Tommy Douglas

1904 – 1986   First Leader of New Democratic Party, Father of Universal Medical Care in Canada

Douglas was born in Scotland; moving to Canada as a boy. An athlete, he won the Manitoba lightweight boxing championship twice in the 1920s. Douglas trained first as a printer, but subsequently as a Baptist minister. He graduated in 1930 and took a position in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, where he saw first-hand the hardships brought by the Great Depression. Douglas became active as a socialist and was elected to Parliament in 1935 on the CCF platform. He resigned his seat in 1944 to win the Saskatchewan provincial election, forming the first socialist government in North America. While Premier, Douglas brought in the first North American universal medical coverage. A leading figure in the founding of the NDP, he was re-elected to Parliament in 1962, where he led the fight for national medical coverage. Douglas’ grandson is the actor Kiefer Sutherland.

Weyburn Lodge No. 20, Saskatchewan

Quotes   

“The greatest way to defend democracy is to make it work.”

“Those who want to burn books are either afraid of the ideas contained within the covers or they haven’t the courage to stand up for the views which they themselves profess to hold.”