More than fifty years after most Canadian women received the right to vote, very few women were elected as members of Parliament and none came from Quebec. Canada's 1972 federal election marked a refreshing transition. Twice as many female candidates ran for office than in the previous election, and, of the five women elected to the House of Commons that year, three Liberal Party candidates – Monique Bégin, Albanie Morin, and Jeanne Sauvé – shared the honour of being the first Quebec women MPs.
In her riveting memoir, Monique Bégin tells the story of her journey into politics and beyond. Born in Italy, Bégin spent her childhood in France and Portugal before arriving in Montreal as a refugee of the Second World War. In 1967, she was swept into the world of politics when she became executive secretary of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women. Inspired by Pierre Trudeau, she then ran for the House of Commons and served in various cabinet positions, ultimately spearheading the landmark Canada Health Act before retiring to pursue a career in academia.
Offering a revealing glimpse into the pervading sexism of Canadian public life,
details the experiences of a feisty, candid outsider who, through sheer fortitude, intelligence, and hard work, became minister of health and welfare, a university dean, a sought-after member for commissions of inquiry, and an international expert on public health. The voice of a woman in a male world, a francophone among anglophones, and a skeptical politician, Ladies, Upstairs! provides a fascinating account of one of Canada's most impressive federal ministers and her discoveries through the decades.
Presented with Ottawa Public Library and Library and Archives Canada
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