Tommy Douglas is widely hailed as the founder of public health in Canada. Premier of Saskatchewan for more than 20 years, he was voted “Greatest Canadian” of all time by the Canadian TV-viewing public, beating out Alexander Graham Bell (inventor of the telephone), Banting and Best (discoverers of insulin), and of course Jim Carrey (vaccine-fearing nutjob and actor).
Canadian physicians were initially unimpressed and downright mistrustful of the overarching changes Douglas proposed, and indeed, in his own province launched a campaign of misinformation and scare tactics to discredit the proposed programme.
Tommy Douglas was surely no paragon, being a bible-thumping Nazi sympathiser.
But he did help bring about something of which the vast majority of Canadians and Canadian physicians are exceedingly proud. We are a nation which believes that a child getting appendicitis should not mean a family becoming homeless. We are a nation which believes that hospitals trump highways (and it shows). We value this about ourselves and about our country.
Obama is facing a massive amount of criticism from the right wing for trying to introduce universal medical insurance. The Canadian example isn’t the only way: the Dutch are universally covered, as are the British, the Australians, the French….
No system is perfect. But I like ours.
To Mr. Obama: keep pushing. History will remember you well.