The day before the election the Regina Leader Post newspaper stated: “It is just plain stupid to say it does not matter who wins this election where the answer to the question will affect vitally the way of living of every individual, will affect the right to own and use property, will enthrone a stultifying dictatorial system; and may start Canada on the road to strife and devastation that has been followed by European countries which faced the same issue and failed to settle it decisively on the first vote.”
The above quote and most of the information in this blog comes from the book “Dream No Little Dreams: A Biography of the Douglas Government of Saskatchewan, 1944 - 1961” by A.W. Johnson. He wrote it as his Ph.D. dissertation at Harvard in 1963 and it was later rewritten and published as a book. And by the way, the world did not end after that election, Saskatchewan did not become a dictatorship, and we didn't lose the right to own property.
George Santayana said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Many now, I think, have forgotten the past, forgotten some of the roots of this province, the cooperation that took it out of the dark ages of poverty and difficulty and began to bring it to brighter days.
The Regina Manifesto (1933) of the CCF stated in part, “The present order is marked by glaring inequalities of wealth and opportunity, by chaotic waste and instability; and in an age of plenty it condemns the great mass of people to poverty and insecurity. Power has become more and more concentrated into the hands of a small irresponsible minority of financiers and industrialists.” Sound familiar? Sound current?
Johnson was uniquely qualified to write this book because he spent many years in Saskatchewan government working in various capacities. He was able to provide an insider’s view of how government can work.
“Dream No Little Dreams” gives us the roots of the CCF, the social issues that led to its founding, its values and policies, and the people who made it successful. Johnson takes us into the first months of the new government and beyond. The average age of cabinet ministers was forty-six. Of Tommy Douglas, Premier, Johnson writes, “My sense of him – formed from the time I first met him in the late 1930’s as an annual guest preacher in my father’s church, through my sixteen years as an official in his government – was that the essence of Douglas lay in his idealism and in his capacity to inspire others with his sense of mission.”
I've barely started this book and I highly recommend it. It’s not a quick or an easy read, but it’s full of fascinating details of this province’s history. The book is in the public library system, and also available on Amazon if you want to buy it.