[Narrator] In 1914, women in Manitoba were eager to win the right to vote. They decided that humour was their best weapon in the fight for equality with men.
[Performers] Come out the night of crime has fled—
Day is begun;
Here is no criminal to dread—
Only your son.
The world, half yours, demands your care...
[E. Cora Hind] Ready for our pretend debate, ladies?
[Nellie McClung] Let's show them what things would be like if women had all the power!
[Francis Graham] Well, be careful "Madame Premier."
As the speaker of this parliament, I might just rule you out of order.
[Nellie McClung] Let's go!
[Clapping and cheering]
[Nellie McClung] Now, do remember...
For the next hour or so, women have all the rights and men have none.
[Francis Graham] I now call upon the member representing the society for the prevention of ugliness.
[E. Cora Hind] We wish to make it law that no man wearing a scarlet necktie, a six-inch collar or squeaky shoes may enter any public building whatsoever.
[Lillian Beynon Thomas] We believe that men have it very hard and deserve help in their work.
That's why we propose labour-saving devices for them.
[Genevieve Lipsett-Skinner] My dear lady, if these men start working less they will begin educating themselves.
And the next thing you know, they'll want to vote!
[Cora/Lillian] Ugh! Unthinkable!
[Men Chanting] Votes for men!
Votes for men!
Votes for men!
Votes for men!
[Francis Graham] What a pleasure to have your presence today, gentlemen.
Allow me to compliment you on your splendid appearance.
You all look very fine.
[Man 1] We demand our rights!
[Man 2] We have the brains. Why not let us vote?
[Nellie McClung] Why on earth would you wish to fill your heads with heavy political matters—when you have homes and children to care for?
Any system of civilization that can produce such splendid specimens of manhood is good enough for me, and if it is good enough for me it is good enough for anybody.
[Nellie McClung] Such a system of affairs should simply not be interfered with.
Indeed, if all men were as intelligent as you, perhaps the vote for your kind would be possible.
But sadly, that is not the case.
[Cora/Lillian] No votes for men! No votes for men!
[Audience] No votes for men! No votes for men!
[Francis/Nellie] No votes for men!
[The next day]
[Rodmond Roblin] What in blazes?
How dare they!
That Nellie McClung is a hyena in petticoats!
So long as I am in charge, women shall never have the right to vote!
Their sacred duties are at home!
[Rodmond Roblin] Huh? Grrr...
[Narrator] The mock parliament was such a hit that Nellie McClung and the others performed it again in Winnipeg and then in Brandon, Manitoba.
Audiences loved the clever show, which made it clear how ridiculous it was that women couldn't vote.
The next year, the Liberal party under leader Tobias Norris defeated Roblin's Conservative government—largely thanks to the suffragists. And in 1916, Manitoba became the first province in Canada to give women the right to vote and to run for public office.
Skip social share links