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The Mock Parliament

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Reading: "The Play"

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Nellie McClung was a speaker much in demand. She spoke before women's groups, temperance groups, literary groups, and churches. Articulate and passionate, McClung addressed family life, women's roles, women's rights, prohibition, nation-building, and female suffrage. Using her often comic sense of timing and an uncanny ability to mimic, McClung's involvement with the Mock Parliament is the most well-known—and perhaps effective—occasion on which she put these skills to good use.

Advertisement for public speech by Nellie McClung in Fort Macleod. Image Courtesy of BC Archives - Call Number: E-06014In 1914, the Political Equality League scheduled a women's parliament to parody Manitoba's stand against women's right to vote. The gathering had a twist: the women who enacted the parliament refused the vote and the right to earnings or joint guardianship of children to men, all rights that were not held by women at the time. The audience, including Opposition politicians from the Manitoba legislature, laughed at McClung's first statement: " any civilization which has produced such noble man as I see here before me is good enough for me...."

At the end of that Manitoba evening, McClung and her colleagues had captivated their audience so completely that the newspaper covered the story on their first pages. The combination of the Mock Parliament within the wider context of the suffrage movement culminated in Manitoba women winning the vote on January 28, 1916, followed by Saskatchewan on March 14, 1916 and Alberta April 19, 1916. Many other Canadian provinces soon followed the Western lead.   

 
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