The Health care debate in the US rages on without rest. The Republicans and the “Tea-Party” bunch are reeking havoc at meetings across the land spouting logic that just doesn’t fit. Democrats on the other hand have enough power in congress to pass the bill and be done with it. But unfortunately that is not the way things are done South of the border.

Canada struggled with the same question back in the 1960’s. However, Canada was blessed with the presence of a “little guy” by the name of Tommy Douglas. A socialist for sure, he single handed fought for and gave Canada their greatest treasure “Universal Health Care”.

You see, Canada has, as does America, a few socialist leanings. It’s just that in Canada we understand the meaning of the word socialism, where as Americans are taught to fear the very word. In Canada, if something is good for the people, someone will introduce us to it. If it is a good idea we will put it to use and be damned with the labels. Police forces, Schools, Libraries and Fire departments to name a few are socialized institutions. So why not Health Care?

Tommy Douglas was from Saskatchewan. He was the leader of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation or; C.C.F. party which was the first socialist party elected to power in North America. Tommy Douglas is looked upon by most Canadians as the Greatest Canadian to ever live. Greater than Sir John A. MacDonald (our first Prime Minister). Greater even that Wayne Gretzky…..

Amid widespread skepticism, Premier Douglas mobilized aggressively, passing more than 100 bills during his first term. He introduced paved roads, sewage systems and power to most farmers and managed to reduce the provincial debt by $20 million. Over the next 18 years he weathered Communist fear campaigns and a province-wide doctor’s strike. Elected to five terms, he introduced Saskatchewan residents to car insurance, labour reforms and his long-standing dream of universal Medicare.

In 1961 Douglas took his brand of politics to Ottawa as leader of the newly formed New Democratic Party. However, much of what he had brought to Saskatchewan had been copied by other Premiers and so had little luster when he took it to Ottawa.

The New Democratic Party has never held power in Canada and likely never will. They do however,on occasion hold “The balance of Power”. They had such occasions back in the 1960 and Canadians benefited by getting Universal Health Care and a pension plan.

While the Canadian system of Health Care could be improved upon, it is still one of the best in the world. You DON”T have to consult with the government on any issues. You choose your doctor. You and your doctor decide what treatment is best for you. The waiting times, while they could be better, are not what you might hear on American TV.

Health care is taken for granted in Canada, because we have it. We pay for it and we use it. If I were to pick one over riding reason not to move to the US it would be Health care and the cost associated with it in the US. In Canada, residence aren’t afraid to see a doctor because of the costs. I never loose sleep worrying about the possibility of anyone in my family getting sick and having to sell or mortgage my home so that we can have the best health care available.

Canadians are much like Americans. We have rich people and we have poor people. We have a middle class struggling every day to meet their mortgage payments and put their children through school. What we don’t have is a populous worried of loosing everything due to a medical catastrophe.

It’s time for America to get it’s head out of the sand. They are so very good at so many things, surely they have the wisdom to put a health care plan in place that will be there for all Americans when they need it.

Canadians are capitalist at heart. We all seek the all mighty dollar. We are not Socialists or Communists …. although we do wear pink underwear when we visit our doctor.

Mr.Obama, let me introduce you to Canada’s greatest politician;

 Tommy Douglas.

Thanks Tommy and may you rest in peace. Job well done!

1 Comment

  • Carol says:

    Tommy's "my boy" .. :).. and my favourite Tommy Douglas quote is:

    "Courage, my friends; 'tis not too late to build a better world."