Thomas (Tommy) Clement Douglas
Born: October 20, 1904
Died: February 24, 1986
Place of Birth: Falkirk, Scotland
The Douglas family emigrated from Scotland to Canada in 1910 and settled in Winnipeg.
They actually moved back to Glasgow during World War I but returned to Winnipeg in 1918.
Tommy Douglas developed osteomyelitis in his right leg as a youth and the event had an impact on his future political actions.
A graduate of Brandon College, Douglas became an ordained Baptist minister in 1929.
In college, Tommy Douglas was a good scholar and developed his leadership skills through elocution classes, drama, and debating.
It was through being a minister he saw the poverty and hardship that accompanied the Great Depression.
In 1932, he helped form the Farmer Labour Party which, along with other western labour movements, developed into
the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, the first national socialist party.
Elected in 1935 to the House of Commons, Douglas became known for making eloquent speeches giving western Canada a natural leader.
After serving nine years, he resigned to run in Saskatchewan as leader of the provincial CCF party.
At age 39, Tommy Douglas became the first premier in Canada to represent a democratic socialist government.
Douglas introduced numerous bills that were mindful of the lower end of society; in 1959 he brought in Canada's
first provincial hospitalization and medicare plan.
In 1961,the CCF party transformed itself into the national New Democratic Party with Douglas as its leader.
He lost in the 1962 national election but was successful in gaining a vacated seat in British Columbia.
Canada passed the Medical Care Act in 1966; the work Douglas did in Saskatchewan proved such a plan was feasible.
Tommy Douglas was a dynamic leader for the socialist movement across Canada; for that, many Canadians are grateful for this important contribution.
For detailed research and more information, check out any of the following:
About.com Canada Online
Tommy Douglas Speech
Winnipeg Free Press
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Last Updated: April 2, 2013
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