This article was published on June 15, 1933. Read the story in the Maclean’s file.
A hundred years agoOn December 6, 1921, Agnes Macphail became the first woman elected to the House of Commons. This ironic Maclean’s profile, written by Charles Vining under the pseudonym RTL, gives an idea of how he was perceived a dozen years into his political career.
Miss Agnes Macphail was born in a log cabin, but has not yet become Prime Minister.
He spent the first fourteen years of his life on a farm in Gray County, Ontario, and considers that period almost as bad as his last twelve years in Ottawa.
His view of Parliament is that a great deal of trouble and expense could be eliminated by leaving the majority of MPs to stay at home and simply provide Ottawa with rubber stamps with their signatures.
She is a Latter-day Saint, a CCF, an inflationist, a free trader, a central banker, an antimilitarist, and has said so often.
It would probably be liberal if the Liberal Party weren’t so conservative.
He found it necessary to define his Latter-day Saint status when he first went to Ottawa because it was wrongly rumored that he believed in polygamy. It is now well established that she is skeptical of marriage, even in its simplest form.
He gets rid of past romances by declaring that no spirited woman reaches thirty without having had marriage proposals.
He is now in his forties and doesn’t care who knows.
When she was nineteen she got a position as a school teacher in Kinloss, Ontario. She has admitted that she used to dance the night away whenever she got the chance, although she doesn’t explain it to Mr. Woodsworth.
After that, she became ill for a year and moved to a school in Alberta, where she got fresh air and new ideas.
He led them east to another school in Sharon, a community not far from Toronto and primarily inhabited at the time by political economists known as the United Farmers of Ontario.
She fully regained her health in this atmosphere, drew attention for being rude to the Drayton Tariff Commission in 1920, and entered politics by writing a letter to the editor of the Farmers’ Sun, never fully recovering from the shock.
He won his first election in 1921 at a personal expense of $ 200 and a series of sharp comments.
However, the election turned out to be costly later, as she felt compelled to return $ 6,000 of her parliamentary severance pay over the next four years to keep a campaign promise.
He prides himself on always saying what he thinks, but has sometimes overlooked the importance of thinking what he says.
He barely managed to pass with a majority of 243 in the last elections, but he hopes he will not have any problems in the next.
She describes the depression as a transition from one economic era to another, but has not yet revealed how long the interval will last.
His main difficulties include keeping silent, feeling homesick, and having to listen to professional politicians.
She is suspicious of people who are nice to her and dangerous to people who are not.
She says that CCF stands for Come, companions, go ahead; which indicates that it would be better if you let someone else give the party your campaign slogan.
He would rather do an epigram than be right, and sometimes he has.
In her early years in Parliament, she was described by one of the more cultured members as an ignorant little teacher, and Mr. Hector Charlesworth as daring, superficial, and ill-informed.
Since then, she has been a Canadian delegate to the League of Nations and a member of the League’s Disarmament Commission, and is now in danger of becoming a person of national importance.
He once said that Toronto has an odd mindset, a statement notable only for its extreme restraint.
Two of his earliest ambitions were serving his constituents and learning French, the latter being an aspiration once cherished by Senator Meighen, who now better understands the type of French Mr. Bennett speaks.
He has discovered that the House of Commons is one of the prettiest clubs in the country and that much of the business of government takes place at Château Laurier.
If he had his way, he would abolish the Senate, except perhaps the Honorable George P. Graham.
He once danced with Mr. Henry Ford, in Dearborn, Michigan, and later described him as somewhat resembling Mr. Vincent Massey, a comparison that does not make it clear which gentleman, if any, he intended to congratulate.
The last name is MacPhail but she spells it Macphail. which once led a callous critic to suggest that it should be Macphailure.
You have never been afraid of anyone and sometimes you wish you were.
You haven’t learned yet that a politician should never write a letter on anything other than the weather, but of course it’s not politics except at election time.
She believes that the newspapers, except the Farmers’ Sun, are in some kind of capitalist conspiracy to start another war, and she intends to stop it.
She has blue eyes, black hair, and a strong temper.
If half of the members of the House of Commons had half of their righteousness and moral worth, the rest would not matter so much.
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