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Agnes Macphail (1890 – 1954)

Agnes Macphail (1890 – 1954)
Agnes Macphail was a progressive, thoughtful leader and feminist at a time when the world was run only by men. She was the first woman elected to Canada’s House of Commons in Ottawa in 1921, during the very first federal election in which women were allowed to vote or run for government office. She was re-elected in the 1925, 1926, and 1930 federal elections.
  • Macphail fought some tough battles to change laws that effected prison reform, the reduction of the military and weapons, Canada’s cooperation with other countries, and old age pensions.
  • She was the first president of the Ontario CCF (which came before the NDP party) in 1932. In 1939 she founded the Elizabeth Fry Society of Canada, a group working with and for women in the justice system.
  • Macphail was the first woman appointed as a member of a Canadian delegation to the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland — a United Nations-like organization established after WWI — where she was an active member of the World Disarmament Committee.
  • Macphail was one of the first two women to be elected to the Ontario Legislative Assembly in 1944.
  • Macphail was responsible for Ontario's first equal-pay legislation in 1951.
  • She worked for two separate parties and promoted her ideas through column-writing, activist organizing, and legislation
  • Macphail died at 63, just before she was offered an appointment in the Canadian Senate. 
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