S. C. 1918, c. 20 granted Canadian women over the age of 21 the right to vote in federal elections. 1 But this was limited to Euroamerican women and all native peoples were excluded until 19602 when S. C. 1960, c. 39 was enacted. 3 The provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan had already enfranchised women in 1916 but other provinces acted later -- Nova Scotia in 1918, New Brunswick and Ontario in 1919, British Columbia in 1920, Prince Edward Island in 1922, Newfoundland in 1925, and Quebec in 1940. 4 Federal voting rights are now guaranteed by the Constitution Act of 1982 and in Section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. "Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein."
The final clause of section 3 of the Charter provides women with the right to run for and hold public office in federal and provincial legislatures. Although the right to vote had been granted in 1918, women's right to hold public office was still being debated in the provinces of Canada eight years later. Five women brought the question to the Supreme Court of Canada for the determination of whether women were included in the term "persons" under the British North America Act of 1867 and whether or not they were eligible As members to the Senate. 5 The case was then appealed to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in England who overruled the Supreme Court of Canada. The Privy Council held that women are officially persons under the Constitution. 6
As section 3 of the Charter does not apply to the Senate, the same definition has been included in the Constitutional Act, which uses the term "persons" in setting qualifications for senators. 7 The right to participate in municipal elections is also omitted from section 3. 8 The controversy of whether women are included in "persons" could arise in other contexts due to R.S.C. 1970, c. I-23, the Interpretation Act, which states that a woman is included within the definition "unless a contrary intention appears." 9
Canadian women are treated differently from Canadian males under the Citizenship Act. A foreign-born wife of a Canadian male can apply for citizenship after one year, while a female's foreign-born husband must wait five years. 10 Children who are born abroad may also be treated differently depending on which parent is a Canadian citizen. The child of a Canadian father automatically becomes a citizen while a Canadian mother's child does not, unless the mother is divorced or unmarried. 11 A provision in the Immigration