Manitoba Historical Society
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Presentation: Tommy Douglas: His Manitoba Origins, Education and Connections

by Stuart Houston

When: Wednesday, 13 October 2010, 7:00 PM
Where: Dalnavert Visitors Centre, 61 Carlton Street, Winnipeg

One of the most interesting periods in Canadian history were the years when Tommy Douglas headed North America’s first social democratic government. You’ll be able to find out about those years when Stuart Houston, an acknowledged expert on Douglas, will be speaking at the Dalnavert Visitors Centre on Wednesday, 13 October at 7:00 PM.

The members of the Douglas government, many of whom had never been in government before, got Saskatchewan sorted out from the problems of the Great Depression and Second World War; brought in a complex health care program, North America’s first, and delivered 16 consecutive balanced budgets.

Tommy’s Team: the People Behind the Douglas Years, a new book by Stuart Houston and historian Bill Waiser, offers “an unprecedented look at (more than 30) people who played a significant, and often influential role in his life and career up until he decided to step down as Saskatchewan’s premier in 1961.”

You can learn about “the Winnipeg doctor who saved Tommy’s leg from amputation and provided Douglas with the inspiration for medicare; the Weyburn storekeeper, an ardent Liberal, who opened the way for Tommy to preach at Calgary Baptist Church; the storekeeper’s daughter who turned her back on her family’s Liberal leanings and went to work as Tommy’s executive secretary for nearly four decades; the Japanese-Canadian evacuee who became Tommy’s foremost economic advisor and the son of impoverished Ukrainian immigrants who spearheaded the introduction of medicare in the Swift Current region 16 years before the provincial plan.”

Douglas had an “uncanny knack” for choosing the right person for the task at hand. And he ranged the world to find the right people including a member of one of the UK’s wealthiest families and a world expert on rural health. The diminutive premier had socialist learnings, but he was “both realistic and practical.” He made clear to his experts what he wanted and when – particularly when it came to health care – but he rarely told them how to do their jobs.

Houston received his MD from the University of Manitoba in 1961. He has received numerous awards as an ornithologist and conservationist. He has written 11 books and co-edited the health sector articles for the Encyclopaedia of Saskatchewan, published in 2005.

After the presentation, there will be light refreshments and an opportunity to purchase a copy of Tommy’s Team.

There is no charge but, as seating is limited, please call Carl James at 204-631-5971 to confirm your attendance.

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Page revised: 17 September 2010

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