March 8, 1955

L844 HOUSE OF COMMONS


Business of the House


?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

Mr. Speaker, I am astonished at my hon. friend making such a suggestion, because it was not by any request of the government that they took away private members' day a week ago. It was at the request of all the opposition groups. If all opposition groups feel they can give up their last and final private members' day for this session, and they so advise me at the moment, I shall be glad to consider their request.

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CCF

Angus MacInnis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Maclnnis:

May I suggest that it is not necessary to make a decision on whether we

are ready to give up the last private members' day. All we have to do is be ready to give up tomorrow, and let the other private members' day after that take care of itself.

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LIB

Walter Edward Harris (Minister of Finance and Receiver General; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. Harris:

I quite realize that. I know that no agreement is necessary, but I do want it understood that the motion on the order paper under which a week from Wednesday will be a day for government business will not be postponed because we happen to take tomorrow for government business.

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At ten o'clock the house adjourned, without question put, pursuant to standing order.


APPENDIX

AGNES CAMPBELL MACPHAIL

LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Distinguished guests, Mr. Prime Minister, honourable Senators, honourable members of the House of Commons, ladies and gentlemen: It was my pleasure a few days ago to announce that on this date, the 8th of March, 1955, would take place the unveiling of the Macphail memorial. Thirty-three years ago, on the 8th of March, 1922, the first Canadian woman elected to our House of Commons took the oath, signed the roll and then claimed the right to take her seat. She was Agnes Campbell Macphail, M.P. This was an historical event of the greatest importance to men and women of Canada.

Miss Macphail's election had followed, as soon as had been possible, the granting of the franchise to Canadian women in federal elections. Although she served a few years in the legislature of her province she spent most of her public life in our own House of Commons, for which we are thankful.

It is worthy of note that while we recall the presence in our midst 33 years ago of only one woman, five women senators and four women members of the House of Commons are witnessing the present memorable event.

Having opened the way, and having during her many years of public service contributed so largely and so effectively to the welfare of the nation, it is proper and fitting for us to recognize that she has well deserved the rare distinction of having a memorial unveiled in her honour in this parliament.

(Translation) :

In paying tribute to the first woman- elected to the House of Commons of Canada, we wish to emphasize a particular contribution to our political life and to honour women, whose role in the life of a nation is of incalculable importance.

Throughout her long parliamentary career, Miss Macphail had striven to promote economic and social progress and showed particular interest in two classes of people to whom we are greatly attached: farmers and the working class.

French-speaking parliamentarians are happy to pay her this tribute. On their behalf I am pleased to accept this bronze bust of Miss Macphail, graciously offered by her two 50433-117

sisters and their husbands, who are with us today: Mr. and Mrs. Meredith Reany and Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Bailey.

(Text):

I am happy indeed to accept here, officially, the bronze bust of Agnes Macphail, graciously donated by her two sisters, Mrs. Meredith Reany and Mrs. Hugh Bailey. On behalf of parliament I wish to thank them both and express our satisfaction that they can be with us, accompanied by their distinguished husbands.

May I add that this bust is the work of the sculptor, Felix Weihs de Weldon, a longstanding member of the commission of fine arts of the United States. I wish to thank him also for the donation of a silver plaque which will be affixed to the pedestal, and which will serve to remind us and others who are to follow of the great achievements of Agnes Macphail.

Those of us who have been her colleagues are best qualified to pay her tribute on this occasion. I now call upon four members, deans of their parties, the Hon. C. G. Power, the Hon. Earl Rowe, the hon. member for Vancouver-Kingsway, Mr. Angus Maclnnis, and the hon. member for Lethbridge, Mr. John Blackmore.

Topic:   APPENDIX
Subtopic:   AGNES CAMPBELL MACPHAIL
Sub-subtopic:   TRIBUTE AT UNVEILING OF MEMORIAL
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power

Liberal

Hon. C. G. Power (Quebec South):

Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentlemen: It is indeed an honour to participate in this ceremony of tribute to an outstanding parliamentarian, Miss Agnes Campbell Macphail, the first woman member of the House of Commons of Canada.

