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May 29 , 2009

Tommy Douglas


Once voted the greatest Canadian of all time, Tommy Douglas was a prairie politician who believed in democratic socialism, the crucial role of civil rights, and the great potential of cooperation for the common good. He is best known as the “Father of Medicare.” Born in 1904, Douglas was a championship boxer and a Baptist minister who later exchanged his pulpit for a political platform. A powerful orator and tireless activist, he sat first as a federal MP and then served for 17 years as premier of Saskatchewan, where he introduced the universal health-insurance system that would eventually be adopted across Canada. As leader of the national NDP, he was a staunch advocate of programs such as the Canada Pension Plan and was often the conscience of Parliament on matters of civil liberties. In the process, he made democratic socialism a part of mainstream Canadian political life. Giller Prize–winning author Vincent Lam, an emergency physician who works on the front lines of the health-care system, brings a novelist's eye to the life of one of Canada's greats.

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