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Tommy Douglas

The Honourable and Reverend
Tommy Douglas
PCCCSOM
Douglas in 1945
Leader of the New Democratic Party
In office
August 3, 1961 – April 24, 1971
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by David Lewis
7th Premier of Saskatchewan
In office
July 10, 1944 – November 7, 1961
Lieutenant Governor Archibald Peter McNab
Thomas Miller
Reginald J.M. Parker
John M. Uhrich
William J. Patterson
Frank Lindsay Bastedo
Preceded by William John Patterson
Succeeded by Woodrow Lloyd
Member of the House of Commons of Canada
In office
October 14, 1935 – June 15, 1944
Preceded by Edward James Young
Succeeded by Eric Bowness McKay
Constituency Weyburn
In office
October 22, 1962 – June 25, 1968
Preceded by Erhart Regier
Succeeded by riding dissolved
Constituency Burnaby—Coquitlam
In office
February 10, 1969 – May 22, 1979
Preceded by Colin Cameron
Succeeded by riding dissolved
Constituency Nanaimo—Cowichan—The Islands
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan
In office
June 15, 1944 – November 7, 1961
Preceded by George Crane
Succeeded by Junior Staveley
Constituency Weyburn
Personal details
Born Thomas Clement Douglas
(1904-10-20)20 October 1904
Falkirk, Scotland
Died 24 February 1986( 1986-02-24) (aged 81)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Resting place Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Political party CCF (1935–1961)
NDP (1961–1986)
Spouse(s) Irma Dempsey
Alma mater Brandon University
McMaster University
University of Chicago
Profession Baptist minister
Religion Christian (Baptist)
Signature

Thomas Clement "Tommy" Douglas, PC CC SOM (20 October 1904 – 24 February 1986) was a Canadian social democratic politician and Baptist minister. He was elected to the Canadian House of Commons in 1935 as a member of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). He left federal politics to become the Saskatchewan CCF's leader and then the seventh Premier of Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1961. His government was the first democratic socialist government in North America, and it introduced the continent's first single-payer, universal health care program.

After setting up Saskatchewan's medicare program, Douglas stepped down as premier and ran to lead the newly formed federal New Democratic Party (NDP), the successor party of the National CCF. He was elected as its first federal leader in 1961. Although Douglas never led the party to government, through much of his tenure, the party held the balance of power in the House of Commons. He was noted as being the main opposition to the imposition of the War Measures Act during the 1970 October Crisis. He resigned as leader the next year, but remained as a Member of Parliament until 1979.

Douglas was awarded many honorary degrees, and a foundation was named for him and his political mentor Major James Coldwell in 1971. In 1981, he was invested into the Order of Canada, and he became a member of Canada's Privy Council in 1984, two years before his death. In 2004, a CBC Television program named Tommy Douglas "The Greatest Canadian", based on a Canada-wide, viewer-supported survey.

Contents

  • Early life 1
  • Education 2
    • Brandon College 2.1
    • M.A. thesis on eugenics 2.2
    • PhD research in Chicago 2.3
  • From pulpit to politics 3
  • Premier of Saskatchewan 4
    • Medicare 4.1
  • Federal NDP leader 5
    • Becoming the New Party's first leader 5.1
    • The War Measures Act, 1970 5.3
  • Late career and retirement 6
  • Tributes 7
    • Artistic depiction 7.1
  • Fables 8
  • Honorary degrees 9
  • References 10
    • Notes 10.1
    • Citations 10.2
    • Sources 10.3
  • External links 11

Early life

Tommy Clement Douglas was born in 1904 in Camelon, Falkirk, Scotland, the son of Annie (née Clement) and Thomas Douglas, an iron moulder who fought in the Boer War.[1] In 1910, his family emigrated to Canada, where they settled in Winnipeg.[2] Shortly before he left Scotland, Douglas fell and injured his right knee. Osteomyelitis set in and he underwent a number of operations in Scotland in an attempt to cure the condition. Later in Winnipeg, however, the osteomyelitis flared up again, and Douglas was sent to hospital. Doctors there told his parents his leg would have to be amputated. Fortunately, a well-known orthopedic surgeon took an interest in his case and agreed to treat the boy for free if his parents would allow medical students to observe. After several operations, Douglas's leg was saved. This experience convinced him that health care should be free to all. Many years later, Douglas told an interviewer: "I felt that no boy should have to depend either for his leg or his life upon the ability of his parents to raise enough money to bring a first-class surgeon to his bedside."[3]