The very fact that Miss Macphail was the first representative of her sex to sit in this chamber would have placed her in the public eye, irrespective of her personal qualities. But her unique position alone does not explain the respect she won and the influence she played in Canada's national life. Personal qualities of intelligence, courage and unselfish industry were the real factors in her rise to prominence.

At the outset the position of Miss Macphail was difficult indeed. She was at once breaking a tradition and, at the same time, pioneering an advance in the political mores of a nation. Sensational headlines were anticipated: her native dignity precluded the roles of the shrinking violet, the flapper hoyden or the crusading virago.

(Text):

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Subtopic:   AGNES CAMPBELL MACPHAIL
Sub-subtopic:   TRIBUTE AT UNVEILING OF MEMORIAL
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PC

William Earl Rowe

Progressive Conservative

Hon. W. Earl Rowe (Dufferin-Simcoe):

Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate and House of Commons, relatives and friends of the late Agnes Macphail: It is a privilege for me, as one who sat in parliament with Miss Macphail, to express on behalf of Her Majesty's loyal opposition our respectful memory of a sincere and devoted public servant.

Elected in the general election of 1921 to represent the constituency of Grey Southeast, she was the first woman member of the Canadian House of Commons, and she will always hold a unique place in the parliamentary life of our country. As a fearless champion of the political rights of women she will forever be held in distinctive regard by all who read the history of this dominion. In the forum of parliamentary debate she had the flare and the wit that enabled her in the heat of battle to rank with the foremost debaters of her time.

I feel that my own association with Agnes Macphail was probably a little different from most because of the fact that we came from the same part of Ontario and, for a time, represented adjoining constituencies. As was only natural, she was well known in the county I represent, and her sparkling wit on the hustings is still remembered and quoted throughout that district. After leaving this house she entered the provincial legislature of Ontario, where she served her country in the same fearless and conscientious manner.

Not only for her contribution to parliamentary tradition will Agnes Macphail be remembered, but also for her contributions to the deliberations of the various associations and societies to which she lent her support. While she often doubted the wisdom of those charged with the responsibility of government, she never faltered in allegiance to principles that she believed would serve her fellow men and particularly the rural communities with which she was always proud to be associated.

It is fitting and appropriate that today we should do homage to this outstanding representative of Canadian women whose name will long be remembered in the halls of parliament as well as in the homes of the countryside.

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Subtopic:   AGNES CAMPBELL MACPHAIL
Sub-subtopic:   TRIBUTE AT UNVEILING OF MEMORIAL
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CCF

Angus MacInnis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. Angus Maclnnis (Vancouver-Kingsway):

Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate, members of the House of Commons, relatives and friends of Agnes Macphail: I consider it a distinct privilege to have the opportunity today of taking part in this ceremony. It was my good fortune to know and work with

Agnes Macphail for a period of more than 20 years, for 10 years in this house and for more than 10 years outside this house.

Although Agnes Macphail was the first woman member elected to this house, I am convinced that she was not elected because she was a woman. I am glad this is the case. I am certain that the hard-headed and practical farmers of Grey county had no such romantic or chivalrous ideas in mind when they elected Miss Macphail to parliament. They elected her because she was interested in and understood their problems. They knew she would devote her energies to trying to find a solution to those problems, and they were not disappointed.

Agnes Macphail was not, however, a person with only one interest, important as that interest was and, perhaps, claimed her first attention. She was a person of warm human sympathies. She was anxious that everyone should have the opportunity to make the best of his or her life. In this house she pleaded for better social services, pensions for the aged, the blind and the disabled, and for a greater interest in education. More than anyone else in the house at that time, and indeed perhaps more than anyone else in the country, she was responsible for the appointment of the Archambault commission on penal reform. Consequently she was responsible for the beneficial results which have flowed from the recommendations of that commission.

Her wide human sympathy was never better illustrated than during her first term in parliament when, although she was representing farmers in Ontario she made a visit to Cape Breton to look into the plight of the coal miners and their families who were suffering intensely in the Glace Bay area, at a time when that subject was being aired in this house.

