On democracy and carrying out the people's mandate

Speeches of Tommy Douglas

1945

Big business and the federal government were bitterly opposed to the CCF's Farm Security Act, the centrepiece of Tommy's election platform the year before. With Ottawa threatening to disallow the legislation, Tommy fought back with a stirring call for government that serves the interests of people, not wealth:

Let me here issue a word of warning to those that are moving Heaven and Earth to have this legislation disallowed. I want to tell them that they are not dealing in this case with a government of tired old men, who are merely holding onto power for the spoils of office, or with the hope of finding a final resting place in the senate. They’re dealing with a government fresh from the people, with a mandate to carry out the people’s wishes. Those wishes will be carried out. If these vested interests succeed in persuading the federal government to disallow this legislation, we still have other resources at our disposal. And we will not hesitate to use them.
We were elected to protect the homes and the security of our people. We will use every legitimate method which we possess to attain that end. These governments who want the present legislation destroyed may well find that what will take its place will be even less palatable than that to which they now object. If they insist upon this arbitrary and highhanded method, they may find that what they get will be even worse than what they have now.

My object in speaking to you tonight is to let you know that the government is not prepared to retreat one single inch. The one thing we must know however is that the people of this province are behind us in our determination to fight this invasion of our democratic right by the financial barons.

The legislation in question has not yet been disallowed. We still have three weeks. Three weeks in which to write to your members of Parliament, three weeks in which to send resolutions from municipal council, city council, and various farmer, labour and businessmen’s organizations. We have three weeks in which to let the Federal Government know that the people of Saskatchewan will not take lying down the despotic interference of democratic government.

This is no time for fair-weather friends and sunshine soldiers. This is a time for men and women of all political parties, races and creeds to stand shoulder to shoulder in defence of their democratic rights, to elect governments to do their will without interference from any corporation, no matter how large or how powerful.

In the past few years a conviction has been growing that governments are always on the side of concentrated wealth and against the common man. This belief has not been without some foundation. The time has come for Saskatchewan to express itself, vigorously and vehemently, against such indignation of democracy. We are prepared to lead that fight, if you are prepared to follow us into battle.

The Saskatchewan Government was elected by the people of this province. We were not elected to protect the interests of special privilege. We were not elected to become puppets of those who sit in high places and pull the strings. We were elected to give our people security in their homes, to give them reliable protection in their dealings with powerful corporations, and we were elected to see to it that those same corporations should make some financial contribution to a higher standard of social services.

Our objectives have not changed. We are still determined to do the things we were elected to do. We are neither surprised nor dismayed by the attempts of these powerful interests to resist progressive change. The fight to preserve democracy across the sea has just finished – the fight to make democracy a reality at home is just beginning.

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