This year we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the expansion of the electoral franchise to women in Nova Scotia.
The expansion of the vote to women may have been granted 100 years ago, but it was the result of many years of legislative efforts dating back to 1891.
In his opposition to a bill in 1893 to expand the vote to women, James Wilberforce Longley, Nova Scotia’s Attorney General at the time, spoke about the “sanctity of separate spheres whereby women should be protected from the baseness of politics.”
In response to his comments a letter to the editor of the Halifax Herald summed up perfectly the view of many women at that time. The letter stated:
With due respect to Mr. Longley for his chivalrous desire to save us from self-destruction, we will take the risk of the strain upon our delicate “moral fibre” of depositing a ballot once in four years. Mr. Longley’s high-flown rhetoric to the contrary, it is ballots not “personal charms” that count with politicians.
Leaders in Nova Scotia, both women and men, have worked hard to improve opportunities for women in my province. Women have come a long way since Confederation when they couldn’t vote, but there is still much to be done. It was refreshing to see after the federal election of 2015 that 50 per cent of the Federal Cabinet was comprised of women. This is a great step in the right direction.