Opening Notes

Opening Notes

Tanya Davies October 18 1999
Opening Notes

Opening Notes

Tanya Davies October 18 1999

Opening Notes

Tanya Davies

Prominent ‘persons’

They challenged the status quo in a way that reverberates to this day. Five Alberta women, each accomplished in her own field, came together in the 1920s to vent their outrage over the fact that a woman could not be appointed to the Canadian Senate because the British North America Act,

Canadas Constitution at the time, did not recognize women as “persons.” The so-called Famous Five—Nellie McClung, Emily Murphy, Irene Parlby, Henrietta Muir Edwards and Louise McKinney—successfully appealed that interpretation to the British Privy Council, which declared that “the exclusion of women from all public offices is a relic of days more barbarous than ours.”

On Oct. 18—the 70th anniversary of the landmark Persons Case ruling—a large bronze statue of

the Famous Five will be unveiled at Calgary’s Olympic Plaza. Exacdy one year later, an identical monument will appear on Parliament Hill. To underwrite the $1-million cost of erecting and maintaining the statues, Frances Wright, president of the Calgary-based Famous 5 Foundation, sought out five prominent Canadian women willing to donate $200,000 each. The benefactors: Senator Vivienne Poy, a successful fashion designer and sister-in-law of Governor General Adrienne Clarkson; Heather Reisman, president of Indigo Books & Music Inc.; Toronto-based financier Kiki Delaney; Maria Eriksen, owner of a Calgary corporate psychology firm, who donated

along with her sister-in-law, author Ayala Manolson; and former University of Calgary chancellor Ann McCaig, who contributed along with her daughters, Roxanne and Jane.

Wright says she approached women who not only had deep pockets, but who could articulate why they had been moved by the Famous Five. Last week, they started to do just that. “These women blazed the trail,” McCaig told Macleans. Reisman observed that it is a chance to reflect on how far women have come. “I’m sure the younger generation can’t imagine a time when women weren’t considered people,” she says. “It’s so inconsistent with current realities.”

Welcoming the 51 st state

Presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan has come under fire for arguing in his new book, A Republic, Not an Empire, that Hitler posed no threat to the United States and Washington should have stayed out of the Second World War. Buchanan is suspicious of all foreign entanglements, and urges Americans to

watch out for their own national interests first. Still, he rolls out a welcome mat for e any Canadian province that wants to join the Great Republic. He writes: “America has been the most fortunate of nations in its geography. Neither Canada nor Mexico has been a security concern in this century. That is changing. In the new century, Quebec may declare independence, and the Maritime and western provinces could separate from Ottawa. Americans

may profoundly regret a breakup of Canada, but we are not a disinterested party. Should it come apart, the United States should offer trade agreements to each successor state, and statehood itself, should any breakaway Canadian province wish it.” There is about zero chance, though, that Buchanan will make it to the White House and be in a position to extend the invitation. He is on the verge of leaving the Republican party and seeking the nomination of the U.S. Reform party—the fast track to political oblivion.

A dime for the donation meter

Soon, shoppers in Burnaby, B.C., won’t have to feel guilty or look away when a beggar asks for money— thanks to a city council decision last week to install “panhandling meters” in the Burnaby Heights business district, a suburb of Vancouver. “I gave at the meter” is the response council members hope shoppers will give to panhandlers when asked for loose change. A city coun-

The two pilot change machines— specially painted parking meters—will be installed by the end of the year as part of a community campaign to discourage vagrancy and begging. According to the city report, until recently, there were eight “regular” panhandlers working the Burnaby strip. Until the meters are in place, local businesses are handing out cards telling the public to “stop giving

cil report states the money will go to food banks, homeless shelters and local charities.

money to panhandlers—and stop feeling guilty about it. Your loose change only feeds their addiction.”

The idea for the automated beggars was borrowed from Kamloops, B.C., which installed six meters last year. Proceeds from the Kamloops meters have been “modest,” says a police report. But that hasn’t stopped the Burnaby city council. “We’re not saying this is something that is going to eradicate panhandling,” says John Foster, senior social planner for the city. “But, it is worth a try.”