I won’t put any comment here as I don’t want to disrespect Tommy Douglas. What I will write is this: The actual Greatest Canadian is Terry Fox. Period.

Tommy Douglas ‘father of universal health care’ voted Greatest Canadian
TORONTO (CP) – T.C. (Tommy) Douglas, former Saskatchewan premier, former leader of the federal New Democratic Party and touted as the father of the country’s universal health-care system, has been voted The Greatest Canadian.
The late politician emerged victorious in the public contest initiated by CBC Television this fall and which climaxed in an hour-long prime-time special Monday night. “I feel that Tommy Douglas is getting the recognition he deserves,” declared a jubilant George Stroumboulopoulos, the TV host designated as Douglas’s official advocate. “When we started this campaign in the summer, folks had never even heard of Tommy Douglas.”
Douglas’s victory came at the end of a show in which the other advocates were asked to throw their support, political leadership convention style, to another candidate when theirs was voted off. But it was a moral support only, not affecting the public tally.
Despite an impassioned two-hour debate among designated celebrity advocates for the top 10 contenders, which CBC aired Sunday night, the post-weekend standings remained virtually unchanged.
In second place was one-legged runner Terry Fox, with former prime minister Pierre Trudeau placing third.
The remaining finalists, in order of ranking, were Nobel Prize winner Sir Frederick Banting (co-inventor of insulin), environmentalist and science broadcaster David Suzuki, former PM and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lester Pearson, CBC hockey broadcaster Don Cherry, the country’s founding prime minister Sir John A. Macdonald and, bringing up the rear, telephone pioneer Alexander Graham Bell and hockey great Wayne Gretzky.
A total of 1.2 million votes were cast by the Canadian public via telephone, e-mail or text messaging. Since Saturday, more than 342,000 ballots were turned in before the Sunday midnight voting deadline, according to a CBC spokesperson. The only change triggered by Sunday night’s impassioned TV debate was that both Pearson and Trudeau enjoyed 37 per cent increases in their tallies, the official said.
Executive producer Mark Starowicz said he had high hopes for the enterprise but that it turned out even better than he expected. He insisted there really was a national groundswell of support for the project, that it wasn’t just CBC-induced hype.
“We had 4,000 schools plugged into this entire thing,” Starowicz said. “Practically every school’s got projects, demonstrations. You’ve got the city of London, Ont., mobilizing, Toronto naming Tommy Douglas Day. People got carried away. It’s great.”
Douglas was born in Scotland in 1904 and moved to Canada with his family in 1919. An ordained minister, his first church was in Weyburn, Sask., where he witnessed the suffering caused by the Depression and decided that political action was needed.
He was a member of Parliament from 1935 until 1944, when he became premier of Saskatchewan as leader of the CCF, forerunner to the NDP. He announced the medical insurance plan in 1959.
Liz Jeffrey, director of the McLuhan Global Research Network at the University of Toronto, felt the Greatest Canadian exercise itself was more significant than the outcome. She was also particularly fascinated by the orators’ negative attacks in the final debate.
“All those silver-tongued presenters were far better at the attack ad than they were at presenting the merits of their own candidate.”
Speaking prior to learning the outcome of the voting, Jeffrey said if Douglas won it was because of the symbolism of his chief accomplishment in health care.
“He gets the visionary side of this, of coming up with the idea, at least at a political level,” said Jeffrey. “You can’t blame Tommy Douglas for the health-care crisis.”
She said that was expressed when, during the Sunday debate, Stroumboulopoulos, whipped out his red-white plastic health card and waved it about.
To delirious cheers, Stroumboulopoulos dramatically argued that if Douglas, who died in 1986, were removed from the national equation “you remove the caring, sharing legacy of everything that we value.†.†.you remove this, and this is our most treasured, treasured national characteristic!”
Not surprisingly, Jeffrey said she and her colleagues at U of T’s McLuhan program were rooting for Marshall McLuhan himself but were shocked when the internationally renowned media guru failed to make even the earlier top 50 CBC list.
The series debuted Oct. 18 and aired twice weekly from then on with prime-time specials advocating each of the 10 finalists.
The Final Showdown, the debate special also hosted by Wendy Mesley and Shaun Majumder, was taped Saturday for Sunday night telecast, on a specially built set with a live studio audience. It featured highlights of the various campaigns as well as celebrity guests who helped back up the candidates’ official advocates.
Starowicz dismissed the inclusion of at least two CBC employees on the final 10 list, Cherry and Suzuki.
“It’s a big country. Half of it’s been on the CBC payroll, it seems, anyway,” he replied with a laugh. “Trudeau worked for it once.”
As he watched the boisterous studio audience that gathered for the final weekend debate, the veteran CBC producer was impressed with the energy that was demonstrated.
“I love seeing what you normally don’t think is a typical CBC audience. I mean this was Canada from ordinary suburbs, ordinary places, sports mixed with politics.”
He said that as far as he was concerned, it didn’t matter in the slightest who won, that what was important was that Canadians got engaged on the issue of what values they wished to treasure in their country.
“Unity, diversity, compassion, caring for each other. I mean this is not an American list. There’s nothing Darwinian in this room. I was a very generous list.”
The final standings in CBC-TV’s The Greatest Canadian contest:
1. T.C. Douglas.
2. Terry Fox.
3. Pierre Trudeau.
4. Sir Frederick Banting.
5. David Suzuki.
6. Lester Pearson.
7. Don Cherry.
8. Sir John A. Macdonald.
9. Alexander Graham Bell.
10. Wayne Gretzky.