Fighting the good fight
Tommy Douglas helped weave the first strands of the social safety net that
defines Canadian society today. As a Baptist minister in Depression-era
Saskatchewan, he plunged into public life during the formative years of the
federal socialist party, the CCF (Cooperative Commonwealth Federation).
In 1934, he left the pulpit to devote himself to politics. He led North America’s
first socialist government, serving as premier of Saskatchewan between 1944
and 1961. He introduced over 100 important laws, including one that gave
Canada its first government health insurance. As the first Leader of the federal
New Democratic Party (NDP) from 1961 to 1971, he was perceived to be
the conscience of Canada.
Sometimes people say to me, ‘Do you feel your life has been wasted?
The New Democratic Party has not come to power in Ottawa.’ And I look
back and think that a boy from a poor home on the wrong side of the tracks
in Winnipeg was given the privilege of being part of a movement that has
changed Canada. In my lifetime I have seen it change Canada.
Tommy Douglas, 1970