Claire Kirkland-Casgrain 1924-2016

Written by  //  April 2, 2016  //  Québec  //  No comments

claire-kirkland-casgrain-in-1972-mac-juster-montreal-starClaire Kirkland-Casgrain remembered as female pioneer
Saturday’s service marks the 1st national funeral for a woman in Quebec
The first woman elected to Quebec’s National Assembly, Claire Kirkland-Casgrain, was remembered today as a “pioneer” and a “superwoman” during her national funeral in Montreal.
Quebec politicians from all levels of government joined friends and family on Saturday morning for the ceremony at the downtown Mary Queen of the World Cathedral. It was the first national funeral for a woman in Quebec — but only the latest in a string of firsts for the former politician.
“She really shattered for us, women, several glass ceilings. The first of which was to be the first women elected to the National Assembly,” said Pauline Marois, who broke a glass ceiling of her own when she was elected Quebec’s first female premier in 2012.
In 1961, Kirkland-Casgrain became the first woman in Quebec to be elected to the province’s National Assembly, then known as the Legislative Assembly.
She was also Quebec’s first female cabinet minister, and played a leading role in the Quiet Revolution, a period of widespread social reform.
“She was part of the government that modernized Quebec,” her daughter, Lynne Casgrain, said in her eulogy. “I am proud that my mother participated in the Quiet Revolution.”
In his eulogy, Premier Philippe Couillard highlighted Kirkland-Casgrain’s contribution to Quebec politics by noting there are currently 34 female MNAs, 11 female cabinet ministers and more than 2,300 female municipal councillors and mayors in the province.
Lynne Casgrain said that in spite of her mother’s devotion to politics, she spent as much time at home as possible. “She would cook small meals for the week on Sunday,” she said. “She was a superwoman.”
​Kirkland-Casgrain left politics in 1973 to become a judge and was the first woman appointed to Quebec’s provincial court. She retired in 1991.
She died March 24 at the age of 91.
Along with Couillard, other notable politicians in attendance were former premier Pauline Marois — Quebec’s first female premier — and federal Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion.
Former premier Jean Charest described ​Kirkland-Casgrain’s career as courageous, especially given the social attitudes at the time.
Quebec state funeral another first for trailblazer Claire Kirkland-Casgrain
Claire Kirkland-Casgrain, the first woman elected to Quebec’s National Assembly, first named to its cabinet, and first female provincial judge achieved another first on Saturday, when she became the first woman to receive a state funeral from the province.
She once said that a 1964 bill awarding married women the power to open bank accounts or sign leases without their husbands’ consent was her greatest achievement.
In 1973, she became Quebec’s first female judge, and served until retirement in 1991.
Claire Kirkland Casgrain with Rene Levesque Robert Bourassa and Pierre Peladeau
Claire Kirkland-Casgrain: Un monument
Fatima Houda-Pepin
(Journal de Montréal) Claire Kirkland-Casgrain, la femme des premières, a eu droit à des funérailles nationales, bien méritées. Il y a 55 ans, quand elle a fait l’histoire en devenant la première députée élue à l’Assemblée législative du Québec, la question qu’on se posait dans les chaumières était de savoir si elle allait «porter le chapeau».
Saint Paul, l’Apôtre des gentils, écrit dans son Épître aux Corinthiens que les chrétiennes doivent porter le voile en signe de leur subordination à l’homme. Claire n’a pas porté de chapeau. …
Lorsque Claire Kirkland-Casgrain est entrée au Parlement, l’édifice de l’institution ne possédait pas de toilettes pour femmes. Comme les députés siégeaient, par périodes, jour et nuit, elle n’avait pas non plus accès au bar où ses collègues masculins prenaient un coup entre deux interventions en Chambre, à la porte du Salon bleu. Elle devait tout faire par elle-même, n’ayant pas de secrétaire.
Néanmoins, durant les années où elle a assumé des responsabilités ministérielles, et même dans l’opposition, Claire Kirkland-Casgrain a laissé une empreinte durable: ses réalisations ont marqué le Québec. En tant qu’avocate et militante libérale pour les droits de la personne, elle était déjà sensibilisée à la discrimination dont les femmes faisaient l’objet.
En effet, s’il est aujourd’hui tout à fait normal qu’une femme puisse ouvrir un compte de banque en son nom et signer des contrats ou des documents à caractère juridique, il n’en a pas toujours été ainsi. Jusqu’au milieu des années 1960, le Code civil du Bas-Canada plaçait les femmes mariées sous tutelle, au même titre que les mineurs.
24 March
transport-minister-claire-kirkland-casgrain-with-premier-jean LesageClaire Kirkland-Casgrain, Quebec feminist pioneer, dead at 91
The 1st woman elected to the National Assembly served under Liberal premiers Jean Lesage and Robert Bourassa
The first woman elected to the Legislative Assembly of Quebec and first female judge in Quebec, Claire Kirkland-Casgrain, has died. She was 91 years old.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard expressed his sadness for the loss and said Kirkland-Casgrain will be given special honours during her funeral.
“Ms. Kirkland-Casgrain showed great commitment to Quebec politics and law, as well furthering gender equality in the province,” Couillard said.
“I would like to extend my sympathies to the family on behalf of Quebec.”
Born in Palmer, Massachusetts, Kirkland-Casgrain attended McGill University for both her undergraduate degree and her law degree.
She was elected to Quebec’s National Assembly – then known as the Legislative Assembly – in a byelection in 1961, replacing her father after his death in the riding of Jacques-Cartier.
Her historic win came more than 20 years after Quebec women received the right to vote in 1940. She would remain the only woman to sit in the legislature until her departure from politics in 1973.
Claire Kirkland-Casgrain, Quebec’s first female legislator, dies at 91
Born Marie-Claire Kirkland on Sept. 8, 1924 in Palmer, Mass., she got a law degree from McGill University and worked as a lawyer in Montreal as of 1952. The daughter of a member of the assembly, she was an activist within the Quebec Liberal Party in different roles, notably as head of the Fédération des femmes libérales du Québec.
In 1961, her father, Liberal legislator Charles-Aimé Kirkland, who had served since 1939, died suddenly. Even though no woman had ever served on the assembly in Quebec, she offered her services to finish his mandate. On Dec. 14, 1961, at age 37, she was elected with a strong majority. She was re-elected in the Jacques-Cartier riding in the 1962 general election, and then in the Marguerite-Bourgeoys riding in 1966 and 1970.
In the Jean Lesage government, she was named a minister without a portfolio within a year of being elected. Later, under Lesage and Robert Bourassa, she headed different ministries: transport and communications, tourism, hunting and fishing, and cultural affairs.
Kirkland-Casgrain also passed laws that changed the lives of women. Bill 16 gave women legal rights, such as the right to sign a cheque or a lease without the authorization of her husband. In 1997, she told the Gazette des femmes that of all the things in her career, “it’s what I’m most proud of.”
A few years before the law passed, the newly minted member of the legislature wanted to rent an apartment in Quebec City and was told by the owner he needed her husband’s signature.
Claire Kirkland married lawyer Philippe Casgrain in 1954. She also modernized marriage laws and created the Conseil du statut de la femme in 1973.

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