NGO Politics 101, Continued – The Douglas-Coldwell Foundation


The Douglas-Coldwell Foundation is a Canadian think tank in Ottawa Ontario, whose moto is to “promote education and research into social democracy.”
It was founded in 1971 and honored with names of two great leaders of Canadian Socialism, Tommy Douglas and Major James William Coldwell (Major was his first name, not a military title.)

The Foundation was inspired by Tommy Douglas, and his words “Courage my friends, ’tis not too late to build a better world” Douglas was the first federal leader of the New Democratic Party from 1961 to 1971, and the first socialist leader of a government on this continent. Douglas by trade was a printer, but made his name as a Baptist preacher in Manitoba. It was as a minister he became friends with J.S. Woodsworth, a Methodist preacher and the future leader of the Co -operative Commonwealth Federation party from 1942 to 1960 (CCF) The CCF was the party of M. J. Coldwell, the other socialist leader which inspired the foundation. The Honourable Major James William Coldwell, PC , CC (December 2, 1888–August 25, 1974), usually known as M.J., was a Canadian socialist politician, and another leader of the CCF. Coldwell had strong ties to unions as an element of socialism in Canada.

Coldwell was a school administrator in Regina, Saskatchewan, and a leader of teacher’s associations from 1924 until 1934. He was a member of city council in Regina and had links with labour and farmers organizations. Tommy Douglas as the Douglas-Coldwell Foundation’s founding President, believed the foundation would be “a gadfly 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.” In 1987, the foundation merged with the Ontario Woodsworth Memorial Foundation of Toronto, named for CCF leader, J. S. Woodsworth.

The foundation has sponsored biographies of Douglas, Coldwell, Clarence Gillis, Stanley Knowles, and Grace MacInnis, scholarships and lectureships at universities and awards. Conferences supported have included Federal NDP Renewal Conferences in 1994 and 1995. The Douglas-Coldwell Foundation provides support for six annual scholarships at various colleges and universities in Canada.

While associated with NDP members, and concerned with the future of the party, it is an independent group with no administrative connection to any political party.
However, to be honest it is as much separate from the NDP as the AEI is from the Republican Party. And although I do not see this as a problem it also has strong ties to its union roots.

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2 thoughts on “NGO Politics 101, Continued – The Douglas-Coldwell Foundation

  1. Very informative, Bill. I have only a hazy knowledge of the CCF party, and couldn’t have told you who Coldwell was.

    I take it the Foundation doesn’t engage directly in research — of the sort poured out on the political right by the Fraser Institute?

  2. The next entry when I have time will be on the UK Fabian society which the Douglas Coldwell society used as a blueprint.

    However the Fabian society is way way more socialist.

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