Women's suffrage and temperance groups played particularly compelling roles in the eugenics movement. They had their greatest influence in Alberta, where Canada's first woman magistrate Emily Murphy lectured widely on the dangers of bad genes. "Insane people," she proclaimed, "are not entitled to progeny." Another prominent campaigner for sterilization was the suffragist Liberal MLA Nellie McClung, whose promotion of the benefits of sterilization, especially for "young simple-minded girls," was vital to the passage of eugenics legislation in Alberta. Another of the "Famous Five," the Hon. Irene Parlby, repeatedly alarmed the public to the growing rate at which the "mentally deficient" were propagating. Her "great and only solution to the problem" was sterilization.
In 1933 the McClungs moved to Lantern Lane, a country home near Victoria, British Columbia. Here Nellie completed a two-volume autobiography: (1935), a graphic portrayal of Manitoba pioneer life, and (1945), a less effective account of her political activities and writing career. She continued to write short stories and a popular syndicated column. Many of her shorter works were published as collections. In all she published 16 books. In addition to her writing she continued an active life in the Canadian Authors' Association, as the only woman on the first board of governors of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as a delegate to the League of Nations in 1938, and as a public lecturer. During the last ten years of her life poor health severely limited her activities, but she still welcomed many visitors and kept in close touch with world affairs through radio, books, and magazines. She died on September 1, 1951.
While women were granted the right to vote in most Canadian provinces, lobby groups seeking to improve the status of women on a social, economic, legal and even political level, continued to argue their case. Indeed, women were not legally recognized as "." Furthermore, when women married, they lost all of their rights. It was the "Famous 5" (Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Irene Parlby, Louise McKinney and Nellie McClung) who contested the legal interpretation of the word "person" before the Supreme Court of Canada in 1927. In its ruling, the Canadian Court stipulated that the term "person" did not apply to women, alleging that when the was signed, did not consider women as "qualified persons." If the had included women in this definition, it would have been duly noted. The Famous 5 appealed the ruling before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council of London, which reversed the of the Supreme Court of Canada. The Privy Council stipulated that the term "person" was ambiguous and that if Parliament had wanted to exclude women from the term "person," it should have said so. And so it came to pass that in 1929, women acquired the right to exercise official functions, to attend university, and to practice a liberal trade.
In 1911 the McClungs moved to Winnipeg, the booming provincial capital. Here a vigorous women's rights and reform movement appreciated Nellie's capacity to win audiences with humorous arguments and to debate effectively with hecklers. The Conservative government of Manitoba under Premier Sir Rodmond Roblin repeatedly refused to consider women's suffrage or prohibition; therefore, McClung took a leading role in the 1914 political campaign in which the Liberal Party advocated these and many other reforms. In a hilarious stage presentation of a women's parliament approached by a delegation of men seeking the vote, McClung's devastating mimicry of the pompous Roblin was credited with opening the eyes of many to the absurdity of the arguments against women's suffrage. During the campaign her much-quoted speeches made her the target of bitter attack in the Conservative press.
Nellie Mcclung - Essay by Mmcca518
Nellie Letitia McClung (1873-1951) was a Canadian suffragist, social reformer, legislator, and author. She is probably the most frequently quoted feminist writer in Canada.