By Ron Baker
My mother had a CCF cookbook in her collection. Tattered and torn. Well used.
For those of you who are of a younger age (myself included), CCF stands for Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. As you may be able to tell from the words, this was a political party – now morphed into the NDP.
The name usually attached to the CCF is Tommy Douglas (T.C. Douglas). Shirley Douglas and Keifer Sutherland are names in the family lineage that you may recognize.
Tommy was a Baptist preacher, graduate of Brandon College and McMaster. His day and age were all about surviving – a depression and a war. The poor and oppressed were on his mind. He was a people person.
In Saskatchewan, our history shows a loyalty to this type of social good. One might say that the CCF’s quick rise to power was a sure sign of this. By 1944 they had a majority government in place with only 5 opposition members.
The CCF was avowedly socialist, in a day and age when socialism was considered to be ungodly and anti- capitalist. Tommy Douglas, the Baptist preacher, put the face of God into the party brand, and his drive towards economic stability for all people provided a picture of peace and tranquility.
Not that there weren’t detractors! Universal medicare was a thorn in the side of doctors and administrators.
Utilities that appeared as monopolies, steered by the governing party, were frowned upon.
And then there was the political fundraising done through cookbooks!
My mother swore by the recipes. She was newly married, barely in her twenties and without a lot of cooking experience. The recipes were down- home, kitchen tested, Saskatchewan based. A good Saskatchewan citizen would cry fowl (yes, there were chicken and turkey and other recipes) if this treasure was not on their shelf.
At the same time, the swing to a deeply socialistic approach by the CCF tainted the reception of the cookbook. You were giving your money to “the party.” Some felt guilty and secreted the book in the back of a cupboard. Unexpected visitors of an opposite political stripe would shame you if the muffin recipe were left open on the kitchen counter.
This past week, two friends were standing with me. I mentioned Tommy Douglas to them. One’s father had eagerly sat in church services in Weyburn while Tommy preached. The other’s father had despised Tommy.
Two current friends with opposite pasts.
Communities sometimes need to forget the past, forgive our ancestors and get on with the present – loving our neighbours and serving others. Then there will truly be a future.