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One of our most beloved politicians passed away on this day in 1986

Tommy Douglas: The legend


By —— Bio and Archives--February 24, 2010

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One of our most beloved politicians passed away on this day in 1986. Tommy Douglas, (1904-1986), a former Saskatchewan Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) premier and national NDP leader, was the first in North America to bring in government medicare health plan.

The former statement barely does justice to Douglas. He was so much more to so many people. Thomas Clement “Tommy” Douglas was a Scottish-born Baptist minister who became a prominent Canadian social democratic politician.

At 15, Douglas began an amateur career in boxing. Weighing 135 pounds, Douglas fought in 1922 for the Lightweight Championship of Manitoba; and after a six round fight won the title. Douglas sustained a broken nose, a loss of some teeth, and a strained hand and thumb. Douglas successfully held the title the following year.

Douglas financed his education at Brandon College, a Baptist school affiliated with McMaster University, by conducting Sunday services at several rural churches for $15 a week. A shortage of ordained clergy forced smaller congregations to rely on student ministers. Douglas reported later that he preached sermons advocating social reform and helping the poor. “The Bible is like a bull fiddle,” he said, “you can play almost any tune you want on it.”
Two months after Douglas graduated from Brandon College, he married Irma Dempsey a music student at Brandon College and the two moved to the small town of Weyburn, Saskatchewan where he became an ordained minister at the Calvary Baptist Church. Irma was only 19, while Douglas was a young-looking 25.

They had one daughter, actress Shirley Douglas, and they later adopted a second daughter Joan, who became a nurse. His grandson is the actor Kiefer Sutherland. With the onset of the Depression, Douglas became a social activist in Weyburn, and joined the new CCF organization.

He was elected to the Canadian House of Commons in the election. As leader of the CCF from 1942 and the seventh Premier of Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1961, he led the first socialist government in North America and introduced universal public healthcare to Canada.

When the CCF united with the Canadian Labour Congress to form the united with the Canadian Labour Congress to form the New Democratic Party, he was elected as its first federal leader and served in that post from 1961 to 1971.
Douglas died of cancer at the age of 81 in Ottawa. He was voted “The Greatest Canadian” of all time in a nationally televised contest organized by the CanadianBroadcasting Corporation in 2004. There are good politicians and great politicians but you won’t find one like Tommy Douglas again.  He will forever have a place in our hearts and in It’s Our History, Our Country. 


http://www.cbc.ca/greatest/top_ten/nominee/douglas-tommy.html
http://www.weyburnreview.com/tommydouglas/welcome.html
http://www.tommydouglas.ca/ http://archives.cbc.ca/politics/parties_leaders/topics/851/


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Ronald Wolf -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Ronald Wolf wolfthewriter.com is a college graduate of a renowned journalism program at Niagara College in Welland, Ontario Canada. He has been published in numerous newspapers and magazines in three different countries. He is a former newspaper owner who specializes in photography and writing.

He presently resides in northwestern, Ontario Canada where he continues to research and write articles about Canadian history, Canadian paranormal and other interesting articles.


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