British Columbia, Canada Celebrates Centennial for Women’s Right to Vote

Women were enfranchised on April 5, 1917 in B.C. — the fourth province to allow women to vote after Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. But First Nations people and Asian-Canadians of Japanese, Chinese and South Asian couldn't vote until the late 1940s. Credit: Sunday Edition.

CBC News made a report on the centennial of women’s right to vote in British Columbia, Canada. It was at that time that British Columbia provided the right for most women to vote.

The enfranchisement of women was April 5, 1917 in British Columbia, which was the fourth province to make voting legal for women. The provinces in Canada that allowed women the right to vote earlier were Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.

That is, Canadian democracy is only about 100 years old by definition. The suffragette movement in British Columbia began over a period of several decades, according to SFU Gender and Women’s Studies professor Lara Campbell, which had its roots in the temperance movement.

“Suffrage didn’t extend to all women at the time. First Nations people and Asian-Canadians of Japanese, Chinese and South Asian descent didn’t get the right to vote until the late 1940s,” the article said.

There were movements such as the women’s Christian Temperance Union that considered alcohol as one main issue for women of the time. Campbell said, “Women bore the brunt of men drinking alcohol particularly at a time when women didn’t have control over their wages and how to spend family income.”

The first groundwork for the movement according to Campbell occurred in the 1870s, almost a century and a half ago, with Susan B. Anthony, the American suffragette who visited Victoria, British Columbia and ‘gave a talk.’

Anthony was “shocked” by the attendance of men at the talk. “Women in B.C. cities were first allowed to vote for school board trustees in 1884, if they owned property,” CBC News reported.

When 1912 came around the corner, the opposition party – the liberals – took women’s rights (women’s suffrage) as one of its causes. “It put enfranchisement to a vote in a referendum during the fall election of 1916 — it was the only Canadian province to do so.”

That passed in addition to the legislation in the following spring. At that time, women aged 21 and older were given the right to vote, and eventually in 1918, federally. “I think that suffragists would have maybe been disappointed that women were still so underrepresented politically,” Campbell stated when speaking on the present state of affairs.

Circa 2013, BC Speaker Linda Reid made the statement that British Columbia provided or had the greatest number of women or proportional women parliamentarians in Canada.

This was at a total of 36% of the MLA’s. Of course, it is important to note that more work is needed at this time.

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About Scott Jacobsen 317 Articles
Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. Jacobsen works for science and human rights, especially women’s and children’s rights. He considers the modern scientific and technological world the foundation for the provision of the basics of human life throughout the world and advancement of human rights as the universal movement among peoples everywhere.

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