“It may seem like an innocuous change, but it is a symbol of a pattern of assault on women’s issues by the Harper government,” said NAPE President Carol Furlong. “The battle that these women fought to have women recognized under the law as people is a crucial part of our country’s history. The decision to remove a reference to these women, their struggle and their historic accomplishment from the new 50 dollar bill should be reversed.”

In the 1920’s, five Canadian women, now known as the Famous Five, sought to have women appointed to the Canadian Senate, but were denied by the Supreme Court of Canada on the grounds that women did not qualify as ‘persons’ under Section 24 of the British North America Act of 1867. The group appealed that decision and eventually won a ruling from the Judicial Committee of the British Privy Council that women were indeed ‘persons’ under the law in 1929. The ruling was one of the most important milestones in the history of women’s struggle for equality in Canada’s history.

“It is more than simply removing a picture on a fifty dollar bill, the message is: That’s old news, we’ve achieved equality in this country. Let’s move on,” stated Furlong. “At a time when women make 70 cents to the dollar that men make for equal work, I can definitively say to the Harper government that we have not reached equality yet.”

The five women currently featured on the 50 dollar bill, who will be removed on the new bill, are:

  • Emily Murphy – the British Empire’s first female judge;
  • Irene Marryat Parlby – first female Cabinet minister in Alberta;
  • Nellie Mooney McClung – leader in the suffragette movement;
  • Louise Crummy McKinney – the first woman elected to any legislature in Canada or the British Empire; and
  • Henrietta Muir Edwards – founding member of the Victorian Order of Nurses.

“We want women leaders today as never before. Leaders who are not afraid to be called names and who are willing to go out and fight. I think women can save civilization. Women are persons.”
– Emily Murphy, 1931

For further information please contact:
Keith Dunne, NAPE Campaigns and Communications Coordinator
(phone) 709.570.2501 (e-mail) kdunne@nape.nf.ca