How Tommy Douglas closed the 1968 federal election debate

Speeches of Tommy Douglas

1968 Federal Election Debate

“These are troubled times in which we live. The world around us is wracked with dissension and violence. Here in Canada so far we have escaped these dangers, but all of us are concerned about our country and its future. We’re concerned because of the danger of disintegration from within and the threat of absorption from without. 

We’re disturbed because Canadians in some regions have less social and economic opportunities than those in others. We’re disturbed because our economy is not expanding fast enough to find jobs for all our people, and because some half a million Canadians live below the poverty line. We’re disturbed because rising living costs and inadequate housing is bringing frustration and resentment into our lives. We’re disturbed because thousands of our farmers and fisherman are caught in an economic squeeze.

But things don’t have to be this way. The answer lies in a strong federal government capable of initiating programs to cope effectively with these problems. I believe this can be done without violating the traditional linguistic and cultural rights of the French-speaking community. I believe that we can marshal the human and material and financial resources of this country to eradicate poverty, inequality, and insecurity.

But to do this we must be prepared to revise our scale of values. Cooperation must take precedence over competition. People before profits. Planning before drifting. I believe in this country, its people, and its future. With our vast resources, with our technical know-how, we can make this a land where every child will have enough to eat; where every young person capable of absorbing an education will be able to get one; where every person who wants to work can find a job, and where every family who wants a home will be able to own one; a land where our old people can live out their days in dignity and security, and where our young people can live useful and meaningful lives.

As Canadians, you and I can strive for nothing better. And surely, we should settle for nothing less.”

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