CHARLOTTETOWN – October 21, 2010, In recognition of the declaration of the “Person’s Case”, the Honourable Barbara A. Hagerman, Lieutenant Governor of PEI, held a reception at Government House on Monday.
The Persons Case, one of the most famous cases in Canadian legal history, was brought forward by five Alberta women – Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Irene Parlby, Henrietta Muir Edwards and Louise McKinney. They asked the Supreme Court of Canada to declare that women were persons under the meaning of the British North America Act and therefore eligible to be appointed to the Senate. Unfortunately, the judges did not believe that women were persons under the Act. The five appealed to the British Privy Council, in London, England, then Canada’s highest court of appeal. On October 18, 1929, the Privy Council declared that women are indeed persons.
The decision stated “that the exclusion of women from all public offices is a relic of days more barbarous than ours. And to those who would ask why the word “person” should include females, the obvious answer is, why should it not?”
Guest speakers at the reception included Daphne Dumont, Q.C., recipient of the 2009 Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case and founding member of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), Hon. Janice Sherry, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, and Lisa Murphy, chairperson of LEAF PEI.
“We are honoured and pleased that the Lieutenant Governor has publically acknowledged the anniversary of this land-mark decision”, commented Murphy. “It was an important stepping stone, leading to Canadian women’s full participation in society”.
LEAF PEI partnered with the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women in assisting the Lieutenant Governor’s Office with this event.