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Notes On Emily Murphy

Notes on Emily Murphy ((p. 67)) It was while the first provincial legislatur was sitting that Mrs. Emily Murphy, born in Cookstown, Ontario, in 1868, was educated at Bishop Strachan’s School in Toronto. In 1904 she and her husband moved to Winnipeg where Mrs. Murphy conducted the literary section of the Winnipeg Tribune for a few years before moving to Alberta in 1907. In her new home Mrs.

Murphy came very active in civic affairs, especially in the attainment of las for the betterment of conditions for women and children. On June 13, 1916 she was appointed a police magistrate for the City of Edmonton, the first woman in the British empire to hold such a post. Under the [enname “Janey Canuck,” Mrs. Murphy wrote many books and articles mirroring western life, some of which found their way into both British and American publications. The Rutherford government was framing a law to give women certain dower rights, and Mrs. Murphy disapproved of some of its provisions. Single-handed she went before the (( p.

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68 )) committee on legislation and argued with such success that the bill, when passed, was substantially as she wished. It was on this occasion that Mrs. Murphy, most hapily married to the Reverend Arthur Murphy, received a letter from a grateful but misinformed pioneer woman who wrote:”God bless you, Janey Canuck, I have a troublesome husband too.” ((p. 71)) Not content with vague anticipation of benefits to be conferred in some shadowy future, Mrs. McClung and Mrs.

Murphy joind forces to call upon Sifton on March 2 and ask that a suffrage bill be introduced at that very session. Other cabinet members were also interviewed. The local press account does not reveal how the gentlemen fared at this meeting but the premier’s comment upon its conclusion was simply, “Mrs. McClung and Mrs. Murphy are very determined women.” ((p.

74)) The passage of time and the exercise of political power whetted rather than dulled the appetite of Alberta women. Marshalled by Judge Murphy, five veterans of the suffrage campaing fced the conservative stonghold of the Red Chamber at Ottawa, the Supreme Court of Canada, and even the august Privy Council in London to prove that women are “persons” in the eyes of the law, and consequently entitled to membership in the federal senate. The Alberta government, alone of the nine provinces, loyally supported the women in this eventful struggle, sending its attorney-general, Hon. J. F. Lymburn, to London to assist Hon.

N. W. Rowell in pleading their cause. For the further emancipation which was an outcome of the successful termination of the Persons Case, the women of all Canada owe a debt of gratitude to (( p.75 )) those of this prairie province who wove reality out of a dream of complete political equality. – Sifton government appointed Mrs.

Murphy and Mrs. Jamieson to act as police magistrates. (Jamieson was appointed in December, Murphy in June) – (p. 141) Murphy is fighting to prove that women are “persons” in section 24 British North America Act. “In the minds of most women there never existed much doubt about whether or not they were persons, legal minds found this point highly contentious until that day in Oct. 1929 when Lord Chancellor Sankey, reading the opinion of the highest tribunal in the British empire, concluded that women are “persons” in the eyes of the law and hence entitled to be summoned to the Canadian senate.

– (p. 142) Mrs. Murphy was appointed as police magistrate to preside over the newly created Women’s Court in Edmonton. The first day she was accused (by the defendent) of not being a “person” under the British North America Act and had no right to be holding court anyway. The judge held her peace, relying upon the provincial government to prove, if necessary, that she was a “peron.” – (p.

143) the delegates from all eight of the provinces represented unanimously endorsed a resolution requesting Prime Minister Borden to appoint a woman to the senate. Many other women’s organizations soon followed suit, including the powerful National Council of Women. – (p. 143) In January 1921 the Montreal Women’s Club, under the leadership of Mrs. John Scott, abandoned the vague request for appointment of “a woman” and asked Prime Minister Arthur Meighen point-blank to name Mrs.

Emily Murphy to the senate as soon as there should be a vacancy. Mr. Meighen courteously said no, for the law officers of the Crown had advised him that the nomination of a woman was impossible. Notwithstanding the rebuff, Mrs. Murphy was pleased that she, a westerne, had been singled out as the candidate of a group of easterners. !!!!!!! ***** We women here want you in the Sente because you are a woman and a worthy representative.

In fact, in all of Canada, we feel there is no other to equal Judge Murphy for the appointment.. With very best wishes and trusting it will not be too long before you are notified that you are going to be `laid on the shelf’ with the other Senators, but hoping of course, that you will not be too quiet, I am, Sincerely and affectionately, Gertrude E. Budd. ***** – this letter have been the spark that kindled Mrs. Murphy’s determination to fight the question through to a finish.

!!!!– (p. 144) Over eight years were to pass before her careful strategy and inexhaustible patience triumped over legal technicalities to remove another barrier blocking the political progress of women. – (p. 144) Prime Minister Mr. Meighen felt the pressure of public opinion sufficiently to promise during.


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