Tommy Douglas

Tommy Douglas

Book - 2011
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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.
Publisher: Toronto : Penguin Group (Canada), 2011.
ISBN: 9780670068517
Characteristics: xv, 235 p. ;,21 cm.

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MelatSCPL
Dec 14, 2016

If you lean left, politically, you'll love this book; if you lean right, you'll hate it. Biography is supposed to be objective. This one is not. It's basically Vincent Lam's tribute to a man he considers (as do many, many of us) our Greatest Canadian. On far too many occasions the author crosses from biography into hero worship; he lionizes the man, exaggerating his accomplishments while he excuses his frailties, downplaying his shortcomings.

s
sine_wave
Jan 24, 2014

I was interested in our Canadian Health Care, decided to read about Tommy Douglas and thought this book would be a good start. It was a very easy and informative read with respect for larger biographies on the man. As a student of history, I was completely ignorant to the CCF, NDP and Tommy Douglas. This book was inspiring and a real treat. Well worth it.

g
gloryb
Jul 12, 2012

Lam has written a very readable summarized account of Tommy Douglas's political life. Lam emphasizes how events that Douglas witnessed as an adolescent and how his strong Christian beliefs in helping others in need influenced his political beliefs. Lam also shows how Douglas's "radical" ideas gradually found their way into the political platform of Canada's major political parties. When I read about Douglas's political ideas, I wondered why there was so much fuss/fear associated with them in the 60's and 70's. However, Saskatchewan farmers at that time saw how these policies would benefit them and supported Douglas for 20 years. Lam shows how carefully Douglas implemented his policies. For example, the chapter on health care explains how Douglas first hired medical advisers who assessed the feasibility of implementing universal health care in Saskatchewan. Lam makes Douglas's political policies easy to understand in this short book. His bibliography points to longer works for those needing more detail. Lam's book emphasizes that Douglas worked both in and out of politics to improve the life of the impoverished working person. If he were alive today, I wonder what terrific ideas Douglas would be espousing and what our reaction would be.

c
crazy_teacher
Jan 09, 2012

Wow! Absolutely brilliant writing! This book is clear and concise, tells the story of TD as a politician- how he became who he did, how he accomplished what he did, and who he was, as a man.
Very helpful in the times that we live in now - when we are choosing a new leader for the NDP, my vote will go to the person who is most like Tommy Douglas.
Vincent Lam did a great job capturing my mind and filling me with nationalistic pride :)

debwalker Apr 09, 2011

"The middle of a vitriolic election campaign is the perfect time to read about Tommy Douglas. Tommy stood for enduring human ideals, something bigger than tax cuts, petty partisan advantage or his own ego. From the moment he entered politics in the Great Depression until he left 45 years later, Douglas battled fearlessly, and surprisingly successfully, for the public good against private greed."
Roy MacSkimming
Globe & Mail April 8 2011

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