother. Named because of their tendency to let their boot laces ‘flap’ around their ankles, flappers were easy to recognize.

8 These liberated women wore short skirts, revealing tops, had short, bobbed hairstyles and wore lots of make-up. The new energetic dances of the Jazz-Age also required women to be able to move freely, which corsets did not allow – and so many flappers stopped wearing them altogether. They smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol in public.

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