chretienMy first chat on Parliament Hill was with Doug Fisher, then an NDP member, now an Ottawa journalist. It was a difficult conversation because he knew little more French than I knew English, but it was a pleasant encounter. I had introduction to Fisher from Fernand D. Lavergne, who admired him as the guy who had defeated C.D. Howe in Port Arthur, and Fisher took me to the House of Commons.“You’ll be sitting there,” he said pointing to the back row. “Yes,” I replied, “but someday I’ll be there.” I pointed to the front bench. Then Fisher gave me some good advice. “The guys who go to the front bench are the ones who work.” “Don’t worry,” I said. “I will work.”

– Jean Chrétien, Straight From The Heart


Who are the best speakers in the House of Commons in the opinion of their fellow members? PM Diefenbaker, Paul Martin and Douglas Fisher are the choices.




Fisher has been the “Dean of the Parliamentary Press Gallery” for decades because he is so goddamn wise, and because of his unique background. He was a school teacher in what is now Thunder Bay, and under the socialist CCF (now the New Democratic Party) he astoundingly beat the famous C.D. Howe, Ottawa’s “minister of everything.”

– Allan Fotheringham



Representatives of both Liberal and Conservative parties have approached Fisher to try to switch his political allegiance. Despite his frequent and unfriendly jabs at them, Prime Minister Diefenbaker and Liberal leader Lester Pearson have each privately congratulated him on the quality of his contribution to House debates. In a Canadian Press poll conducted last year among MPs, Fisher and Diefenbaker tied for top place as the chamber’s most effective debaters.

– Peter C. Newman



In 1957, Fisher defeated C.D. Howe in one of the greatest political upsets ever. But sometimes Doug the Giant Slayer put his big foot in his big mouth and that endeared him to me. Fisher, the rising star of Canadian socialism, told a 1961 conference organized by young Brian Mulroney that French Canadian culture was really only hockey player Rocket Richard and famed stripper Lilli St. Cyr.

– Larry Zolf


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