Manage episode 283862536 series 2825472
It's the 1930s. The world is in the midst of the Great Depression. Stalin's grip on the Soviet Union has tightened, and fascism has come to power in Italy and Germany. The Stock Market Crash hit Canada particularly hard, as most of its trade was with the United States. This affected prices, and in some cases, halted exports completely as nobody could afford to buy. People were struggling with high unemployment, drought crippling agriculture, and lower wages for those who managed to keep their jobs. Discontent soared during this time, leading to calls for the Canadian government to take better care of its citizens instead of just the social elite. This growing sense of populism would ripple across the country with full force.
Enter Tommy Douglas, a middle-aged man working on his PhD. While studying in Chicago, he saw the transient camps which housed nearly 75,000 people, with various institutions doing little to nothing to help these impoverished people. Once wishing to become a Baptist minister, his witnessing of the devastation the crash had caused brought him on a different road. He found himself within the ranks of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, a new democratic socialist movement foiunded with the aim of uniting farmers and labourers, as well as protect their rights and improve their working conditions. From there, Douglas would rise through the ranks of the party to lead the first socialist government in North America, and later begin the process of forming Canada's medicare program. His legacy remains today, and culminated in his naming as the Greatest Canadian in 2004.
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