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Hometown: Saskatchewan
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Journal Archives

Faking History

JANUARY 26, 2016


Singing “The Internationale” today in Ukraine is punishable by up to ten years in prison. The Kiev Rada passed a law in December making it a crime to deny the “criminal nature” of the Soviet regime (1917-1991). From selling a Soviet-era postcard, to membership in the communist party, to singing the Soviet national anthem, the law penalizes all symbols and activities connected to the USSR.

Volodymyr Chemerys calls attention to the law’s violations of human rights in a recent article in CounterPunch:

“History is being invented in vast quantities … it’s more important to have historians, especially skeptical historians, than ever before,” said Eric Hobsbawm in 2002. Dutifully, professionally, as it happens, seventy international historians, experts on Ukraine, wrote an open letter to Petro Poroshenko urging him not to sign into law the bills proposed in April 2015. They wrote:

The potential consequences of both these laws are disturbing. Not only would it be a crime to question the legitimacy of an organization (UPA) that slaughtered tens of thousands of Poles in one of the most heinous acts of ethnic cleansing in the history of Ukraine, but also it would exempt from criticism the OUN, one of the most extreme political groups in Western Ukraine between the wars, and one which collaborated with Nazi Germany at the outset of the Soviet invasion in 1941. It also took part in anti-Jewish pogroms in Ukraine and, in the case of the Melnyk faction, remained allied with the occupation regime throughout the war. . . . Any legal or ‘administrative’ distortion of history is an assault on the most basic purpose of scholarly inquiry: pursuit of truth. Any official attack on historical memory is unjust. Difficult and contentious issues must remain matters of debate. The 1.5 million Ukrainians who died fighting the Nazis in the Red Army are entitled to respect . . .. Those who regard victory over Nazi Germany as a pivotal historical event should neither feel intimidated nor excluded from the nation.

Indeed, historical truth is more urgent than ever. Clearly, raping the past means forcing an illegitimate and unwanted future—one not in the interest of the majority of people.

The new century promises bleak, as Hobsbawm noted:

A tentative forecast: war in the 21st century is not likely to be as murderous as it was in the 20th. But armed violence, creating disproportionate suffering and loss, will remain omnipresent and endemic – occasionally epidemic – in a large part of the world. The prospect of a century of peace is remote. 2002 Counterpunch article

Faking history is a form of burning books. Where books are officially burned, people follow. It’s already happened— on 2 May 2014 in the Hall of Trade Unions in Odessa set on fire by Kiev-junta-related neo-Nazi thugs. Over one hundred people died, including women and children. This was real history and real terrorism happening. The media ignored it.

Full article: http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/01/26/faking-history/

Somehow, I don't believe all those dead children and the many innocent men and

women were ISIS (but I get your point. Sorry, I didn't mean to be rude).

Watch: Drone Pilot Whistleblowers Describe Devastating Impacts of Targeted Kill Program

Published on
Friday, November 20, 2015
byCommon Dreams

Democracy Now! interviews four whistleblowers risking prosecution to speak out against ongoing drone program

byNadia Prupis, staff writer

Four former drone operators who are speaking out against the U.S. military's ongoing targeted killing program—and risking federal prosecution for doing so—appeared on Democracy Now! Friday morning, alongside renowned human rights attorney Jesselyn Radack, for their first extended interview on air.

"We have seen the abuse firsthand, and we are horrified," former Air Force Staff Sgt. Brandon Bryant said at a press conference Thursday.

As Common Dreams reported earlier this week, the Air Force pilots-turned-whistleblowers issued an open letter to President Barack Obama warning that the drone program "is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world."

"We witnessed gross waste, mismanagement, abuses of power, and our country’s leaders lying publicly about the effectiveness of the drone program," the operators wrote in their letter. "We cannot sit silently by and witness tragedies like the attacks in Paris, knowing the devastating effects the drone program has overseas and at home."

Watch their interviews below:



Former Drone Operators Say They Were “Horrified” By Cruelty of Assassination Program

By Murtaza Hussain
Source: The Intercept
November 21, 2015

U.S. drone operators are inflicting heavy civilian casualties and have developed an institutional culture callous to the death of children and other innocents, four former operators said at a press briefing today in New York.

