Canada is like an Old Cow

Posted: January 16, 2012 - 15:11 , by admin
Programs and Events, Canada, History | Comments (0) | Comment

Submitted by Conrad Biernacki, ROM Programs Manager

Tommy Douglas once said, “Canada is like an old cow. The West feeds it. Ontario and Quebec milk it. And you can well imagine what it’s doing in the Maritimes.”

This vivid imagery has got to inspire you to find out more about this famous Canadian and his achievements.

Image of Tommy Douglas

Tommy Douglas, premier of Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1961

Tommy Douglas (1904-1986), the premier of Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1961, led the first social democratic government in North America and introduced universal healthcare to Canada. When the CCF (Co-operative Commonwealth Federation) joined with the Canadian Labour Congress to establish the New Democratic Party, Tommy Douglas was elected as its first federal leader from 1961 to 1971.

The creation of Medicare was the top priority for Tommy Douglas.  Despite strong opposition from physicians that led to the Saskatchewan Doctors’ Strike in 1962, Medicare was established in the province, and with the assistance of John Diefenbaker and Lester Pearson, it was adopted across Canada in 1966.

Known as the Father of Medicare, Tommy Douglas will be the subject of a lively debate at the
Royal Ontario Museum on Wednesday, January 25, beginning at 6:30 pm.  

The resolution of the debate—Tommy Douglas put Canada’s Healthcare on the Wrong Path—will be debated by Michael Bliss (one of Canada’s most prolific and prominent historians) and Greg Marchildon (CEO of the Romanow Royal Commission on Health Care).  Jack Granatstein will moderate the evening which will include, if past debates at the ROM are any indication, raised voices, endless barbs, plenty of finger pointing, as well as cheers and moans from the audience. Initial and final straw votes by the attendance will determine the winner of the debate.


Image of Michael Bliss

Michael Bliss - one of Canada’s most prolific and prominent historians


Image of Greg Marchildon

Greg Marchildon - CEO of the Romanow Royal Commission on Health Care

Image of Jack Granatstein standing at microphone

Jack Granatstein - The Moderator

The event will be quite a spectacle and is held in the ROM’s main Samuel Hall Currelly Gallery. You can listen to the audio podcast of a previous debate: Pierre Trudeau was a Disaster for Canada

These debates are part of an ongoing series at the ROM called History Wars.

Come to the debate and tell us what you think.

Discuss “History Wars at the ROM” on Twitter using hashtag #ROMHistoryWars and @ROMtoronto

For some background see:

Tommy Douglas, Wikipedia article
 Biography of Thomas Clement Douglas,
Tommy Douglas and the NDP, CBC Digital Archives