EDMONTON - Politicians like Ralph Klein and Jean Chretien should dust off their history books tomorrow and learn some valuable lessons from the past, says AFL president Audrey Cormack.
Tomorrow is the 70th anniversary of the famous "Persons Case" in which Canadian women were finally recognized as "persons" under law.
"Our leaders today could learn a lot from the women who fought for recognition in the Persons Case," says Cormack. "They demonstrated the kind of commitment to the public good that is sorely lacking in our leaders today."
The Persons Case was launched by five women in 1928 after the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously decided that women were not "persons" under law and, therefore, were ineligible to hold public office as Canadian Senators.
The five women - now known as the "Famous Five" - appealed the decision to the British Privy Council, which at the time was the highest court in the Commonwealth. In 1929, the Privy Council reversed the Supreme Court decision, calling the exclusion of women from public office "a relic of days more hazardous than ours."
Cormack says the Persons Case was a great victory for women and Canadian society in general, adding that the women involved - including Albertans Henrietta Muir Edwards, Mary Parlby, Emily Murphy and Louise McKinney - were role models that politicians today should pattern themselves on.
"They started out fighting for women's rights and that always remained their focus," says Cormack. "They also committed themselves to the struggle for public health care, quality education, workplace safety and decent wages. The same things that we continue to fight for today."
Persons Day comes on the heels of the World March of Women 2000 in which women from over 154 countries marched, rallied and lobbied around the issues of violence against women and the eradication of poverty. "To see 50,000 women on Parliament Hill on a Sunday afternoon cannot be ignored. The determination and resilience of the "Famous Five" is alive and well thirty years after the monumental case. It's time the federal and provincial leaders stop speaking in circles when it comes to issues affecting women," says Cormack.
"Through their efforts Canada became a better, more caring place. In our current era of privatization and bottom-line politics, we need people like McKinney, Murphy and the others more than ever. I urge all of our leaders to consider the example set by the Persons Case. I urge them to embrace the progressive spirit and the political will of the 'Famous Five'," says Cormack.
For more information call:
Audrey M. Cormack, President @ 499-6530 (cell) or 428-9367 (hm)