During World War I, the family returned to Glasgow in Scotland.[4] They returned to Winnipeg in late 1918, in time for Douglas to witness the Winnipeg General Strike.[5] From a rooftop vantage point on Main Street, he witnessed the police charging the strikers with clubs and guns, a streetcar being overturned and set on fire. He also witnessed the RCMP shoot and kill one of the workers. This incident influenced Douglas later in life by cementing his commitment to protect fundamental freedoms in a Bill of Rights when he was Premier of Saskatchewan.[6]

In 1920, at the age of 15, Douglas began an amateur career in boxing at the One Big Union (OBU) gym in Winnipeg.[7] Weighing 135 pounds (61 kg), Douglas fought in 1922 for the Lightweight Championship of Manitoba, and won the title after a six round fight.[7] Douglas sustained a broken nose, a loss of some teeth, and a strained hand and thumb.[7] Douglas successfully held the title the following year.[7]

In 1930, Douglas married Irma Dempsey, a music student at Brandon College. They had one daughter, actress Shirley Douglas, and they later adopted a second daughter, Joan, who became a nurse. His grandson is actor Kiefer Sutherland.[8]

Education

Douglas started elementary school in Winnipeg. He completed his elementary education after returning to Glasgow. He worked as a soap boy in a barber shop, rubbing lather into tough whiskers, then dropped out of high school at 13 after landing a job in a cork factory. The owner offered to pay Douglas's way through night school so that he could learn Portuguese and Spanish, languages that would enable him to become a cork buyer. However, the family returned to Winnipeg when the war ended and Douglas entered the printing trades. He served a five-year apprenticeship and worked as a Linotype operator finally acquiring his journeyman's papers, but decided to return to school to pursue his ambition to become an ordained minister.[9]

Brandon College

In 1924, the 19-year-old Douglas enrolled at Brandon College, a Baptist school affiliated with McMaster University, to finish high school and study theology. During his six years at the College, he was influenced by the Social Gospel movement, which combined Christian principles with social reform. Liberal-minded professors at Brandon encouraged students to question their fundamentalist religious beliefs. Christianity, they suggested, was just as concerned with the pursuit of social justice as it was with the struggle for individual salvation. Douglas took a course in socialism at Brandon and studied Greek philosophy.[10] He came first in his class during his first three years, then competed for gold medals in his last three with a newly arrived student named Stanley Knowles. Both later became ministers of religion and prominent left-wing politicians.[11] Douglas was extremely active in extracurricular activities. Among other things, he became a champion debater, wrote for the school newspaper and participated in student government winning election as Senior Stick, or president of the student body, in his final year.[12]

Douglas financed his education at Brandon College by conducting Sunday services at several rural churches for 15 dollars 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: "[T]he Bible is like a bull fiddle...you can play almost any tune you want on it." He added that his interest in social and economic questions led him to preach about "building a society and building institutions that would uplift mankind".[10] He also earned money delivering entertaining monologues and poetry recitations at church suppers and service club meetings for five dollars a performance.[13] During his second and third years at the College, he preached at a Presbyterian church in Carberry, Manitoba. There he met a farmer's daughter named Irma Dempsey who would later become his wife.[14]

M.A. thesis on eugenics

Douglas graduated from Brandon College in 1930, and completed his master's degree (M.A.) in Sociology from McMaster University in 1933. His thesis, entitled The Problems of the Subnormal Family, endorsed eugenics.[15] The thesis proposed a system that would have required couples seeking to marry to be certified as mentally and morally fit. Those deemed to be "subnormal," because of low intelligence, moral laxity, or venereal disease would be sent to state farms or camps; while those judged to be mentally defective or incurably diseased would be sterilized.[16]

Douglas rarely mentioned his thesis later in his life, and his government never enacted eugenics policies, even though two official reviews of Saskatchewan's mental health system recommended such a program when he became Premier and Minister of Health.[16] By the time Douglas took office in 1944, many people questioned eugenics due to Nazi Germany's embrace of it in its effort to create a "master race."[17] Instead, Douglas implemented vocational training for the mentally handicapped and therapy for those suffering from mental disorders.[18][Note 1]

