Former Elmwood-Transcona MP Bill Blaikie dies

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Former MP for Elmwood-Transcona Bill Blaikie dies

Bill Blaikie had a 32-year political career, mostly at the federal level. (archives)

Former NDP MP and MPP Bill Blaikie, whose political career spanned more than three decades, has died in 71 years old.

He passed away at his Winnipeg home on Saturday, Sept. 24, surrounded by loved ones, according to a social media post made by his family.

It is difficult to express in words our grief, but also our gratitude for all the love, wisdom and pleasure he gave us all these years, writes the family .

Former Manitoba NDP MP and MPP Bill Blaikie, March 15, 2007.

Bill Blaikie was first elected in what was then the riding of Winnipeg-Birds Hill in 1979. The name of the riding changed twice during his tenure, to Winnipeg-Transcona in 1988 and finally to Elmwood-Transcona in 2004.

While in Ottawa, Bill Blaikie sought to become leader of the federal NDP, but was defeated by Jack Layton in 2003.

In 1984, he forced Health Minister Monique Bégin to pass the Canada Health Act to deal with the crisis of overcharging doctors.

This practice threatened the universal health insurance. Thus, the law provides deductions from federal health transfers to the provinces for each dollar of overbilling, which has had the intended effect for Medicare protection.

As spokesman for External Affairs, in the late 1980s, he also called on Canada to end the testing of US cruise missiles passing over its territory.

In 2008, Bill Blaikie quit federal politics despite not running for federal office.

L' following year he entered provincial politics. He won the Elmwood seat for the NDP in a by-election.

The government of Manitoba was then led by the New Democratic Party. Prime Minister Greg Selinger appointed him as Minister of Conservation and House Leader until the end of his political career in 2011.

During his tenure, Bill Blaikie played a significant role in bringing five provincial parks to life in Manitoba. In 2011, Greg Selinger noted that Mr. Blaikie has also done much to ensure the protection of the boreal forest east of Lake Winnipeg.

In 2012, Nature Manitoba awarded him the Prairie Crocus Award for this achievement.

Upon his retirement from politics, Bill Blaikie taught theology at the; University of Winnipeg. In 2011, he published a book on the relationship between spirituality and politics titled The Blaikie Report – An Insider's Look at Faith and Politics.

Before entering politics, he was an employee of Canadian National from 1969 to 1974. He earned a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies from the University of Winnipeg.

In 1978, he was inducted as a minister of the United Church.

Bill Blaikie was inducted into the Order of Canada in February 2021 as a great defender of democracy and social justice, we read on the Governor General's website.

His legacy speaks for itself, it's a living legacy, former Liberal cabinet minister and former University of Winnipeg president Lloyd Axworthy said Friday, shortly after Bill Blaikie announced that he was entering hospice care.

He was a firm believer in social democracy, he was an advocate of the social gospel, added Mr Axworthy who was elected MP for the first time with Bill Blaikie in 1979.

He was also a very good guy who you could easily get along with and is also a good person [… ] who were easy to isolate and chat with, Mr. Axworthy pointed out.

For his part, political analyst Roger Turenne qualifies Bill Blaikie as a man of complete integrity, committed to his community, adding that the latter put forward the aspect and social community of the region he represented.

For Mr. Turenne, the former NDP MP was a pragmatic leftist [who was] very aware of the limits of power and the need to collaborate with other parties.

“He was a leftist intellectual leader and a man of great integrity. An example for all politicians. »

—Roger Turenne, political analyst

Roger Turenne also underlines how much Mr. Blaikie was highly respected by his colleagues.

Former Dean of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Winnipeg, James Christie, explained that he saw in him a personality who had enormous political and religious insight.

On Friday, Mr. Christie told CBC that Bill Blaikie's ability to stand out during his time at university stemmed from his engaging personality.

Bill could tell a story that led to another story and another, and we could sit and just talk, and in my case, mostly listen.

With the information by Laïssa Pamou, Alana Cole and Donna Lee

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