Letters I: Canadians won’t forget Falkirk-born premier
On this day in 1867, with passage of the British North America Act, the Dominion of Canada was established, uniting its various provinces into one country.
As many will be aware, the influence of Scots in Canada is immense, but very few Scots will recognise the name of Tommy Douglas, born in Falkirk in 1904.
In a TV contest, conducted in 2004, Douglas was crowned “Greatest Canadian” by viewers almost 18 years after his death.
He was the Saskatchewan Premier between 1944 and 1961 and his number one concern was the creation of Medicare, of which is he is the acknowledged father, which introduced the continent’s first single-payer universal healthcare programme.
Medical insurance reform was introduced in his first term, and he moved the province towards universal Medicare near the end of his last term. Finally launched in Saskatchewan in 1962, the Medicare scheme was later adopted across the rest of Canada.
As we mark Canada’s birthday, let us spare a moment to acknowledge those Scots, such as Tommy Douglas, who have played and continue to play such a major role in that country.