PhD research in Chicago

In the summer of 1931, Douglas continued his studies in sociology at the University of Chicago. He never did complete his PhD thesis, but was deeply disturbed by his field work in the Depression-era "jungles" or hobo camps where about 75,000 transients sheltered in lean-tos venturing out by day to beg or to steal. Douglas interviewed men who once belonged to the American middle class --- despondent bank clerks, lawyers and doctors. Douglas said later: "There were little soup kitchens run by the Salvation Army and the churches...In the first half-hour they'd be cleaned out. After that there was nothing...It was impossible to describe the hopelessness."[22][23] Douglas was equally disturbed that members of the Socialist Party sat around quoting Marx and Lenin, waiting for a revolution while refusing to help the destitute. Douglas said: "That experience soured me with absolutists...I've no patience with people who want to sit back and talk about a blueprint for society and do nothing about it."[24]

From pulpit to politics

Two months after Douglas graduated from Brandon College, he married Irma Dempsey and the two moved to the small town of Weyburn, Saskatchewan, where he became an ordained minister at the Calvary Baptist Church.[25] Irma was 19, while Douglas was 25.[26] With the onset of the Depression, Douglas became a social activist in Weyburn, and joined the new Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) political party. He was elected to the Canadian House of Commons in the 1935 federal election.[27]

During the September 1939 special House of Commons debate on entering the war, Douglas, who had visited Nazi Germany in 1936 and was disgusted by what he saw, supported going to war against Hitler.[28] He was not a pacifist and stated his reasons:

Douglas and Coldwell's position was eventually adopted by the CCF National Council, but they also did not admonish Woodworth's pacifist stand, and allowed him to put it forward in the House.[29] Douglas assisted Woodsworth, during his leader's speech, by holding up the pages and turning them for him, even though he disagreed with him.[30] Woodsworth had suffered a stroke earlier in the year and he needed someone to hold his notes, and Douglas still held him in very high regard, and dutifully assisted his leader.[30]

After the outbreak of World War II, Douglas enlisted in the wartime Canadian Army.[31] He had volunteered for overseas service when a medical examination turned up his old leg problems.[31] Douglas stayed in Canada and the Grenadiers headed for Hong Kong. If not for that ailment, he would likely have been with the regiment when its members were killed or captured at Hong Kong in December 1941.[31]

Premier of Saskatchewan

The Leader-Post announces the CCF victory, 1944.

Despite being a federal Member of Parliament and not yet an

  • Tommy Douglas and his Government 1944-1960
  • Biography of Thomas Clement Douglas
  • CBC Digital Archives - Tommy Douglas and the NDP
  • Order of Canada citation
  • Tommy Douglas – Parliament of Canada biography
  • Tommy Douglas at Find a Grave
  • Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan
  • Douglas Provincial Park

External links

Sources

  1. ^
  2. ^ Stewart (2003), p. 23
  3. ^ Thomas (1982), pp. 6–7.
  4. ^ McLeod & McLeod (2004), pp. 17–18
  5. ^ McLeod & McLeod (2004), pp. 18–19
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b c d Stewart (2003), p. 50
  8. ^
  9. ^ Shackleton(1975), pp. 18–30.
  10. ^ a b Shackleton 1975, pp. 30–32.
  11. ^ Margoshes 1999, p. 34.
  12. ^ Margoshes 1999, p. 36.
  13. ^ Stewart 2003, p. 54.
  14. ^ Margoshes 1999, pp. 32–33.
  15. ^ McLaren 1990, pp. 8–9.
  16. ^ a b Stewart 2003, p. 80.
  17. ^ Margoshes 1990, p. 63.
  18. ^ Stewart 2003, p. 81.
  19. ^ McLaren 1990, pp. 100 & 105.
  20. ^ McLaren 1990, p. 169.
  21. ^ Black 2003, p. 242.
  22. ^ Shackleton 1975, p. 50.
  23. ^ Stewart 2003, p. 75.
  24. ^ Shackleton 1975, p. 51.
  25. ^ Stewart 2003, pp. 67–68.
  26. ^ Shackleton 1975, p. 46.
  27. ^ a b
  28. ^ Stewart 2003, p. 141.
  29. ^ a b Stewart 2003, p. 140.
  30. ^ a b Stewart 2000, p. 142.
  31. ^ a b c McLeod & McLeod 2004, p. 111.
  32. ^ Quiring, Brett, "Douglas, Thomas Clement (1904–86)", Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Retrieved 2008-02-12.
  33. ^
  34. ^ Strayer, Barry L. "Patriation of the Constitution and the Charter: 25 years after", The Timlin Lecture, 2007-02-20, University of Saskatchewan, p. 14.
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^ a b Stewart (2000), p. 211.
  40. ^ McLeod & McLeod (2004), pp. 271, 275
  41. ^ a b Stewart (2000), pp. 211–212
  42. ^ a b c d e Shackelton (1975), pp. 253–256.
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^ Smith (1989), p. 476.
  47. ^ a b c d e
  48. ^ McLeod & McLeod (2004), p. 336.
  49. ^ Quoted from 55:55 to 56:08 mins.
  50. ^
  51. ^
  52. ^
  53. ^
  54. ^
  55. ^
  56. ^
  57. ^
  58. ^
  59. ^
  60. ^
  61. ^ a b
  62. ^
  63. ^
  64. ^
  65. ^
  66. ^
  67. ^
  68. ^
  69. ^
  70. ^
  71. ^ http://www.governingcouncil.utoronto.ca/Assets/Governing+Council+Digital+Assets/Boards+and+Committees/Committee+for+Honorary+Degrees/degreerecipients1850tillnow.pdf
  72. ^

