The Political History Group, a committee affiliated with the Canadian Historical Association, is pleased to offer the 2012 prize for the best article in Canadian political history to Gregory P. Marchildon and Klaartje Schrijvers. Their study Physician Resistance and the Forging of Public Healthcare: A Comparative Analysis of the Doctors’ Strikes in Canada and Belgium in the 1960s was published in Medical History 55 p.203-222 (2011).
In their carefully researched article on mid-century health care reforms in Canada and Belgium, Marchildon and Schrijvers convincingly demonstrate how much the tools of comparative analysis can bring to our understanding of Canadian political history. By examining a familiar Canadian episode – the doctors’ strike in Saskatchewan that paved the way for first provincial and then national universal health insurance – within the context of similar global events, the authors are able to enrich our understanding of state formation. Using an approach that is both comparative in geography and in theme, combining as it does both medical and political history in Canada and Belgium, this article extends the narrow boundaries of all the areas under consideration. Focusing on medical associations and the interventions of government, Marchildon and Schrijvers ask new questions and approach old debates through a new methodological frame, providing scholars with an excellent model for future research. This is a timely and thoughtful article that clearly reconstructs the activities, rhetoric, and rationale of all central actors involved, while providing a clear, cogent, and comparative assessment.