The killings, part of the Obama administration’s targeted assassination program, are aiding terrorist recruitment and thus undermining the program’s goal of eliminating such fighters, the veterans added. Drone operators refer to children as “fun-size terrorists” and liken killing them to “cutting the grass before it grows too long,” said one of the operators, Michael Haas, a former senior airman in the Air Force. Haas also described widespread drug and alcohol abuse, further stating that some operators had flown missions while impaired.

In addition to Haas, the operators are former Air Force Staff Sgt. Brandon Bryant along with former senior airmen Cian Westmoreland and Stephen Lewis. The men have conducted kill missions in many of the major theaters of the post-9/11 war on terror, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“We have seen the abuse firsthand,” said Bryant, “and we are horrified.”

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/former-drone-operators-say-they-were-horrified-by-cruelty-of-assassination-program/

'You Have a Choice': Veterans Call On Drone Operators to Refuse Orders

Posted 19 June 2015 10:18 GMT

Joint statement signed by 45 US military veterans urges drone operators to follow their consciences and say 'no' to surveillance and assassination missions

bySarah Lazare, staff writer

Drone operators at Balad Camp Anaconda, Iraq, August 2007. (Photo: Air Force/public domain)

Dozens of U.S. military veterans released an open letter this week urging drone operators to "refuse to fly missions" or support them in any way—and letting them know that if they say "no" to surveillance and assassination orders, there is a whole community rooting for them.

"At least 6,000 peoples' lives have been unjustly taken by United States drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, the Philippines, Libya and Syria," states the letter, which was organized by the education and advocacy organization KnowDrones.com.

"Those involved in United States drone operations who refuse to participate in drone missions will be acting within accordance of Principle IV of the Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Judgment of the Tribunal, The United Nations 1950," states the letter. "So, yes, you do have a choice—and liability under the law. Choose the moral one. Choose the legal one."

Former drone operators, including Heather Linebaugh, have testified to the horrors inflicted by the remotely operated lethal weapons. This reality is confirmed by civilians and reporters, including the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which tracks the high number of civilian drone killings in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, and Afghanistan.

Full article: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/06/19/you-have-choice-veterans-call-drone-operators-refuse-orders

Reaper Madness: Counterproductive Drone Wars

By Doug Noble
Source: Worldbeyondwar.org
November 10, 2015

Our entire Middle East policy seems to be based on firing drones,” Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told The Intercept. “They’re enamored by the ability of special operations and the CIA to find a guy in the middle of the desert in some shitty little village and drop a bomb on his head and kill him.”

Now government documents leaked to the Intercept show conclusively that the US drone program kills thousands of innocents on bad intelligence and careless targeting while being falsely portrayed as a program of impeccable planning and precision execution. The recently leaked “Drone Papers” reveal the extent of willful ineptitude in US drone operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, which rely on systematically faulty intelligence and astonishing inaccuracies in identifying targets. These revelations only further confirm what many of us already knew about the appalling failure, relentless deception and criminal lethality of the US drone program.

But it’s even worse. Careless execution and public distortion are one thing. If the US were in fact relying on a proven military technology and strategy to defeat terrorists and “keep America safe,” despite setbacks and innocent lives lost, there are those who could justify the cost.

But what is perhaps most insidious of all is the fact that many studies long available to military planners have shown decisively that the use of weaponized drones in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism efforts is both ineffective and counterproductive. Even more, the historical record and recent research shows quite clearly that the “decapitation” strategy driving such drone use – the assassination of high value targets – has itself been both unsuccessful and counterproductive in defeating insurgent or terrorist organizations.

So the drone warriors have known all along it wouldn’t work: that killer drones and kill lists would slaughter thousands of civilians but never defeat terrorists. They’ve known this conclusively from decades of military experience and volumes of research studies. Yet they continue to do it anyway, ever more expansively, ever more mindlessly. Why? Because they can (and because they have no Plan B).

