Bill Blaikie

Bill Blaikie

Infobox CanadianMP
honorific-prefix = The Honourable Reverend
name = William Alexander Blaikie
honorific-suffix =

riding = Elmwood—Transcona
parliament = Canadian
term_start = 2004
term_end =
predecessor = "new riding"
successor =
riding2 = Winnipeg—Transcona
parliament2 = Canadian
term_start2 = 1988
term_end2 = 2004
predecessor2 = "new riding"
successor2 = "riding abolished"
riding3 = Winnipeg—Birds Hill
parliament3 = Canadian
term_start3 = 1979
term_end3 = 1988
predecessor3 = "new riding"
successor3 = "riding abolished"
birth_date = birth date and age |1951|06|19
birth_place = Winnipeg, Manitoba
death_date =
death_place =
party = New Democratic Party
cabinet = Dean of the House of Commons
Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons
spouse = Brenda Blaikie
residence = Winnipeg
profession = Clergyman
religion = United Church of Canada
footnotes =|

William Alexander "Bill" Blaikie, PC (born June 19, 1951) is the current Deputy Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons. He has been a Member of Parliament (MP) since 1979, representing the Winnipeg riding of Elmwood—Transcona and its antecedents as a member of the New Democratic Party. He has the longest continuous record of service of any current member of the House of Commons, [ [ Members of the House of Commons -- Current List -- Years of Service] . Parliament of Canada. Retrieved on 6 December, 2006.] and in this capacity serves as the Dean of the House. He is a member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and has the right to be styled The Honourable for life. Blaikie is not seeking re-election in the 2008 federal election.

Early life and career

Blaikie was born to a working-class family in Winnipeg, Manitoba. His father was employed by Canadian National for over forty years, at first as a machinist and later in management. Blaikie served in The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada from 1967 to 1972, and was a labourer on and off with the Canadian National Railway from 1969 to 1974 while attending University. He was a member of the Young Progressive Conservatives in high school, and joined the NDP in 1971. [Graham Fraser, "Stalwart makes a passionate pitch --- Blaikie says he's the strong leader needed to save medicare", "Toronto Star", 9 November 2002, H4.]

Blaikie has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Religious Studies from the University of Winnipeg (1973), and a Master of Divinity from Emmanuel College, Toronto School of Theology (1977). He was ordained a minister in the United Church of Canada on June 4, 1978, and subsequently became a politician in the social gospel tradition of such figures as J.S. Woodsworth and Stanley Knowles. [Blaikie himself delivered the eulogy at Stanley Knowles's funeral in 1997. See "Knowles bid fond farewell", "Winnipeg Free Press", 13 June 1997, A10. Blaikie explained the linkage between his political and religious views in 2000, writing "As a Christian on the left I would want to argue [...] that there is a vast realm called "the economy," and all the values and practices that it explicitly and implicitly reinforces, that should be judged, in the Christian mind, by whether or not it conforms to the teachings of Jesus Christ, whether any false gods, like the market, are worshipped therein, whether the poor and the oppressed are given priority, and whether, environmentally speaking, creation is being looked after." See Bill Blaikie, "Day's politics versus his faith --- Opposition leader argues from conservative, not biblical principles", "Toronto Star", 2 December 2000, 1.] From 1977 to 1979, he worked for the United Church's inner-city Stella Project in north-end Winnipeg. [Mary Trueman, "Critics call it an excuse for cutbacks", "Globe and Mail", 3 November 1979, P1; Dan Lett, "Voice in the wilderness", "Winnipeg Free Press", 9 June 1996, B1; Francine Dube, "Esteemed MP strictly left-wing", "National Post", 6 June 2002, A11.]


The New Democratic Party has never formed government in Canada, and Blaikie has served his entire parliamentary career as an opposition MP. He has held many important Critic portfolios, and is respected by members of all parties for his personal integrity and conviction. [Bruce Campion-Smith, "Veteran MP set to retire", "Toronto Star", 16 March 2007, A6.]

;Clark, Trudeau and Turner governments

Blaikie was first elected to the House of Commons in the 1979 election, defeating incumbent Progressive Conservative MP Dean Whiteway (who had previously been elected in the riding of Selkirk, which was eliminated by redistribution). The Progressive Conservatives won a minority government under the leadership of Joe Clark, but lost a parliamentary motion of non-confidence later in the year. A new election was held in early 1980, in which the Liberal Party won a majority government under the leadership of Pierre Trudeau. Blaikie was comfortably re-elected in his own riding.

