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Interview with Tom Wilson

Heritage Community Foundation, Albertasource.ca and The Famous Five Foundation
 
         

Tom Wilson, 1913 MLA for Rocky Mountain House, personal interview, 1967.

[In 1913] The Edmonton Political Equality League organized a meeting with [Premier] Sifton. They came down to the Legislature and there must have been 150 or 200 women. They gave a spiel, both Nellie [McClung] and Janey [Emily Murphy] spoke because they were both good speakers, but Sifton wouldn't let them go up the front steps to the Legislature. He stood on the second step and kept them standing around the well in the approach and he said to them, "did you ladies wash up your luncheon dishes before you came down here to ask me for votes?" He said, "if you haven't you'd better go home because you're not going to get any votes from me." He was most ungentlemanly. So the next session of the legislature was in February [1914], a regular session, and I suggested to Mrs. Ferris that a better way would be to infiltrate the government so to speak and get possession of the building. So when two or three women appeared I took them in to see the interior of the building, and then two or three others came along casually and the first thing we knew we had the legislative hall filled with women. And they were sitting in the members' seats. Sifton couldn't call the police but he certainly gave them a piece of his mind. Anyway, they had won a point on him.

"One Voice was Raised Against the Bill: Boudreau Courageous" Calgary Morning Albertan (2 Mar. 1916).

During the debate which followed the speech in which [Alberta] Premier Sifton introduced the second reading of the government measure [enacting political rights for women] Lucien Boudreau stepped into a niche of fame alongside his leader. He was the only member of the fifty-six to vote against granting women equality. Mr. Boudreau, fearless champion of a lost cause, sturdily voiced the sentiments which perhaps many of the present legislators felt but lacked the courage to make public. . . . After the session a number of members took the honorable member for St. Albert away in a corner and jointly and severally congratulated him on his courage, whispering that he had expressed their sentiments exactly and they wished they might dare display his courage.

Reprinted by permission of Women's Press.

 
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