Released on November 30, 2004Amidst a "who's who" list of Canadian activists, doctors and scientists, heroes, and political leaders, Thomas Clement Douglas was honoured as Canada's 'Greatest Canadian'.
CBC television debuted the 'Greatest Canadian' contest on October 18th, with celebrity advocates presenting viewers with hour-long segments on each of the Top 10 candidates over a period of 6 weeks. Each segment touched the hearts and minds of people right across the country but in the end it was the inspiration, accomplishments and legacy of Tommy Douglas that resonated most with Canadians.
"The people of Saskatchewan should feel a special sense of pride today with their former Premier garnering such coveted national recognition," Premier Lorne Calvert said. "Tommy's win as The Greatest Canadian supports the notion that Canada, and indeed the world, could use a little more Saskatchewan."
Douglas was born in 1904, moved to Canada with his family in 1910, and became a church minister who was influenced by the social gospel movement. Shortly after the start of the Depression, he became a social activist, and joined the CCF party. He went on to lead both the Saskatchewan and Canadian CCF/NDP, and between federal and provincial politics, served 44 years as an elected representative. Douglas served as Premier of Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1961. He died of cancer in 1986 at the age of 81.
"All of the top 100 Canadians had impressive qualities. It was Tommy's undeniable charm and socially progressive values that helped vault him to top spot in the CBC contest," Calvert said. "A highly-skilled orator with an insatiable wit, he will long be known for a host of significant accomplishments in areas such as human rights, universal health care, the creation of publicly owned utility Crowns and the rights of working people, but it is his government's work on rural electrification in Saskatchewan that Tommy was most proud of."
More information on The Greatest Canadian Contest is available online at www.cbc.ca/greatest/.
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