What I’ve tried to show here is something more: that these military miscreants have also known all along that their drone technology and targeting strategy are militarily bankrupt. They could not but be aware from military history and doctrine that these approaches have absolutely no possibility of defeating terrorist groups or keeping America safe. They must know that in fact the opposite is true, that their nefarious enterprise only further endangers us all. And yet they will continue ever more brazenly their Reaper madness, the scholars here all agree, until we find some way to stop them.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/reaper-madness-counterproductive-drone-wars/

Do drone strikes create more terrorists than they kill?

Journalist Glenn Greenwald debates Professor Christine Fair on the effectiveness of the US drone programme.

23 Oct 2015 19:51 GMT


Do drone strikes create more terrorists than they kill?

Journalist Glenn Greenwald debates Professor Christine Fair on the effectiveness of the US drone programme.
23 Oct 2015 19:51 GMT | United States, Afghanistan, War & Conflict, Drones

Nearly 90 percent of people killed by US drone strikes in Afghanistan during a five-month period were civilians. That is according to an investigation of leaked documents, published by The Intercept, called, The Drone Papers.

US President Barack Obama said in May 2013, "Before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured." But, the cache of secret documents suggest strikes are often carried out based on thin evidence and the majority of those killed are not the intended targets.

The government defends the programme, saying it is needed to "act against terrorists who pose a continuing and imminent threat to the American people", but some, including Robert Grenier, the former head of CIA counterterrorism center, argue the US is "creating more enemies than [it is] removing from the battlefield".

So, do drone strikes create more terrorists than they kill? In this week's Arena, Glenn Greenwald, co-founder of The Intercept, debates Georgetown University Associate Professor Christine Fair.


Drones and “what makes us different”

by Joseph Nevins / January 25th, 2016

Seven years ago this month and three days after Barack Obama assumed the presidency on January 20, 2009, the first drone strike of his administration took place–in a small village in the region of Pakistan known as North Waziristan. It targeted the family compound of Faheem Qureshi, fracturing the young teen’s skull and destroying one of his eyes, while killing, among others, two of his uncles and a 21-year-old cousin. The White House’s intended target, it was later revealed, was not, nor had he ever been, present at the site. About ten months later, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced its decision to award Obama the annual Peace Prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

In his speech at the Oslo City Hall upon accepting the prize on December 10, 2009, Obama insisted that “the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war,” suggesting that U.S. war-waging is somehow superior, more ethical, than those of the country’s adversaries. “That is what makes us different from those whom we fight,” he proclaimed. “That is a source of our strength.”

No doubt there are many things that distinguish the United States—not least the enormity of its military budget, and its global network of military bases. But as the documentary Drone (which premiered in the United States and Canada in late November and which includes footage from Obama’s speech) makes painfully clear, it is the U.S. government’s ability to kill at a distance—with impunity and with widespread support, or at least resignation, of the citizenry—that also “makes us different.”

U.S. airstrikes carried out in northeastern Afghanistan between January 2012 and February 2013 (as part of Operation Haymaker), for example, killed more than 200 people, only 35 of whom were the intended targets. During one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets. In Yemen and Somalia, where the U.S. has far more limited intelligence capabilities to confirm the people killed are the intended targets, the equivalent ratios may well be much worse.

Clive Stafford Smith, the director of the London-based human rights organization Reprieve, offers a similar analysis while speaking to a crowd of Pakistanis during the film Drone: “Until America sees your children as they see my children, we will never get justice in the world.”

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2016/01/drones-and-what-makes-us-different/

Saudi Arabia Is Killing Civilians with US Bombs

January 25, 2016

Saudi Arabia has engaged in war crimes, and the United States is aiding and abetting them by providing the Saudis with military assistance. In September 2015, Saudi aircraft killed 135 wedding celebrants in Yemen. The air strikes have killed 2,800 civilians, including 500 children. Human Rights Watch charges that these bombings “have indiscriminately killed and injured civilians.”

This conflict is part of a regional power struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are bombing Yemen in order to defeat the Houthi rebels, who have been resisting government repression for a long time. Iran has been accused of supporting the Houthis, although Iran denies this. Yemen is strategically located on a narrow waterway that links the Gulf of Aden with the Red Sea. Much of the world’s oil passes through this waterway.

