As Hitler attacked the Jews in the 1930s many of them sought refuge in other countries, including Canada. Prime Minister Mackenzie King counseled Canadian Jewish groups and concerned MPs to work quietly behind the scenes, implying that something would be done, but he took no action. There was a significant public sentiment in the country against Jewish immigration, and Canada actually turned away a ship containing Jews fleeing Germany. On 30 June 1939 a Quebec MP tabled a petition signed by thousands demanding that the government not allow Jews into Canada. That prompted A. A. Heaps, a CCF MP from Winnipeg, who had accepted King’s advice about quietly diplomacy, to rise in the House and criticize both the prime minister and his government’s inaction. Heaps was one of the few Jewish Members of Parliament. Continue reading A.A. Heaps on Jewish exclusion, January 1939
Women received the vote in Manitoba in January 1916 and it did not happen by accident. Nellie McClung and others were forced to take an overtly political route to get there. McClung was well known in western Canada as a writer and an activist for women’s rights. On 27 January 1914, Manitoba Premier Rodmond Roblin and members of the legislature met with McClung and a delegation of several hundred from the Political Equality League, which was seeking the vote for women. Roblin treated them condescendingly, and flatly refused them, saying, “I believe woman suffrage would break up the home and send women to mix up in political meetings.” The following evening McClung and others turned that meeting into a piece of guerrilla theatre. McClung played the premier’s role and mimicked his inflated rhetoric in a mock speech which she made to a fictitious group of men appearing before women legislators asking for the right to vote.
“Man was made for something higher than voting” Continue reading Nellie McClung on women and the vote, January 1914