The fight for women's suffrage, or the right to vote, was the major issue for Québec feminists in the first half of the 20th century. Women who clamoured for this right put forward two mainarguments: the first, upheld by Marie Lacoste-Gérin-Lajoie (1867-1945) and the FNSJB, asserted mothers' traditional social role and emphasized what the maternal instinct had to offer for a new vision ofsociety. This input could only be beneficial to society as a whole, they said, and did not in any way constitute a threat to the established order. Stressing the difference between men and women, thisargument gave rise to the concept of maternalism.
In contrast, the second argument in favour of women's suffrage was advanced by liberal feminists like Idola Saint-Jean (1880-1945) and Thérèse Casgrain(1896-1981). In their view, men and women were similar enough that they ought to be considered as equals before the law and enjoy the same rights. In 1929 Thérèse Casgrain founded the League for Women'sRights in an effort to organize the struggle more effectively. Once a year, the League joined forces with the Alliance Canadienne pour le Vote des Femmes du Québec (established in 1927), headed byIdola Saint-Jean, in a march on the Québec legislature to call on the government to grant women the right to vote. Feminists also expressed their demands in writing, notably in the FNSJB's periodical Labonne parole.
Québec women obtain right to vote
The various elites of Québec society were opposed to women's suffrage. Some intellectuals, including Henri Bourassa (1868-1952), and the RomanCatholic Church, as represented by cardinals Msgr. Bégin (1840-1925) and Msgr. Villeneuve (1883-1947), regarded it as a threat to the family and to the Roman Catholic faith. The provincial Liberals ofLouis-Alexandre Taschereau (1867-1952) and subsequently the Union Nationale under Maurice Duplessis (1890-1959) feared that granting women the right to vote would work in their political opponents'...
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