Honorary Degree Citation - Thérèse Casgrain*

by Mair Verthuy, June 1980

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Senator Thérèse Casgrain, a distinguished and tireless fighter against social injustice whose name has over the years become synonymous with the cause not only of the advancement of women but also of the promotion of all human rights.

Senator Casgrain's achievements are so numerous that one cannot here do justice to them all. Perhaps I may remind you of a few. It was under her leadership that in 1940 Québec women obtained the right to vote, and thanks to her efforts that family allowance cheques were made out in the mother's name in Québec. She was a founding member of the Voice of Women as well as of La Fédération des Femmes du Québec, one of the first women's organizations here to cut across linguistic and religious barriers. She was Vice-President for Eastern Canada of the CCF and a founding member of the NDP. Senator Casgrain was also the first woman to run for election in Québec.

Indeed, I should like here to express my gratitude to all those who so often refused, because she was a woman, to elect her to parliament, as, in this manner, they enabled her, albeit unwittingly, to engage with much greater freedom in the significant social struggles that characterize her career. Sometimes the greatest victories are on outside the House.

A brief anecdote, if I may, because to me it typifies Senator Casgrain. When she and her colleagues were engaged in the suffrage movement, they regularly sent Premier Taschereau a bouquet of roses for his birthday. On one occasion he called to thank her for the lovely flowers and she responded: "Never forget, Mr. Premier, that roses also have thorns". As he and others have discovered.

Mr Chancellor, it is a privilege to present to you, on behalf of the Senate and by the authority of the Board of Governors, Senator Thérèse Casgrain, that you may confer on her the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

* deceased