Say the word "hero" and people think of Churchill, Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa. But this Canadian and a majority of the rest of us a few years ago wrote in "Tommy Douglas" as the great Canadian of all time. Outside of this country, few would recognize the name although they would smile to know that he's the grandfather of Kiefer Sutherland.
Tommy Douglas, born in 1904 in Scotland, became premier of Saskatchewan and led the first socialist government in North America in 1944 that developed the introduction of universal medicare legislation for the entire country in 1961.
What inspired him to take this singular path? He injured his leg at ten and would have seen it amputated had not a doctor volunteered to help for free. Tommy saw in this gift that people shouldn't have to depend on the generosity of others for their own health. It is to the benefit of all that all citizens enjoy good health, as much a right as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
To this day, Canadians prize their health care system as one of their crown jewels. For about $53 a month, everyone has the security that medical coverage can give. Losing coverage through losing a job, losing a home to catastrophic medical bills, or being denied coverage for a pre-existing condition are unimaginable concepts north of the border. I'm ashamed to say that we often take it for granted until a topic like this arises.
If doing the greatest good for the greatest number is the criterion, Tommy Douglas is a hero. His dreams have helped tens of millions.