Blaikie was appointed as the NDP's Social Policy Critic in 1979, [Mary Trueman, "Retired judge is appointed to review medicare system", "Globe and Mail", 18 September 1979, P1.] and was promoted to Health Critic in 1980. [Ross Laver, "Restrict MDs' fees, scrap premiums, Ottawa told", "Globe and Mail", 4 September 1980, P1.] He was instrumental in forcing then Minister of Health, Monique Bégin, to bring in the Canada Health Act in 1984, to deal with the crisis that extra-billing by physicians and user fees were causing for medicare. [James Rusk, "Report pleases Conservatives, NDP", "Globe and Mail", 4 September 1980, P10; "Begin may pressure provinces to cut out MDs' extra-billing", "Globe and Mail", 18 March 1981, P1; Charlotte Montgomery, "Begin assails tactics of CMA over new laws for medicare", "Globe and Mail", 18 March 1983, P10; Jean Gray, "Begin fears chain reaction on user fees", "Globe and Mail", 12 May 1983, P8; Charlotte Montgomery, "Ottawa threatens cutbacks in funds over extra-billing", "Globe and Mail", 26 July 1983, P1; Charlotte Montgomery, "NDP plans meeting on medicare issue", "Globe and Mail", 19 August 1983, P3; Charlotte Montgomery, "MDs to seek right to strike if extra-billing banned", "Globe and Mail", 17 February 1984, P3; Jeff Sallot, "Alberta intimidating patients about premiums, Begin says", "Globe and Mail", 30 May 1984, N12.] In her memoirs, Bégin wrote that Blaikie waged "guerilla warfare" against her in the Commons and forced her to act. [Monique Bégin, "L'Assurance Santé", (Montréal: Boréal, 1987), p. 167. See also Graham Fraser, "Stalwart makes a passionate pitch --- Blaikie says he's the strong leader needed to save medicare", "Toronto Star", 9 November 2002, H4.] He also served as caucus chair in 1983-84. ["The Ottawa Scene", "Globe and Mail", 23 June 1984, P5; Francine Dube, "Esteemed MP strictly left-wing", "National Post", 6 June 2002, A11.] [As early as 1980, Blaikie also expressed concern about Canada's media becoming concentrated in increasingly fewer hands. When the Southam newspaper chain shut down the "Winnipeg Tribune" and left the city's newspaper market to the rival "Free Press", he commented that Winnipeggers were now being forced to look at the world "through one eye rather than two", and recommended increased government oversight of the industry. See Ross Laver, "Papers should be licenced, inquiry told", "Globe and Mail", 10 December 1980, P10. He expressed the same concern in 2000, when Thompson Corp. announced that it would sell off all of its holdings except the "Globe and Mail". Blaikie called for limits on the number of newspapers that any chain could own. See Susanne Craig, "Thomson and Globe shift gears: Flagship publication will be centre of information powerhouse", "Globe and Mail", 16 February 2000, A1.]

;Mulroney and Campbell governments

The Progressive Conservatives won a landslide majority government in the 1984 federal election under Brian Mulroney, defeating the Liberals under their new leader John Turner. Blaikie was again returned for his riding, and was appointed as NDP Environment Critic in the next parliament. ["New Tory minister stands firm on cut to wildlife service", "Globe and Mail", 20 November 1984, P5.] He opposed the new government's budget cuts, and was strongly critical of its first Environment Minister, Suzanne Blais-Grenier, saying, "It is clear she does not think about the environment. She thinks about the deficit." [Michael Keating, "Environment budget cuts called a possible danger", "Globe and Mail", 21 December 1984, M5; Michael Keating, "Deficit 'paranoia' is blamed for cut in research financing", "Globe and Mail", 1 February 1985, M4.] He called for Blais-Grenier's resignation in June 1985, after she commented that national parks could be opened to mining and logging. ["NDP environment critic adds voice to calls for Blais-Grenier to resign", "Globe and Mail", 12 June 1985, P8.] In the same year, he brought forward a private member's bill for a three-year moratorium on the construction and export of nuclear power stations, to be followed by a national referendum on any further development. ["Referendum urged", "Globe and Mail", 3 April 1985, M5. Blaikie later called for Canada to stop marketing its nuclear technology abroad, when the government of India conducted successful nuclear weapons tests in 1998. (Canada had inadvertently provided India with the technology used in its first nuclear test in 1974.) See Allan Thompson, "Ottawa bears responsibility, critics say", "Toronto Star", 13 May 1998, A17.]

