ON this day in 1867, with passage of the British North America Act, the Dominion of Canada was established, uniting its various provinces into one country.

As many will be aware, the influence of Scots in Canada is immense, but very few Scots will recognise the name of Tommy Douglas, born in Falkirk in 1904.

In a TV contest, conducted in 2004, Douglas was crowned “Greatest Canadian” by viewers almost 18 years after his death.

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He was the Saskatchewan Premier between 1944 and 1961 and his number one concern was the creation of Medicare, of which is he is the acknowledged father, which introduced the continent’s first single-payer universal healthcare programme.

Medical insurance reform was introduced in his first term, and he moved the province towards universal Medicare near the end of his last term. Finally launched in Saskatchewan in 1962, the Medicare scheme was later adopted across the rest of Canada.

As we mark Canada’s birthday, let us spare a moment to acknowledge those Scots, such as Tommy Douglas, who have played and continue to play such a major role in that country.

Alex Orr, Edinburgh

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Canal agency struggles with counting queens

WITH some amazement I read that the new section of canal at the Kelpies will be named the Queen Elizabeth II Canal on Wednesday. The monarch’s name in Scotland is simply Queen Elizabeth. Where have “Scottish Canals” been for the last 60 years?

John C Hutchison Fort William WHAT a disaster and what a collection of deluded erstwhile empire fantasists this UK Government/Brexiteers are. I think the reality is beginning to dawn as they find that they are not in a position to tell the continentals what is going to happen. The humiliation of D Davies and May is just the start.

All this romance about plucky UK doing deals across the world without the help of the continentals is a joke.

They seem to forget the last time that happened Britain was bolstered by slavery, the sugar islands and also by countries like India to rape.

The game is over and I do not see the commonwealth stepping up to cement trade deals now or ever.

Graham Noble, Kinlocheil

CONGRATULATIONS to Fergus Ewing for refusing to be badgered and bullied by Gary Robertson, about the CAP payments, this morning on GMS.

If our cultured, educated, well mannered Fergus could find his cojones, perhaps it’s time that our Cabinet secretaries, MSPs, and MPs, as well as any other representatives, could do likewise.

Now I appreciate that our female representatives might feel that they can very well do without such appendages, but I’m sure they’ll get my drift.

Time to take the gloves off, stop being so polite, and bite back.

Morag Lennie Dundee


WHILE I am delighted with the level of support in your recent readers’ letters and mostly agree wholeheartedly, I still feel that there is one huge unanswered question. Yes, we must work harder, positively and visibly but for each of us on the ground, HOW? Obviously there will be meetings, conferences, rallies etc, but sometimes I fear that these can harden the antagonism of some even as they convert others.

We need to begin by being clear about why so many people do not support independence and so I feel we should, at every opportunity, engage those we want to convert by listening first to the reasons for their stance and show that we accept that they are not just being pig-headed. Then we can debate reasonably by explaining our views and evidence of flaws in theirs. In this respect, there is a one-to-one job to be done by all of us. I have had this approach work even in supermarket queues, carrying on into the carpark, with a degree of success.

Our aim individually must be to bring individuals onside. We must first get back those who voted “Yes” but also “Leave”, whose commitment has thereby been weakened. I am convinced that a major element of this must be to expose how the EU has benefitted us and what we will lose, as far too little of this has ever reached the public domain. For example, I travelled Highland single track roads for years, with potholes at the sides joining the ones in the middle, and locals complaining that the government never did anything about them. Few people knew that, before devolution, there was funding available from the EU which could not be claimed because Westminster refused to match it. Now in many places we see new, twin track stretches with signs saying “Funded by Holyrood and the EU”.

And how often has the EU been blamed for an unpopular policy, such as the change to metric? A trader was even jailed for using pounds and ounces! Yet Westminster could have refused to implement this if they had wanted – it was not compulsory, only a proposal that using the same measurements would simplify trade across borders. We could have run both systems in parallel. So easy for Westminster to implement an unpopular policy then blame the EU!

Exposing all the myths and the hidden factors could also help to convert the No/Remainers. But we should also be more willing to highlight the problems that emanate from Westminster which we could avoid if we ran our own affairs – showing up the negative sometimes strengthens the positive. It can defeat the “Yes, but we’re not bad as we are” response. People need to be able to consider all the pros and cons – can they do that if they do not know them?

Does each of us, personally, not have an obligation to use these tactics to bring at least one more person to the cause of independence and the EU?

L McGregor Falkirk

WITH the timescale associated with a new independence vote now having been set out, we should not rise to any further provocation on the independence issue. We should bide our time and get on with (a) the job of competent governance, thus to regain the trust and respect of unaligned voters, and (b) the formulation of rigorous and robust plans for the instruments of an independent Scottish state, by which I mean central bank, Scottish currency, and so on.

A year or two down the road, we must be ready. If, in the interim, the Scottish Government has demonstrated competence, we have firm and detailed plans in place for an independent Scottish state, and we can draw comparison with a – very probably – declining UK state, we will be able to rebuff the scare tactics of our opponents, and this time, succeed.

Ken Gow Banchory