A United Nations panel of experts concluded in October 2015 that the Saudi-led coalition had committed “grave violations” of civilians’ human rights. They include indiscriminate attacks; targeting markets, a camp for displaced Yemenis, and humanitarian aid warehouses; and intentionally preventing the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The panel was also concerned that the coalition considered civilian neighborhoods, including Marra and Sadah, as legitimate strike zones. The International Committee of the Red Cross documented 100 attacks on hospitals.

snip ~

In an interesting twist, the Saudis contributed $10 million to the Clinton Foundation before Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State. In 2011, the year after the State Department had documented myriad serious human rights violations by Saudi Arabia, Hillary oversaw a $29 billion sale of advanced fighter jets to the Saudis, declaring it was in our national interest. The deal was “a top priority” for Hillary, according to Andrew Shapiro, an assistant secretary of state. Two months before the deal was clinched, Boeing, manufacturer of one of the fighter jets the Saudis sought to acquire, contributed $900,000 to the Clinton Foundation.

Hillary now says the U.S should pursue “closer strategic cooperation” with Saudi Arabia.

Full article: http://marjoriecohn.com/saudi-arabia-is-killing-civilians-with-us-bombs/

Yemen is being purposefully and systematically destroyed, its people are suffering unimaginably, it's proud history deliberately obliterated ..... while the rest of the world does nothing.


No, it wasn't a joke. But I understand why you need to make it one.

For the same reason we all needed to believe Hussein dumped babies out of incubators and Libyan Gov't troops were using Viagra as a weapon of war to rape women. It never ends .......... these western sponsored bloodbaths are all the same and have been for decades.


German Sociologists on Crimea’s Choice

by Konstanin Kosaretsky / February 11th, 2015

The attitudes of Crimeans were studied in January 2015. This representative sample included 800 respondents living on the peninsula, from all age and social categories. The poll had an error margin of 3.5%.

In answer to the most important question: “Do you endorse Russia’s annexation of Crimea?” 82% of the respondents answered “yes, definitely,” and another 11% – “yes, for the most part.” Only 2% gave an unambiguously negative response, and another 2% offered a relatively negative assessment. Three percent did not specify their position.

We feel that this study fully validates the results of the referendum on reunification with Russia that was held on March 16, 2014. At that time 83% of Crimeans went to the polling stations and almost 97% expressed support for reunification.

Ukrainians continue to question whether this was a credible outcome, but it is now backed up by the data obtained by the Germans. The 82% of the respondents who expressed their full confidence in the results of the Russian election make up the core of the electorate who turned up at the ballot boxes on March 16, 2014.

And now the moment of truth: “What is your opinion of what is being written by the Ukrainian media about Crimea?” Who could be a more objective judge on this issue than the residents of the peninsula themselves? Who else but they – who have been fated to experience all the pros and cons of both Ukrainian and Russian citizenship – could better evaluate the accuracy of the information being published? Perhaps no one.

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/02/german-sociologists-on-crimeas-choice/

"Who could be a more objective judge on this issue than the residents of the peninsula themselves?" Who indeed?

"Did they poll any Tartars?" - "Why yes, they did".

These figures are also relevant in terms of another important question. The former chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars, Mustafa Dzhemilev, has repeatedly stated that all Tatars on the peninsula are opposed to reunification with Russia. Dzhemilev’s statements have been widely quoted by the media, which present them as entirely authoritative and undisputed.

But let’s think about that – Crimean Tatars make up 12% of the Crimean population, yet only 4% of those polled conveyed disapproval of Crimea’s reunification with Russia. And that 4% very likely includes not only Tatars, but also Ukrainians and citizens of other ethnicities. There’s an inconsistency here. Of course, further study is needed on this issue, but the results obtained by GFK cast doubt on whether Mustafa Dzhemilev or the entire Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars is an accurate barometer of the feelings of the Crimean Tatar community.

