Politician and Socialist.
Born in Scotland, Douglas came to Winnipeg MB at the age of six. After university education in Manitoba and Ontario, he was ordained a Baptist religious minister in 1930.
He entered politics the next year and won his first election in 1935, in the midst of the Great Depression. Thus commenced a political career that spanned more than four decades as an elected representative. He led the first socialist government ever elected in Canada, when the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) party was elected to govern Saskatchewan in 1944.
Douglas served as premier of Saskatchewan for 17 years. In 1961, he stepped down to move back to federal politics as leader of a new political party, an alliance of the CCF and organized labour called the New Democratic Party. But that impressive success is not his claim to fame.
Douglas, using the ideas of Norman Bethune and others, worked tirelessly to establish a national system of health care. He is the only non-medical member of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, for he is known as "The Father of Canadian Healthcare."
He first proposed "medicare" while premier of Saskatchewan in 1959. Medicare was to be a universal, pre-paid, publicly administered system, accepted by both providers and receivers of the medical service. He intended it to provide high quality care, including preventive care. The most recent national health act (1984) continues to uphold these aims. Douglas was almost as instrumental in the establishment of a Canada-wide pension plan.