Passing the Torch









Dear friends, 

Yesterday, I chaired a board meeting of the Douglas Coldwell Layton Foundation for the very last time. As I had announced at the AGM in June, after six years, it was time for me to move on and allow other people to carry Tommy’s charity towards the next chapter.

It was an honor and a privilege to follow in the footsteps of Tommy Douglas, the first President of our Foundation, created in 1971. When I became President in 2016, there was a clear need to revitalize and modernize the organization.  It wasn’t easy. The DCF had become a small outfit with limited output and little recognition outside of a limited circle.

This wasn’t the vision Tommy had for his charity. His dream was to build an independent,  progressive charitable think tank, unbound to any other organization or political party. His goal was to "provoke discussion…to keep the movements on the left-whether the co-operative movement, the trade union movement or the political movement- from getting in a rut."

The Foundation was awarding grants and scholarships across the country, but despite having been strengthened in 1987 through a merger with the Woodsworth Memorial Foundation, it was no longer growing. It was doing good work. But it was not reaching its full potential.

That had to change. So we embarked on a process to make the Foundation a more effective source of civic education and support in these times of rampant inequality. We had to grow our capacity for more original research and provide greater access to education by diversifying our reach. We had to do more to protect and promote the legacy of our founders M.J Coldwell, T.C. Douglas and J.S. Woodsworth and their contributions to the Canadian fabric.

And so we did. There were many challenges. A pandemic that slowed everything down. It wasn’t easy. But we are getting the job done. We increased our fundraising. We hired our first full time Executive Director. We renewed our partnerships with post-secondary education institutions, re-launching the Tommy Douglas Graduate Scholarship at the University of Regina. We welcomed Jack Layton’s legacy within our Foundation. We launched the Alexa McDonough’s Women Leadership Center. We published our first original, peer-reviewed research report on the timely and important subject of mental health and wellness in the workplace. And we celebrated - and still are celebrating - with our 50th anniversary reception and dinner in Ottawa this November.

Friends, I am grateful for the opportunity I had to contribute to pursue our founders’ dream and I am thankful to have been asked to stay on the Board as Past President by delegates to the AGM. I am very thankful for the trust and confidence you have placed in me over the past few years. And I am also thankful for the support of current and past board members and staff over the years.

Thanks to your help and contributions, a lot has been accomplished. But a lot more still needs to be done. But fear not, the Foundation is in even better hands now. In its wisdom, the Board of Directors have elected Irene Matthyssen as the new President of the Douglas Coldwell Layton Foundation. I have worked with Irene for years and I know she will bring the same passion and dedication to serve the Foundation and Tommy’s dream as she did to serve her constituents as a Member of Parliament.

Please join me in welcoming Irene as our new President by contributing to the Foundation today.

‘Tis not too late to build a better world.

Karl Bélanger, Past President
Douglas Coldwell Layton

Latest posts

NEW: BC Voter Data by Abacus Data Revealed at DCLF Event

In advance of the event “Trends in Social Democracy” a survey was conducted to test the feelings of BC Voters on issues of concern and solutions offered by Social Democracy as it relates to the upcoming provincial election.

From May 6 to 9, 2024, Abacus Data conducted a survey of 1,000 eligible voters in British Columbia exploring their views on provincial politics and government. 

These are the findings:

Celebrate Women Today and Everyday

Blog Post 


Today is International Women’s Day; a day which I am truly thankful for all the women who have worked tirelessly, past and present, towards a more equitable world where all voices are heard. I take this day to reflect on the women that came before me and the work that we have to continue to do in their honour.

February Newsletter: Gala Highlight Video + Lecture Details and Research

Blog Post 


As promised we’ve got lots of news to share with you this month. The Douglas Coldwell Layton Foundation had a banner year in 2023. We produced more special events, original content, research projects, and educational materials than ever before!

This year we’re building from that success. You’ll see us in more places with more exciting programs for you to participate in throughout the year. All of this growth is thanks to our supporters like you.

We hope you enjoy our update this month.

Take action

Dave Barrett Lecture Video
50th Anniversary Dinner Photos
The Alexa McDonough Lecture
The David Lewis Lecture
Audrey McLaughlin Interview
BC Premier John Horgan's Keynote
50th Anniversary Dinner Highlights
2024 Jack Layton Lecture
2nd Annual Mouseland Gala
Alexa McDonough Womens’ Leadership Centre
Become a Member
Make a Donation
Lecture Series
Help Fund Vital Research

Connect with us