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David Orlikow

ORLIKOW, DAVID (1918–1998), Canadian pharmacist, politician, labor activist. Orlikow was born in Winnipeg to Louis Orlikow, founder of the "firmly anti-communist, democratic socialist group" Arbeiter Ring, and Sarah Cherniack. In 1941 he graduated in pharmacy from the University of Manitoba but his passion was for progressive politics. At age 16, David was a guest speaker at a youth group meeting against war and fascism. In 1946 he was hired as Western Canada Secretary of the Jewish Labour Committee of Canada and later served as national director, working to expose racial discrimination. He was also a member and local president of the Officer Employees International Union, secretary of the Manitoba Labour Committee for Human Rights and board member of the John Howard & Elizabeth Fry Society which worked to aid those in prisons.

For 43 unbroken years Orlikow also held electoral office. He was a Winnipeg School trustee (1945–50), Winnipeg alderman (1951–58), CCF/NDP member of the Manitoba Legislature (1958–62), and, finally, for 26 years, the NDP member of the House of Commons for Winnipeg North (1962–88). When he died all parties in the House paid Orlikow tribute, but it fell to Deborah Grey of the Official Opposition (Conservative Alliance) to praise him for "faithfulness to his political roots … in the eastern European tradition."

Orlikow said that both his Jewishness and political views came from his early education at Winnipeg's Yiddish Arbeiter Ring school which rejected Orthodoxy and inspired his "life-long bent toward the secular humanism of the left." His background was "non-Zionist," but the Holocaust compelled him "to do some rethinking." He came to support Israel as a "place of refuge" for Jews denied a home but he was more comfortable when Israel's leadership "was vested in people … grounded in European socialism." Jews in Canada, he hoped, would help build a progressive and welcoming society. He expressed great hope for Canadian multiculturalism.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.