Are there Liberals in Saskatchewan?!?!

CBC’s Tommy Douglas movie frustrates some Saskatchewan Liberals
REGINA (CP) – The CBC’s cinematic tribute to medicare founder Tommy Douglas has ruffled Liberal feathers in Saskatchewan and has at least one historian shaking his head in disapproval.
The television movie Prairie Giant: The Tommy Douglas Story has been lauded for shedding light on an overlooked Canadian political icon.
But those familiar with the life of former Saskatchewan premier James (Jimmie) Gardiner – Douglas’s adversary in the movie – say his portrayal as arrogant, self-centred and vindictive was way off.
“I think it is a shame that they found it necessary to create a kind of blackguard to contrast with the white knight of Tommy Douglas,” said David Smith, the retired University of Saskatchewan professor who co-wrote Gardiner’s biography.
“I just think it was a very unfortunate or distorted view of the man.”
Douglas, a New Democrat, and Gardiner, a Liberal, both enjoyed distinguished political careers in Saskatchewan and Ottawa.
As leader of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, Douglas was a five-term premier of the province before leaving to become the first federal leader of the NDP.
He is best remembered as the father of medicare.
Gardiner was elected twice as Saskatchewan premier, first in 1926 and again in 1934. Federally, he held the agriculture portfolio for a record 22 years.
Saskatchewan’s Gardiner Dam on Lake Diefenbaker is named after him.
When it came to politics, Gardiner was a passionate voice for the West and for agriculture, Smith said. He was hard-nosed and not always easy to get along with, but wasn’t boorish the way the movie seemed to portray him.
“He’s portrayed in the movie as almost thuggish,” Smith said. “I think it’s wrong to depict him like that.”
He takes particular issue with Gardiner shown drinking in the film.
“He was one of the founders of the United Church of Canada and he, to my knowledge, was a teetotaller,” Smith said. “Never, never, never.”
Retired Liberal senator Herb Sparrow, who knew Gardiner, said he liked the movie, but didn’t like how Gardiner was portrayed.
“Jimmie would have been disappointed in the way he came off,” he said. “It didn’t portray any of the good points that he had.”
Sparrow said when it comes to ranking Saskatchewan politicians he would put Gardiner up there with Douglas and former Tory prime minister John Diefenbaker.
David Karwacki, the current Saskatchewan Liberal leader, compared Gardiner to Ralph Goodale in that they were strong western voices in Liberal governments.
“From 1900 to 1950 the Liberals really built the province of Saskatchewan, from Walter Scott to Jimmie Gardiner,” Karwacki said.
“I think the movie might have been a little rough on Jimmie Gardiner.”
Kevin DeWalt, executive producer of the film, said there was no intention to vilify Gardiner and his character was based on extensive research.
“We feel very confident that we portrayed the times accurately,” DeWalt said. “Clearly we have done some fictionalization and compressed some characters into Jimmie Gardiner, but that’s something that we have stated right from Day 1 that we were doing,”
That’s not the way Regina lawyer Garrett Wilson sees it.
Wilson is a longtime active member of the Liberal party in Saskatchewan and also knew Gardiner personally.
“He was a great Canadian – great western Canadian – and I was never a particular fan of him politically,” Wilson said.
“I understand that you’d have to dramatize things a little bit to do this stuff, but I think they went far, far too far.”