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Greatest Canadian of the Twentieth Century

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Submitted By tianaah
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Who is the Greatest Canadian of the Twentieth Century? Thomas Clement Douglas was born on October 20, 1904 in Falkirk, Scotland. He was often called Tommy. He and his family immigrated to Canada in 1911. They settled in Winnipeg, Manitoba. When Tommy was 10, he had a bone infection in his leg, osteomyelitis, which needed many operations. None of the operations helped him and his family could not afford to send him to a special doctor. He was extremely fortunate when a visiting surgeon volunteered to operate on him for free. He was also a minister and a politician. Tommy Douglas is the greatest Canadian due to the fact he achieved Medicare, became the first national leader of the NDP and fought for social programs even in the presence of strong oppositions. Tommy Douglas learnt from the experience of his sickness the importance of doctors. The sickness and how he was saved was his inspiration for the Medicare. He wanted everyone to receive the Medicare they needed, even if they did not have a great deal of money. During one of his speeches as a politician, he said, I came to believe that health services ought not to have a price-tag on them, and that people should be able to get whatever health services they required irrespective of their individual capacity to pay. This inspired him to work hard so as to make health care available to all Canadians at no cost. In 1959, Tommy announced the plan to establish a medical insurance called Medicare. He faced strong oppositions from Saskatchewan doctors and the medical community who went on strike in an attempt to defeat his mission. It was a period when the country was trying to recover its economy due to the great depression and drought, so his mission was prohibited. Despite the oppositions, Tommy Douglas was persistent."I have started a big job here," he said during a newspaper interview, "and I would like to finish it if people will let me." He was determined to make a change in people’s life from his experience. Tommy’s project was finally introduced by Lloyd’s government in Saskatchewan. At the time when Medicare was not introduced, people had to pay huge amount of money to get good health care. Many that were poor died as a result of lack of money to get the adequate health care required. The Medicare allowed the prepayment of costs, universal coverage, high quality of service, public administration and a form of service acceptable to both providers and recipients which helped people to get the necessary health care they needed. All Canadians share the cost of this Medicare through taxes. Today, Medicare is implemented nationwide and is one of Canada’s aspects that is known and respected around the world. Over 33 million Canadians are enjoying the Medicare that was put in place by Tommy Douglas. Tommy Douglas was also known for being the first national leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP). He had a long career as a politician. In 1944, he became the premier of Saskatchewan and made many laws to improve people’s lives. He was often triggered by the events around him. The sights of the terrible suffering caused by drought and economic depression of the 1930s led him to preach the “social gospel”. Tommy’s political party, called the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), supported socialism-a system in which the government manages the economy, health care, and other services. He ran the first socialist government in North America. In 1961, he went into federal politics and was chosen as first leader of the NDP which was formally known as the CCF Tommy Douglas also brought forth so many social programs such as the Canada pension plan, old age pensions, family allowances and workers compensation plans. These programs are helpful to Canadians because it provides money for senior citizens and people who have children. During his government, the Saskatchewan Bill of Rights was passed which guaranteed the freedom and equality of all citizens. Light also came on in the rural areas of Saskatchewan when his Rural Electrification Art was approved in 1949. Over seventy percent of Douglas’s first budget went to services such as old age pensions, and free medical, hospital and dental care. He also spoke out against the War Measures Act that allowed the government to assume sweeping emergency powers in the invasion of war during October Crisis. He is a man that considers people’s life than power and riches. Tommy Douglas is well-known for his long-standing dream of universal Medicare. He was a brilliant speaker with a dry sense of humour. He won over audiences many times by his wit even though they may have disagreed with his policies . In 1981, he became a Companion of the Order of Canada. This award is given to Canadians who have worked hard to improve the country. It is one of Canada’s highest awards. He died of cancer on February 24, 1986 at Ottawa, Ontario. Years after his death, Canadians still celebrate the life of Tommy Douglas and he cannot be forgotten in Canadian history. In 2004, Tommy was named the greatest Canadian of all time in a poll by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) television network. He is known as “father of Medicare” and a strong supporter of other social programs. Tommy is responsible for the majority of the great benefits Canadians enjoy today. He touched many by his ability to reach out to the people and make lasting impressions. Tommy Douglas remains a source of motivation for socially minded people universally.

Works cited

The Canadians, Tommy Douglas by Bill Waiser
Published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside © 2006 in Canada
Call #:971.24092 page 1

Remarkable Canadians, Tommy Douglas by Bryan Pezzi
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers Limited © 2008
Call #:971.2403 page 16

Remarkable Canadians, Tommy Douglas by Bryan Pezzi
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers Limited © 2008
Call #:971.2403 page 4

Remarkable Canadians, Tommy Douglas by Bryan Pezzi
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers Limited © 2008
Call #:971.2403 page 17

Remarkable Canadians, Tommy Douglas by Bryan Pezzi
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers Limited © 2008
Call #:971.2403 page 11

Remarkable Canadians, Tommy Douglas by Bryan Pezzi
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers Limited © 2008
Call #:971.2403 page 17

The Canadians, Tommy Douglas by Bill Waiser
Published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside © 2006 in Canada
Call #:971.24092 page 70

The Canadians, Tommy Douglas by Bill Waiser
Published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside © 2006 in Canada
Call #:971.24092 page 58

The Canadians, Tommy Douglas by Bill Waiser
Published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside © 2006 in Canada
Call #:971.24092 page 60

The Canadians, Tommy Douglas by Bill Waiser
Published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside © 2006 in Canada
Call #:971.24092 page 70

The Canadians, Tommy Douglas by Bill Waiser
Published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside © 2006 in Canada
Call #:971.24092 page 70

Remarkable Canadians, Tommy Douglas by Bryan Pezzi
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers Limited © 2008
Call #:971.2403 page 17

Remarkable Canadians, Tommy Douglas by Bryan Pezzi
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers Limited © 2008
Call #:971.2403 page 18

Remarkable Canadians, Tommy Douglas by Bryan Pezzi
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers Limited © 2008
Call #:971.2403 page 4

The junior encyclopaedia of Canada by James
Published by Hurtig publishers © 1990 in Alberta, Canada
Call #:reference page 46

Remarkable Canadians, Tommy Douglas by Bryan Pezzi
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers Limited © 2008
Call #:971.2403 page 18

The junior encyclopaedia of Canada by James
Published by Hurtig publishers © 1990 in Alberta, Canada
Call #:reference page 47

The Canadians, Tommy Douglas by Bill Waiser
Published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside © 2006 in Canada
Call #:971.24092 page 70

The 10 Greatest Canadian Political Leaders by Hughena Matheson
Published by Scholastic © 2008
Call #:971.092 page 32

The Canadians, Tommy Douglas by Bill Waiser
Published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside © 2006 in Canada
Call #:971.24092 page 70

The junior encyclopaedia of Canada by James
Published by Hurtig publishers © 1990 in Alberta, Canada
Call #:reference page 47

Remarkable Canadians, Tommy Douglas by Bryan Pezzi
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers Limited © 2008
Call #:971.2403 page 19

The junior encyclopaedia of Canada by James
Published by Hurtig publishers © 1990 in Alberta, Canada
Call #:reference page 46

Remarkable Canadians, Tommy Douglas by Bryan Pezzi
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers Limited © 2008
Call #:971.2403 page 19

The junior encyclopaedia of Canada by James
Published by Hurtig publishers © 1990 in Alberta, Canada
Call #:reference page 47

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