Blaikie spoke against a bill that proposed the return of capital punishment in 1987, saying that its passage would mark "a step toward not a less violent society, but a more violent society". [Graham Fraser and Hugh Winsor, "Return of death penalty retrograde step, Hnatyshyn says", "Globe and Mail", 26 June 1987, A12.] The bill was defeated. He was also an opponent of Sunday shopping law reform in this period, arguing that it interfered with a community's right to determine common rest times. ["121 stores charged in Sunday opening", "Globe and Mail", 9 December 1986, A19. Blaikie said, "To my mind, Sunday shopping is one of the final victories of capitalism, of Mammon, and the idolatry of commodity fetishism. Our Constitution says that we recognize the supremacy of God. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Sunday shopping, why do we not drop the pretense and rewrite it to read supremacy of the market place?"]

He was promoted to External Affairs Critic in September 1987. [Graham Fraser, "Jewett replaced by NDP as external affairs critic", "Globe and Mail", 14 September 1987, A4.] One of his first major policy statements in this portfolio was to call for Canada to stop allowing American cruise missile tests over its territory. ["Stop testing cruise, opposition MPs urge", "Globe and Mail", 27 October 1987, A5.] He was also critical of Canada's proposed Free Trade Agreement with the United State, and released "A Time To Choose Canada, the New Democrats' Trade Option" with fellow MP Steven Langdon in February 1988. [Peter Cook, "The visionaries of the NDP go backward into the future", "Globe and Mail", 5 February 1988, B2. As may be evident from the article title, Cook was critical of the NDP document.] He also served as co-chairman of the NDP's international affairs committee in this period, and held consultation meetings on whether or not the party should reaffirm its traditional opposition to Canada's membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. [Susan Delacourt, "Few changes expected in NDP's NATO stand after weekend meeting", "Globe and Mail", 1 February 1998, A8.]

Blaikie contemplated running for the leadership of the New Democratic Party of Manitoba in 1988, following the surprise resignation of Howard Pawley. He eventually chose not to run, and did not endorse any other candidate. [Ross Howard, "'Courageous' move called best hope", "Globe and Mail", 10 March 1988, A1; Richard Cleroux and Geoffrey York, "Doer favored to win Manitoba NDP leadership race", "Globe and Mail", 15 March 1988, A4.] He was retained as the NDP's External Affairs Critic after the Progressive Conservatives won a second consecutive majority government in the 1988 federal election, and was also chosen as his party's spokesman for federal-provincial relations and the Constitution. [Tim Harper, "Ottawa looking at improving links to PLO, Clark says", "Toronto Star", 9 March 1989, A1. In this article, Blaikie was quoted as saying, "The sooner Canada catches up on this, the better. Our position is that the PLO should be recognized and anyone who hasn't - Canada, and especially Israel - should come to its senses." See also Susan Delacourt, "Leadership simmers as NDP names critics", "Globe and Mail", 17 January 1989, A4.] He was an international observer during Namibia's transformation to independence in 1989, and for Lithuania's first multi-party elections in early 1990. ["Group of MPs to urge aid for free Namibia", "Globe and Mail", 14 September 1989, N8; "Rae joins Canadian team to monitor Lithuania's poll", "Toronto Star", 16 February 1990, A14; Matthew Fisher, "Europe in Transition", "Globe and Mail", 28 February 1990, A4.]

He was initially rumoured as a candidate in the New Democratic Party's 1989 leadership convention, but he declined to run and instead supported Simon de Jong, whom he described as having the greatest awareness of environmental issues. [Rosemary Speirs, "NDP hopefuls heading for the post", "Toronto Star", 21 January 1989, D5; Tim Harpur, "7 hopefuls emerge as contenders for Ed's job", "Toronto Star", 5 March 1989, A1. Sources indicate that Blaikie was holding off from declaring his candidacy, pending a decision from fellow MP Nelson Riis. See Tim Harper, "Reluctant Riis reconsiders bid for leadership of NDP", "Toronto Star", 12 June 1989, A9. See "Six NDP MPs endorse de Jong for leader", "Globe and Mail", 7 October 1989, A5.] When de Jong was eliminated on the second ballot at a delegated convention, Blaikie moved to the camp of Audrey McLaughlin, the eventual winner. [Alan Freeman, "NDP chooses a leader", "Globe and Mail", 4 December 1989, A10.]