Citations

  1. ^ It may be noted that two Canadian provinces, Alberta and British Columbia, had eugenics legislation that imposed forced sterilization. Alberta's law was first passed in 1928 while B.C. enacted its legislation in 1933.[19] It was not until 1972 that both provinces repealed the legislation. (See Compulsory sterilization in Canada)[20][21]

Notes

References


Douglas received honorary degrees from several universities, including

Honorary degrees

He was also known for his retelling of the fable of "Mouseland", likens the majority of voters as mice, and how they either elect black or white cats as their politicians, but never their own mice: meaning that workers and their general interests were not being served by electing wealthy politicians from the Liberal or Conservative parties (black and white cats), and that only a party from their class (mice), originally the CCF, later the NDP, could serve their interests (mice).[66] Years later, his famous grandson, television actor Kiefer Sutherland, provided the introduction to a Mouseland animated video that used a Douglas Mouseland speech as its narration.[67]

"The Cream Separator" is a fable, written by Douglas, which aims to explain the inherent injustices of the capitalist system as it relates to the agricultural sector by making the analogy that the upper class gets the cream, the middle class gets the whole milk, and the farmers and industrial workers get a watery substance that barely resembles milk.[64][65]

Fables

Douglas was also the subject of a 1986 National Film Board of Canada documentary Tommy Douglas: Keeper of the Flame, which received the Gemini Award for Best Writing in a Documentary Program or Series.[63] Douglas was mentioned in the Michael Moore documentary Sicko, which compared the health care system in the United States with that of Canada and other countries.

In the two CBC Television mini-series about Pierre Trudeau, Trudeau and Trudeau II: Maverick in the Making, Douglas is portrayed by Eric Peterson. In the biography mini-series, Prairie Giant: The Tommy Douglas Story, which aired on 12 and 13 March 2006, also on CBC, Douglas was played by Michael Therriault. The movie was widely derided by critics as being historically inaccurate. Particularly, the movie's portrayal of James Gardiner, premier of Saskatchewan from the late 1920s to mid-1930s, was objected to by political historians and the Gardiner family itself. In response, the CBC consulted a "third party historian" to review the film and pulled it from future broadcasts, including halting all home and educational sales.[61] Prairie Giant was shown in Asia on the Hallmark Channel on 11 and 12 June 2007.[61][62]

Artistic depiction

Douglas Provincial Park near Saskatchewan's Lake Diefenbaker and Qu'Appelle River Dam was named after him. A statue of him, created by Lea Vivot, was erected in his hometown of Weyburn in October 2010. Several schools have been named after him, including Tommy Douglas Collegiate in Saskatoon, and a student housing co-op in Toronto, Campus Co-operative Residences Inc., named one of their houses after him as well.[59] The Tommy Douglas Secondary School in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada named in his honour opened in February 2015.[60]

Tributes

In a national TV contest, conducted by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in 2004, he was crowned "Greatest Canadian" by viewers in an online vote, almost 18 years after his death.[58]

Douglas died of cancer on 24 February 1986, at the age of 81 in Ottawa and was buried at Beechwood Cemetery.[55][56][57]

In June 1984, Douglas was injured when he was struck by a bus, but he quickly recovered and on his 80th birthday he claimed to The Globe and Mail that he usually walked up to five miles a day.[52] By this point in his life his memory was beginning to slow down and he stopped accepting speaking engagements but remained active in the Douglas-Coldwell Foundation. Later that year, he became a member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada on the 30th of November.[53][54]

In 1980, Douglas was awarded a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa by Carleton University in Ottawa. On 22 June 1981, Douglas was appointed to the Order of Canada as a Companion for his service as a political leader, and innovator in public policy.[51] In 1985, he was awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit. In the mid-1980s, Brandon University created a students' union building in honour of Douglas and his old friend, Stanley Knowles.

