Person Day is an annual celebration which is celebrated in Canada, held on October 18. The day commemorates the case of Edwards v. Canada (Former Attorney General), more commonly known as The Persons Case – a famous Canadian constitutional case decided on October 18, 1929, by the Judicial Committee of the Imperial Privy Council, which at that time was the court of last resort for Canada. The Persons Case held that women were eligible to sit in the Senate of Canada.
While not a civic holiday, several women’s(Female) groups across the country (Canada) make significant note of Persons Day, including The Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund.
The history of the Persons Case
1. In Canada, (BNA Act) the British North America Act of 1867 set out the powers and responsibilities of the provinces and of the federal government.
2. Section 24 of the British North America Act said that only ‘qualified persons’ could be appointed as the Canadian Senate.
A)– According to Section 24 of the British North America Act, “The governor general shall from time to time, in the Queen’s Name, by instrument under the great seal of Canada, summon qualified persons to the Senate; and, subject to the provisions of this act, every person so summoned shall become and be a member of the Senate and a senator.”
3. The Canadian government interpreted this phrase as meaning ‘men only.’ This was based on historical precedent; when the law was written, it had been intended to mean men.
4. The word ‘persons‘ basically referred to more than one person and ‘he’ referred to one person.
5. Therefore, according to this act, women were not eligible for appointment by the Governor-General to the Senate of Canada.