| The Right Honourable|
Kieran Douglas Pearson
|12th Prime Minister of Kelssek|
|In office||June 15, 1952 - September 9, 1964|
|Born|| October 20, 1904|
Redswyth, Noua Cymru
|Party||Socialist Party of Kelssek|
Kieran Douglas Pearson (October 20, 1904 – February 24, 1986) was the 12th Prime Minister of Kelssek from 1952 to 1964, and is widely considered the most important Prime Minister in Kelssek's history. He is remembered for his achievements which brought universal education, free and universal healthcare, economic development and growth which vastly reduced unemployment and poverty, and as the man who modernised Kelssek.
Born in Redswyth, Pearson was also leader of the Socialist Party of Kelssek and had studied to become a minister at a theological college in Brandon, Etnier before becoming involved in politics. His association with the social gospel movement attracted him to socialism while at the St. David Theological College, and after he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of Etnier. He was initially an ordained minister and worked in a church in Mazinaw, where he witnessed the extreme poverty most of the congregants lived in. Things were only marginally better than they had been pre-revolution and the economy had stalled and fallen into a depression, which combined with a drought, leaving millions unemployed and poor. He struggled to keep their faith alive in the face of misery and hardship before deciding he could do more for them through politics.
Premier of Conroy
Pearson ran for the leadership of the Conroy Workers' Party uncontested in a rather empty political landscape, and winning the 1942 provincial elections in Conroy was relatively simple for Pearson, who fired up the many disenchanted voters who had given up on politics, feeling that none of the politicians were able to truly represent them. His oratorical flair proved inspirational and his Conroy Workers' Party won a stunning 76% majority.
His first and biggest initative was public healthcare. As a Minister, he had held many services for people young and old who died because they were unable to afford healthcare. In spite of opposition from some doctors' groups he created a universal health insurance scheme to offer free hospital care to all residents. He also greatly expanded infrastructure in order to connect remote areas of the province, and created many cooperatives and state enterprises to offer "public interest alternatives". Another groundbreaking initiative was a Bill of Rights which protected the infringement of civil and political liberties not against abuse not only by the state and its agents, but also on the part of powerful private institutions and persons.
Pearson was convinced to go to the federal level after winning five consecutive terms in Conroy. Becoming leader of the federal Socialist Party, he won a majority government in 1952. The Conservative Jordan Lester had died in office and his designated successor, Clive Thatcher, lasted only 12 days before he lost a confidence vote in the House of Commons when he added huge cuts in welfare spending to his late predecessor's budget, following an ill-advised diatribe in which he accused the poor of being lazy and declared the nation was gripped by a sense of complacency, entitlement, and government dependence just as record unemployment levels, widely blamed on Lester's economic policies, were announced. The budget failed miserably as half of his caucus defied party discipline to vote against it, bringing down the government.
The Medicare system of Conroy was soon adapted for all the provinces. Pearson also declared that the benefits of economic growth should "trickle up", and he slashed income taxes for the poor and middle-class groups while raising them for the rich. He set up the Ministry of Cooperatives to administer his introduction of banking and food cooperatives, as well as many new publicly-owned enterprises which included the National Insurance company which initially offered auto insurance but soon expanded into other offerings. These efforts made food available at low prices to millions of poverty-stricken Kelssekians, especially in rural areas, and free insurance against major personal catastrophes.
Pearson also sought managed economic development. Through the nationalised utility companies, he spent millions on developing infrastructure and by starting new state enterprises such as Kelssek National Motors and the Celestar Aircraft Company. Unemployed workers were given first priority and technical experts from other countries were brought in to train them. Although all this spending deepened the federal deficit Pearson had inherited, by the end of his first term, Pearson had reversed the economic decline and reduced unemployment dramtically. In the 1956 elections, Pearson's government was re-elected in a landslide.
Pearson's second term was focused on ensuring the sustainability of this growth. It was marked by large investments in education, which also led to a "university boom" as Pearson handed out grants to provincial governments to establish universities, although his primary goal was for universal primary and secondary education in Kelssek. In 1957 Pearson doubled corporate taxes and simultaenously banned the export of money in sums greater than $100,000. His government also passed laws which gave labour unions greater power to strike and which forbade the firing of strikers, moves which infuriated business interests. Coming under fire for being anti-business, Pearson responded,
"I am pro-people, and if that means I must be anti-business, then no hard feelings, but it's just business."
Some large companies initially refused to pay the higher tax and threatened a mass lock-out of workers, but after several prominent executives were put in jail for tax evasion, they capitulated. Pearson also encouraged workers to buy shares in their employer, seeing it as a way to ensure both socialist ownership and incentive for work, and in July 1958 the workers' union of Celestar Aircraft took a majority share in their own company, the first in a series of worker takeovers which continued well into the 1960s.
With over a billion dollars in new revenue, Pearson pushed ahead with his social initiatives. Medicare was expanded, and he created a federal education fund to distribute money to provinces to build new primary and secondary schools, especially in remote areas, and to renovate and upgrade existing ones. An extensive housing program was launched to provide low-cost housing; in spite of economic recovery many people still had not been able to afford housing because of high property prices and a shantytown had sprung up in Kirkenes. He also began the slow process of paying off the $4 billion federal debt.
Pearson was re-elected for a third term in 1960. In his third term, he finally was able to make Medicare comprehensive and universal. With the effects of his earlier policies being seen in the expanding GDP accompanied by unprecendented levels of equality as well as umemployment falling to negligible levels, Pearson was able to fully pay off the federal debt in 1963. While there had been some failed state enterprises like the Pan-Kelssek Steel Company, on the whole Pearson's efforts to develop production, industry, education, healthcare and workers' rights had resulted in a high standard of living, and importantly to Pearson, a standard which almost all the people were achieving. He announced he would not run for a fourth term and retired when Parliament was dissolved for the 1964 elections.
Retirement and legacy
Pearson spent his retirement quietly with one exception - breaking with tradition to publicly criticise a successor, Lucas Engfehr, over the 1968 riots, "destroying in 12 months what I worked 12 years to build". In 1971, he was made a Knight-Companion of the Order of the Maple Leaves, the most prestigious civillian honour in Kelssek, for his career of public service.
While his legacy in the modernisation of Kelssek and the creation of the socialist institutions which survive to the present day are undoubtedly the reason he is remembered as one of the greatest Prime Ministers of all time, Medicare is what he is particularly remembered for, and indeed it has become an almost untouchable institution in Kelssek. His legacy in the provision of universal education is also widely recognised for the long-term impact it had in creating an educated society and a developed economy.
Pearson died at the age of 81 from cancer on February 24, 1986, prompting intense national mourning. Almost two decades after his death in 2004, he was voted "The Greatest Kelssekian" in a nationally televised contest between some of Kelssek's most famous and revered personalities and historical figures.