Douglas resigned as NDP leader in 1971, but retained his seat in the House of Commons. Around the same time as the leadership convention held to replace him, he asked the party not to buy him an elaborate parting gift.[50] Instead, he and his friend and political mentor M.J. Coldwell were honoured by the party with the creation of the Douglas–Coldwell Foundation in 1971. He served as the NDP's energy critic under the new leader, David Lewis. He was re-elected in the riding of Nanaimo–Cowichan–The Islands in the 1972 and 1974 elections.[27] He retired from politics in 1979 and served on the board of directors of Husky Oil, an Alberta oil and gas exploration company that had holdings in Saskatchewan.

Late career and retirement

They took much grief for being the only parliamentarians to vote against it.[47] Lewis, speaking for the party at a press scrum that day: "The information we do have, showed a situation of criminal acts and criminal conspiracy in Quebec. But, there is no information that there was unintended, or apprehended, or planned insurrection, which alone, would justify invoking the War Measures Act."[49] About five years later, many of the MPs who voted to implement it regretted doing so, and belatedly honoured Douglas and Lewis for their stand against it.[47] Progressive Conservative leader Robert Stanfield went so far as to say that, "Quite frankly, I've admired Tommy Douglas and David Lewis, and those fellows in the NDP for having the courage to vote against that, although they took a lot of abuse at the time....I don't brood about it. I'm not proud of it."[47]

The October 1970 Quebec FLQ Crisis put Douglas and David Lewis – now a Member of Parliament – on the "hotseat", with Lewis being the only NDP MP with any roots in Quebec.[46] He and Lewis were opposed to the 16 October implementation of the War Measures Act.[47] The Act, enacted previously only for wartime purposes, imposed extreme limitations on civil liberties, and gave the police and military vastly expanded powers for arresting and detaining suspects, usually with little to no evidence required.[47] Although it was only meant to be used in Quebec, since it was federal legislation, it was in force throughout Canada. Some police services, from outside of Quebec, took advantage of it for their own purposes, which mostly had nothing even remotely related to the Quebec situation, as Lewis and Douglas suspected. During a second vote on 19 October, Sixteen of the 20 members of the NDP parliamentary caucus voted against the implementation of the War Measures Act in the House of Commons and four voted with the liberal government.[48]

The War Measures Act, 1970

While the NDP did better in elections than its CCF predecessor, the party did not experience the breakthrough it had hoped for. Despite this, Douglas was greatly respected by party members and Canadians at large as the party wielded considerable influence during Lester Pearson's minority governments in the mid-1960s.

Re-elected as MP for that riding in the 1963 and 1965 elections, Douglas lost the redistricted seat of Burnaby—Seymour in the 1968 federal election. He won a seat again in a 1969 by-election in the riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan—The Islands, following the death of Colin Cameron in 1968, and represented it until his retirement from electoral politics in 1979.

Douglas resigned from provincial politics and sought election to the House of Commons in the riding of Regina City in 1962, but was defeated by Ken More. He was later elected in a by-election in the riding of Burnaby—Coquitlam, British Columbia.

House of Commons, Act II

As far back as 1941, Coldwell wanted Douglas to succeed him in leading the National CCF (at that time, it was obvious that Coldwell would be assuming the national leadership in the near future).[42] When the time came for the "New Party" to form, in 1961, Coldwell pressured Douglas to run for the leadership.[42] Coldwell did not trust Argue, and many in the CCF leadership thought that he was already having secret meetings with the Liberals to merge the "New Party" with the Liberal Party of Canada.[42] As well, it was thought by Coldwell and Douglas, that Lewis would not be a viable alternative to Argue, because he likely could not defeat him, partially due to his lack of a parliamentary seat but also, and likely more importantly, his role as party disciplinarian over the years, made him many enemies, enough to potentially prevent him from winning the leadership.[42] Douglas, after much consultation, with Coldwell, Lewis and his caucus, decided in June 1961 to reluctantly contest the leadership of the New Party.[42] He handily defeated Argue on 3 August 1961 at the first NDP leadership convention in Ottawa, and became the new party's first leader.[43] Six months later Argue crossed the floor, and became a Liberal.[44][45]