Those few respondents who disapproved reunification were then asked “Why do you fully or mostly disapprove annexation?” Only 20% of them (i.e., less than 1% of the total sample) claimed that they preferred to live in the state of Ukraine. The most common response, offered by 55% of those who opposed reunification, was “Annexations was not fully legitimate, it should be brought into accord with the international law.” Which means that, in theory, they do not object to the idea of living in Russia, but rather question the legitimacy of the transition.

So. no, Crimea wasn't 'taken' by Russia.

The people voted, overwhelmingly to leave Ukraine. They were immediately threatened by the brutal coup-sponsored 'gov't' with the loss of their native language, what other fears do you think they might have had, a people predominantly of Russian culture suddenly confronted with that kind of hatred and threat???

The fascist right-wingers handed them to Russia on a silver platter ..... they went willingly.

There were picture after pictures of them lined up to vote, ordinary people wanting to get the hell of a place they were being treated as the enemy right from the start of the brutal coup.

Two women hold flags reading "Crimea is with Russia" as people wait for the announcement of preliminary results of today's referendum on Lenin Square in the Crimean capital of SimferopolReuters

Crimea parliament has formally voted to declare independence from Ukraine following an overwhelming outcome from the referendum to secede from Kiev rule and join Russia, according to reports.

A formal application to join Russia was sent after 93% of Crimea residents reportedly voted in favour of the split, in a referendum that the US and the EU say violates the Ukrainian constitution and international law.


With Crimea's electorate composed mostly of ethnic Russians, the referendum was widely expected to support a split from Ukraine. While the Kiev government called the vote illegitimate and other countries saying they won't recognize the outcome, exit polls cited by officials reported that 93% of Crimean voters supported joining the Russian Federation. That number increased to 95% once half of the ballots were counted. As voting concluded, huge crowds gathered in the Crimean capital of Simferopol to celebrate the outcome.

Evgeny Feldman, a staff photographer for the Russian publication Novaya Gazeta, spent the day in Crimea's main cities, Simferopol and Sevastopol, as the vote progressed under the watchful eyes of masked soldiers aligned with Russia.

People celebrate in Lenin Square, in the Crimean capital of Simferopol, after a reported 95% of people voted to make the peninsula a part of Russia.

The crowd celebrates, waving Russian flags, in front of a statue of Lenin in Simferopol.

Local residents, including a police officer, show identification to get their ballots from election commission members in Simferopol.

A woman votes in Simferopol: Little tension could be seen in the voting booths, where most voters appeared to choose to make Crimea a part of Russia.

A Simferopol voter lets her son cast her ballot during the first hour of voting.


by Joshua Tartakovsky, August 16, 2014

In his essay for the New York Review of Books, titled ‘Ukraine, the Edge of Democracy’, historian Timothy Snyder praises Ukrainian democracy which of course does not include the referendum practiced by its ethnic Russian citizens. Written before the Ukrainian presidential elections, Snyder praised in his article the upcoming elections, that eventually saw the victory of oligarch Petro Poroshenko, as a marvelous display of democracy, despite Russian federalist rebels’ alleged and unproven attempt to disrupt them. Although it was clear that Poroshenko, a major oligarch, is likely to win, Snyder sees these elections as a bright new page in Ukrainian history, while not addressing the obvious question of whether the goal of the Maidan protests were to replace one corrupt politician, Viktor Yanukovych, by another. For him, these elections were an event in which "Ukrainians stand up for their rights". Equally significant is the fact that Snyder mentions nowhere in his essay the referendum that took place in Donetsk and Luhansk in East Ukraine just several days earlier, that received, according to British newspaper.

The Independent, a 90% turnout. If one is concerned with democracy, as Snyder claims to be, one would expect him to mention as well the popular referendum in which very large masses participated only a few days earlier. Snyder goes on to argue that in the presidential elections, the separatists’ "only hope to stop elections is intimidation" while not only failing to prove his accusations but also failing to mention that during the referendum in Donetsk and Luhansk, it was the National Guard of the Ukrainian Government that killed at least one civilian, in a crude attempt intimidate residents from voting. A video of the event makes leaves little room for doubt that random citizens were selected and fired at by Ukrainian forces in order to prevent the referendum from taking place.