As has already been said, Agnes Macphail was an able parliamentarian. When she spoke she was always given the attention of this house, not because she was a woman and the male members were anxious to be on their good behaviour, but because she always had something worth while to say and she said it in a striking manner.

I am glad today on behalf of the group with which I am associated in this house to have the opportunity of paying tribute to one who will always be remembered not only as the first woman member of this house but as a great humanitarian and an outstanding Canadian.

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Subtopic:   AGNES CAMPBELL MACPHAIL
Sub-subtopic:   TRIBUTE AT UNVEILING OF MEMORIAL
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SC

John Horne Blackmore

Social Credit

Mr. J. H. Blackmore (Lethbridge):

Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate, members of the House of Commons and relatives of 50433-1171

Memorial to Miss Macphail Miss Macphail who are present here today: It gives me much pleasure to have this opportunity of saying a few words in appreciation of Miss Macphail. When in 1936 I first came into the House of Commons I found Miss Macphail, already a thoroughly seasoned member completely at home and at ease, respected by every member, and by many members fondly spoken of and spoken to as "Aggie".

Through the years of her service in the house she had come to be a frontbencher in her own right, sitting immediately to the left of the C.C.F. group led by that great parliamentary battler, J. S. Woodsworth, whom she evidently greatly admired, encouraged, and often coached in relation to his strenuous, frequent and various clashes with governmental personalities from Mr. Speaker down. Obviously her judgment was respected by Mr. Woodsworth; her suggestions were by him welcomed and frequently acted upon.

I was the better able to observe since I, having been chosen leader of the 17-member Social Credit group, was, of course, a frontbencher from the opening day of my House of Commons career; and. because of the seating position of Miss Macphail, I was assigned to sit beside her, just at her left.

It was one of the great pieces of good fortune in my life that I was thus brought into close proximity with Miss Macphail. From her I learned many, many things I needed to know as a member of parliament and as leader of the Social Credit group. She was tolerant, courteous, tactful, sympathetic, understanding, humble, sincere and frank. She was unusually well informed. She was a reformer, and a progressive through and through.

As a parliamentary debater she was highly effective and active. She had a strong and not unpleasant voice, and clear positive delivery, vitalized with strong conviction. Her choice of words and phrases was apt and ready. She was at the same time witty and quickwitted. She was a master of repartee.

Miss Macphail spoke extemporaneously and always briefly. Practically everyone enjoyed hearing her speak. Hardly a speech of hers failed to receive ample and wide publicity in the press. Out in the country she was much in demand as a speaker, not only in Canada but also in the United States.

As I said at the beginning, I am delighted to have the privilege of aiding in honouring Miss Macphail.

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Subtopic:   AGNES CAMPBELL MACPHAIL
Sub-subtopic:   TRIBUTE AT UNVEILING OF MEMORIAL
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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Mrs. Meredith Reany, sister of Miss Macphail, will now speak to us on behalf of her distinguished family.

Memorial to Miss Macphail

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Mrs. Meredilh Reany@

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen: On behalf of our sister, the late Agnes C. Macphail and her family, I should like to say thank you to all those responsible for the placing of this bust in the parliament buildings at Ottawa.

Today, as our thoughts go with her back through the years, I feel sure she would be very happy to know she was being remembered by the people of the country she loved and served throughout the greater part of her lifetime on this earth.

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Subtopic:   AGNES CAMPBELL MACPHAIL
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LIB

Louis-René Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

In thanking you and in bringing our remarks to a close, I am reminded

that Lady Astor, who was the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, once said:

I can conceive of nothing worse than a man-governed world except, perhaps, a woman-governed world.

But I can see the combination of the two going forward and making civilization more worthy of the name of civilization based on Christianity, not force, a civilization based on justice and mercy.

I invite you now to proceed to the northwest corridor where Mrs. Reany and Mrs. Bailey will officially unveil the memorial in honour of their sister, the first woman member of this house, the late Agnes Campbell Macphail, whose ideals were also based on justice, mercy and Christianity.

Wednesday, March 9, 1955

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Subtopic:   AGNES CAMPBELL MACPHAIL
Sub-subtopic:   TRIBUTE AT UNVEILING OF MEMORIAL
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March 8, 1955