28 February 2008
women took on the Supreme Court of Canada and won a place for their own
in Canada’s Senate. In 1928, the Court had ruled that women were not
eligible to become senators because they were not "persons" within the
meaning of the sections of the British North America Act governing
Senate appointments. Henrietta Muir Edwards, Nellie McClung, Louise
McKinney, Emily Murphy and Irene Parlby persuaded the Judicial
Committee of the Privy Council (U.K.), then Canada’s highest court, to
overturn the decision, which it did in 1929. Canada’s first woman
senator was Cairine Wilson (Ontario), appointed in 1930. In 1972,
Muriel McQueen Fergusson (New Brunswick) was named Speaker of the
Senate and became the Parliament of Canada’s first woman Speaker.
Later, in 1993, Joyce Fairbairn (Alberta) was named the first woman
Leader of the Government in the Senate.