One should expect at least a mention of these facts, especially when the article is concerned with democracy and the dangers of intimidation yet Snyder apparently deemed these events irrelevant. Snyder wrote that Ukrainian citizens must have elections that are not "imposed by violence" but apparently this does not apply to residents of East Ukraine.

With this in mind, it is not surprising that Snyder said that President Yanukovych "presided over the murder of protesters" while he also disingeniously referred to the Maidan coup as "weeks of peaceful protests". The Telegraph points to growing evidence that hired snipers fired on the protesters, and the violence undertaken by Right Sector at Maidan was raised by congressman Dana Rohrabacher in his questioning] of Victoria Nuland at the US Congress.

While Snyder claims that "Russian propaganda quite effectively shrouds the real issues by shunning political discussion in favor of fantastic stories about a fascist takeover in Kiev", the fact that extremist elements now form part of the Ukrainian Government, has been confirmed by respected voices such as Anatol Lieven.


I'd rather pay my taxes for good health-care for the poorest of the poor as well as everyone else I

know. If the poor are healthy, there's a far greater chance those around them will be also. Our system allows those people to make the trips to see a doctor to remain healthy and treat illness and disease / injury early.

Just a note though on our taxes .... we also get back part of our travel, parking and hotel expenses for medical diagnostic and treatment if we have to go long distances for it, as well as:

The expenses covered for partial re-imbursement:

Payments to medical practitioners, dentists or nurses, or to public or licensed private hospitals in respect of medical or dental services;

Additional costs related to the purchase of non-gluten food products;

Expenses paid for training courses for a tax payer or a related person in respect of the care of a person with a mental or physical impairment, who lives with or is a dependant of the taxpayer;

Cost of purchased or leased products, equipment or devices that provide relief, assistance or treatment for any illness;

Cost of blood coagulation monitors for use by individuals who require anti-coagulation therapy, including pricking devices, lancets and test strips20;

Premiums paid to private health insurance plans;

Expenses incurred after 2013 for specially trained service animals that assist individuals with severe diabetes;

Remuneration for tutoring persons with learning disabilities, or other mental impairments, if the need for
such services is certified by a medical practitioner; and

Reasonable supplemental expenses for the construction or renovation of a residence to enable a person with a serious, prolonged handicap to have access to this residence, to move about therein and to carry out activities of daily living.

For 2014 and later years, the list of eligible medical expenses was expanded to include amounts paid for the design of an individualized therapy plan, where the cost of the therapy itself would be eligible for the credit and certain other conditions are met. In particular, the plan must be designed for an individual who qualifies for the disability tax credit


Think Canadians pay some of highest income taxes in the world? Think again

The OECD, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, reports in its annual Taxing Wages report that Belgium workers had the highest tax burden -- the so-called "tax wedge" -- last year. Their rate stood at 55.8 per cent.

The tax wedge is the difference between what businesses pay to employ a worker, and the net take-home pay of the employee’s after income taxes, employee-plus-employer social security contributions, and minus benefits.

Germany came in second, with a tax burden at 49.3 per cent.

Canada, meanwhile, is ranked 26th among the 31 OECD nations, with a 31.1 per cent tax wedge. The U.S. ranked 25th, with a slightly higher tax wedge of 31.3 per cent.

Across all the OECD nations, the average tax burden on income was 35.9 per cent last year. That’s up from 35.7 per cent in 2012. The report found the tax wedge rose in 21 out of 34 countries, fell in 12, and remained unchanged in one.

In most countries, the increase in the tax wedge was almost entirely due to higher income taxes. But in Canada, higher employee and employer social security contributions (such as to CPP) accounted for virtually all of the increased tax wedge.



Comparison of Canadian and US federal tax rates for 2011

http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75-001-x/2000002/5071-eng.pdf Taxes in Canada and the U.S.:

My Dad only told me he thought he was a good, honest man and his Dad admired him a lot.

He was also a brave man, hated by many, from those in gov't, to doctors themselves ... especially right here in Saskatchewan. He and his family were subject to horrible ridicule in the newspapers, and even a few death threats. But he believed in every word of the speeches he gave - just like Sanders. He saw all around him how people were suffering here in many ways and especially believed in the right of all Canadians "to live with dignity during times of illness and injury".


