May 9, 2011
Vincent Lam is a Canadian-born member of the expatriate Chinese community of Vietnam. He is an emergency physician in Toronto, and lectures at the University of Toronto. He has also worked in international air evacuation and expedition medicine in the Arctic and Antarctic.
His first book, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, won the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize. We met in Ottawa, during a federal election, to talk about his biography of Tommy Douglas, part of Penguin Canada's Extraordinary Canadians series.
Of many interesting observations made during our conversation: two government programs by which Canadians define themselves (old age pensions and universal health care) were introduced during periods of minority government, when the CCF/NDP held the balance of power, and Tommy Douglas's 'socialist' government in Saskatchewan produced balanced or surplus budgets in every one of the seventeen years it was in power.