[41] Coldwell stepped down as leader, and Argue replaced him, becoming the party's final national leader.[41] To prevent their plans from derailing, Lewis attempted to persuade Argue not to force a vote at the convention on the question of the party's leadership. He was unsuccessful. There was a split between the parliamentary caucus and the party executive on the convention floor.[40] The

Tommy Douglas, c. 1971.

Becoming the New Party's first leader

Federal NDP leader

The success of the province's public health care program was not lost on the federal government. Another Saskatchewan politician, newly elected Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, decreed in 1958 that any province seeking to introduce a hospital plan would receive 50 cents on the dollar from the federal government. In 1962, Diefenbaker appointed Justice Emmett Hall—also of Saskatchewan, a noted jurist and Supreme Court Justice—to Chair a Royal Commission on the national health system—the Royal Commission on Health Services. In 1964, Justice Hall recommended the nationwide adoption of Saskatchewan's model of public health insurance. In 1966, the Liberal minority government of Lester B. Pearson created such a program, with the federal government paying 50% of the costs and the provinces the other half. So, the adoption of health care across Canada ended up being the work of three men with diverse political ideals - Tommy Douglas, John Diefenbaker and Lester Pearson.

Douglas is widely known as the father of Medicare, but the Saskatchewan universal program was finally launched by his successor, Woodrow Lloyd, in 1962. Douglas stepped down as premier and as a member of the legislature the previous year, to lead the newly formed federal successor to the CCF, the New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP).[36]

Douglas's number one concern was the creation of Medicare. He introduced medical insurance reform in his first term, and gradually moved the province towards universal medicare near the end of his last term. In the summer of 1962, Saskatchewan became the centre of a hard-fought struggle between the provincial government, the North American medical establishment, and the province's physicians, who brought things to a halt with the 1962 Saskatchewan Doctors' Strike. The doctors believed their best interests were not being met and feared a significant loss of income as well as government interference in medical care decisions even though Douglas agreed that his government would pay the going rate for service that doctors charged. The medical establishment claimed that Douglas would import foreign doctors to make his plan work and used racist images to try to scare the public.[35]

Medicare

Thanks to a booming postwar economy and the prudent financial management of provincial treasurer Clarence Fines, the Douglas government slowly paid off the huge public debt left by the previous Liberal government, and created a budget surplus for the Saskatchewan government. Coupled with a federal government promise in 1959 to give even more money for medical care, this paved the way for Douglas's most notable achievement, the introduction of universal health care legislation in 1961.

Premier Douglas was the first head of any government in Canada to call for a constitutional bill of rights. This he did at a federal-provincial conference in Quebec City in January 1950. No one in attendance at the conference supported him in this. Ten years later, Premier Lesage of Quebec joined with Premier Douglas at a First Ministers' Conference in July 1960, in advocating for a constitutional bill of rights. Thus, respectable momentum was given to the idea that finally came to fruition, on 17 April 1982, with the proclamation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.[34]

  • the creation of the publicly owned Saskatchewan Power Corp., successor to the Saskatchewan Electrical Power Commission, which began a long program of extending electrical service to isolated farms and villages;
  • the creation of Canada's first publicly owned automotive insurance service, the Saskatchewan Government Insurance Office;
  • the creation of a large number of Crown Corporations, many of which competed with existing private sector interests;
  • legislation that allowed the unionization of the public service;
  • a program to offer free hospital care to all citizens—the first in North America.
  • passage of the Saskatchewan Bill of Rights, legislation that broke new ground as it protected both fundamental freedoms and equality rights against abuse not only by government actors but also on the part of powerful private institutions and persons. (The Saskatchewan Bill of Rights preceded the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations by 18 months).

Douglas and the Saskatchewan CCF then went on to win five straight majority victories in all subsequent Saskatchewan provincial elections up to 1960. Most of his government's pioneering innovations came about during its first term, including:

[33] in June 1953.coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and thus forming the first democratic socialist government in not only Canada, but all of North America. As premier, Douglas attended the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan, winning 47 of 53 seats in the 1944 provincial election He led the CCF to power in the [32]

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