No, I’m not talking about Quebecois nationalist Abbé Lionel Groulx — though that would also be a good question. As near as I can tell, Quebec hasn’t named anything after the Jew-hating priest for several decades. And — who knows? — maybe renaming the Montreal metro station after someone who didn’t admire Benito Mussolini might lead to Quebeckers wearing turbans or some other calamity.
I’m talking about Emily Murphy, one of the so-called “Famous Five,” who launched a case seeking to prove that women were “persons” and could therefore sit in the Senate. Her image, in statue form or on murals, blights Parliament Hill and several other locales across Canada. This month Canada announced she would appear on our new ePassport alongside Terry Fox.
Murphy might have believed that women were persons, but she wasn’t so sure about pretty much anyone who wasn’t as lily-white as her: Mexicans, Chinese, Greeks. Don’t even get her started on the “Negros.” She was a racist. So were a lot of people early last century. But, as Mark Bourrie explains in a recent essay, Murphy took her bigotry to strange and creepy extremes.
Her 1922 book The Black Candle revealed an international conspiracy of non-whites who had banded together to corrupt the “purity” of the white race with the help of drugs. Known as “The Ring,” this clandestine network was relentlessly working to turn virtuous British-Canadians into sex slaves and drug addicts. Murphy’s solution to the threat non-whites posed was to deport them.
It’s unclear if Murphy actually believed her own bunk, or reasoned that the the gravity of the threat posed by non-whites in Canada justified peddling lies. A psychologist might have something to say about her fascination with dark and dangerous foreigners seducing innocent white women like her. Here’s Bourrie describing her best-selling book:
[A]nother picture shows the natural progression of The Ring’s victims: a fully-clothed white woman reclines with shirtless black man. The caption reads: “When she acquires the habit, she does not know what lies before her; later she does not care.”
Opposite page 49, there’s a picture of a dark-skinned man and white woman, posed together, with opium paraphernalia in front of them. The caption says: “Once a woman has started on the trail of the poppy, the sledding is very easy and downgrade all the way.”
Happily, the Canadian government didn’t take Murphy’s advice on ethnic cleansing. But, according to Bourrie, Canada can thank Murphy for our 90-year ban on cannabis.
Enjoy your new passport.