Remaking Saskatchewan

As the Great Depression tightened its grip on the country, communities like Weyburn suffered tremendously. Tommy Douglas knew that his relief efforts – while important – couldn’t provide a lasting answer to the difficulties families were facing. He buried two young men who died because they couldn’t afford medical care, which only strengthened his belief that he could do more as a politician than from the pulpit.

On June 15, 1944, the CCF – which had never held power in the province – swept to victory under Tommy’s leadership, winning 47 of 53 seats. Saskatchewan had just elected the first social democratic government in North America – and Tommy Douglas began the first of five terms as the province’s Premier.

He faced powerful, wealthy opposition, yet Tommy’s government passed more than 100 bills during that first term. Just two years into their mandate, the CCF had eliminated the sales tax on food and meals and reduced the provincial debt by $20 million. While his opponents tried to tar him as a Communist and radical, the CCF under Tommy Douglas paved roads and brought electrical power (and the modern age) to the family farms of Saskatchewan. They improved health care, increased education spending and expanded the University of Saskatchewan to include a medical college.

Pensioners gained free medical, hospital and dental services; everyone gained free treatment for diseases like cancer, tuberculosis and mental illness. In 1947, Saskatchewan introduced universal access to hospitals for an annual fee of five dollars per person.

The CCF created new government departments such as Labour, Social Welfare and Co-operatives. The cabinet took a 28-per-cent pay cut to help pay the costs. A Crown Corporation Act allowed the creation of provincial air and bus lines; marketing boards for natural resources helped those industries grow and benefit rural communities. And SaskTel offered affordable phone service across Saskatchewan.

But it was Saskatchewan Power that had the biggest impact. In 20 years, the Crown corporation increased the number of rural homes hooked up to electrical power from only 300 to 65,000.

Meanwhile, the CCF improved working conditions, raised the minimum wage, established mandatory holidays, set workers’ compensation standards and set the stage for collective bargaining with the Trade Union Act and the creation of a labour relations board. Over four years, union membership more than doubled.

In just over a decade, the CCF administration – by encouraging economic diversification such as potash mining, steel production and petroleum exploration – oversaw the transformation of the province’s economy. Only one out of every five dollars of wealth created in Saskatchewan in 1944 came from somewhere other than agriculture; that proportion more than tripled by 1957.

But Tommy Douglas and his CCF team were also cautious financial managers. While Tommy wanted passionately to make medical care available to all, it wasn’t until 1959 that he decided Saskatchewan’s finances were healthy enough to sustain it.

He announced a plan that would cover every person in Saskatchewan, offering pre-paid, publicly-administered, high-quality health care. At the time, many doctors and their allies decried his medicare plan as dictatorial and vowed never to accept it; by the mid-1960s, it was such a success that Canada adopted it nationwide.

But by the time medicare was enacted in Saskatchewan in 1962, Tommy Douglas had stepped down as Premier. He wanted to take the success he’d had leading the province to a whole new level.


T.C. Douglas the 'Greatest Canadian'

By KEVIN BERGER of the Weyburn Review / Weyburn Review
May 5, 2014 02:00 AM

For those who knew the former premier, Douglas was clearly deserving of the title.

"He was here in the years of the dust bowl, the Dirty Thirties, and the people were really down and out. Saskatchewan was hurt the worst in the Depression. And Tommy gave them hope," said Glen Rasmussen, who campaigned for Douglas during two elections.

"He could talk to any man and anyone," said Rasmussen. "He had a great sense of humour. He could warm his crowd up with his jokes and he was a terrific storyteller."

Actor and writer John Nolan, who recently portrayed Douglas in the play "Arrows of Desire," was the host of the party in Weyburn.

Nolan chose Douglas as the inspiration for his play after setting out to find a "great Canadian." After researching many Canadian figures, he subjected them to a list of criteria and found that Douglas met them all, in areas such as legacy and determination in the face of opposition. - See more at: http://www.weyburnreview.com/community/tommy-douglas/t-c-douglas-the-greatest-canadian-1.1457605#sthash.0Q504pAj.dpuf
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