Sunday, September 17, 2006
Tommy Douglas - Greatest Canadian of All Time
When he was a child, he suffered an infection that necessitate amputation of his leg, had his doctor not found him a good ‘subject’ for his class. That was when Tommy Douglas started thinking that Medical care should be available to all, regardless of his/her financial condition.
He is the son of a Scottish Immigrants, born in Scotland grew up and educated in Canada. Became a Baptist Minister and later Joined politics.
He has a degree in Sociology and completed his Master Degree (MA) with his Thesis entitled the ‘Problem of Subnormal Family’ (and was in Eugenics) - and suggested sterilization for mentally and physically handicapped Canadians and send them to camps. Five years later he completely rejected his theory after a visit to Nazi Germany in 1938.
He was first elected to Parliament in 1935 as a member of Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (later known as New Democrats), a socialist party. Rejected on his application to join the Military at the outbreak of World II because of the discovery of his foot ailment, he was elected leader of the Provincial CCF party of Saskatchewan and in 1944 won an election and lead the govt., the first ever Socialist government in Canada and North America. He Held that Position from l941-l960 and during the period he was able to implement his vision of social economy that was anathema of the time. He was able to implement a program of Government insurance for automobile in Saskatchewan that until today exist. But his vision for Canada or in particular for his province of Universally funded health care was his most cherished dream even from his childhood. And it was a hard Struggle. He was met with Doctors’ strike and unsympathetic disregard from other governments for such an ambitious plan. But Douglas proved its feasability that by careful financial planning, the health care profession can accept government supervision with enough money to finance it. It paves the way to the adaption of the system all over Canada.. Although it was the succeeding CCF government lead by another leader who finally introduced the Bill, when TC Douglas resigned, it was his brainchild and he later became the leader of the Federal New Democratic Party in l961-71 and was very active in Politics until his retirement in l979.
The Man who we will be remembered as the father of Medicare passed away in l986 at age 81. He was married to Irma Dempsey, and parents of Actress Shirley Douglas, adopted daughter Joan, and the Grandfather of Kiefer Sutherland.
In 2004, He was voted as the Greatest Canadian of all time in a nationally televised contest organized by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Nothing beats that honour, though he was also awarded the Order of Canada ( the highest honour vestowed civilians)
Moral: You don’t need to be on top or the most powerful person of the land to do the most good for your fellow countrymen and women.