Thérèse Forget Casgrain
|Thérèse Forget, 1914|
|Senator for Mille Isles, Quebec|
October 7, 1970 – July 10, 1971
|Appointed by||Pierre Trudeau|
|Preceded by||Gustave Monette|
|Succeeded by||Renaude Lapointe|
July 10, 1896|
|Died||November 3, 1981(aged 85)|
|Political party||New Democratic Party|
|Relations||Rodolphe Forget, father|
Life and career
Born in Montreal, Quebec, she was raised in a wealthy family, the daughter of Lady Blanche MacDonald and Sir Rodolphe Forget. She married Pierre-François Casgrain, a wealthy Liberal politician with whom she raised four children.
Casgrain led the women's suffrage movement in Quebec prior to World War II. She founded the Provincial Franchise Committee in 1921 and campaigned for women's rights and for the right to vote in Quebec elections, a right that was not won until 1940. From 1928 to 1942, she was the leader of the League for Women's Rights. In the 1930s, she hosted a popular radio show Fémina.
In the 1942 federal by-election, she stood as an "Independent Liberal" candidate in the Charlevoix-Saguenay riding, the same seat formerly held both by her father and by her husband.
Following World War II, she left the Liberal Party and joined the social democratic Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). In 1948, she became one of the federal vice presidents of the CCF. She led the Quebec wing of the party, the Parti social démocratique du Québec, from 1951 to 1957. She was therefore the first female leader of a political party in Canada. She was a CCF candidate in a 1952 federal by-election and in the 1953, 1957 and 1958 federal general elections and a New Democratic Party candidate in the 1962 and 1963 federal general elections. She also used her position as a platform to campaign against the government of Maurice Duplessis.
In the 1960s, she became a campaigner against nuclear weapons, founding the Quebec wing of Voice of Women. She also was a founder of the League for Human Rights and the Fédération des femmes du Québec. In the 1960s, she was president of the Quebec wing of the New Democratic Party, the CCF's successor.
In 1967, she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, and in 1974, she was promoted to Companion. She died in 1981. Thérèse Casgrain's body is interred in the Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges in Montreal.
In recognition of her achievements, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau appointed Casgrain to the Canadian Senate in 1970, where she sat as an independent for nine months before reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75.
In 1982, the Thérèse Casgrain Volunteer Award, was created in 1982 by the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau. It was discontinued in 1990 under the Conservative ministry of Brian Mulroney, but was begun anew in 2001 under the Liberal ministry of Jean Chrétien. In 2010, during the Conservative ministry of Stephen Harper, the award was eliminated and then repackaged as the "Prime Minister's Volunteer Award".
In 1985, Canada Post honoured Thérèse Casgrain with a postage stamp. She also was commemorated in 2004 on the back of the new Canadian $50 bill along with The Famous Five. This commemoration was discontinued in 2012 with the introduction of a new design on the reverse of the fifty-dollar bill.
- KALBFLEISCH, JOHN (4 September 2012). "Quebec, 1944: Finally, women are allowed to vote". The Gazette. Archived from the original on 4 September 2012.
- Beeby, Dean (27 July 2014), "Thérèse Casgrain removed from public history", Surrey Leader (Canadian Press), retrieved 27 July 2014
- Office of the Governor General of Canada. Order of Canada citation. Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 26 May 2010
- Thérèse Casgrain – Parliament of Canada biography