Blaikie was appointed as NDP Taxation Critic in 1990. He opposed the Mulroney government's decision to cut social programs to pay down the deficit, calling instead for a tightening of tax loopholes. ["Personal tax load higher, study says", "Toronto Star", 20 June 1991, B1; "Grasping the deficit nettle", "Winnipeg Free Press", 2 April 1993.] He was given further responsibilities as Transport Critic, and spoke against proposed job cuts in the Canadian National Railway. [Brian Pardoe, "Ex-CN chief recommends job cuts", "Globe and Mail", 6 August 1992, B5.]

;Chrétien government

;;In parliament

Blaikie's closest election victory came in the 1993 federal election, when the Liberal Party under Jean Chrétien defeated the Progressive Conservatives under new leader Kim Campbell to win a majority government. The New Democratic Party was experiencing reduced popularity in this period, due to unpopular decisions from the provincial NDP governments of Bob Rae in Ontario and Michael Harcourt in British Columbia. Blaikie defeated Liberal candidate Art Miki by only 219 votes, as the NDP fell from 44 to 9 seats. Between 1993 and 1997, he was the only New Democratic Party MP to represent a riding east of Saskatchewan. He was appointed as NDP Critic for Foreign Affairs and Trade after the election, and served a second term as caucus chairman from 1993 to 1996. ["Uncertainty swirls around McLaughlin's status with NDP", "Hamilton Spectator", 5 May 1994, A9; Francine Dube, "Esteemed MP strictly left-wing", "National Post", 6 June 2002, A11.]

In early 1994, Blaikie won unanimous support in the House of Commons for his Private Member's Bill calling for the government to officially recognize Canadians who served in the Dieppe Raid in World War II. He initially proposed that a special medal to be struck, but later accepted a Liberal amendment for a "distinctive decoration". ["Dieppe vets to get decoration", "Globe and Mail", 12 April 1994, A1.] He was disappointed with the final result, a simple silver bar to be attached to a ribbon that was awarded to all service personnel in the 1939-43 period. [Nick Martin, "Dieppe vet insulted as feds water down bid for medals", "Winnipeg Free Press", 13 August 1994.] [Blaikie voted against the Chrétien government's gun registry in 1995, arguing that it did not address the real problems of gun-related violence. See Tony Davis, "Gunfight at the Dauphin corral", "Winnipeg Free Press", 15 March 1995; Dan Lett, "Outlaw Grits say no to party's gun bill", "Winnipeg Free Press", 6 April 1995; Aldo Santin, "Senate seen as final hope", "Winnipeg Free Press", 14 June 1995, A9. He strongly opposed the government's decision to sell off CN Rail in the same year. See Linda Quattrin, "Sale of CN Rail lamented", "Winnipeg Free Press", 6 May 1995.]

There were again rumours that Blaikie would run for the NDP leadership in 1995, but he declined and instead threw his support behind Lorne Nystrom. [Susan Delacourt, "NDP plans to redesign the left McLaughlin to give up helm", "Globe and Mail", 19 April 1994, A1; "Race to replace McLaughlin off to quiet start", "Globe and Mail", 10 April 1995, N9. Some party insiders indicated that Blaikie would have been the preferred choice of Audrey McLaughlin and Glen Clark. See Doug Fischer, "Remember the federal NDP?", "Hamilton Spectator", 17 January 1995, A7.] When Nystrom was eliminated at the party's convention, Blaikie shifted his support to the winner, Alexa McDonough. [Shawn McCarthy, "New Democrats pick McDonough", "Toronto Star", 15 October 1995, A1.]

The duties of MPs were shuffled after the leadership convention, and Blaikie was named as the party's House Leader while retaining responsibility for International Trade and adding the Intergovernmental Affairs portfolio. ["McDonough's caucus gets marching orders", "Winnipeg Free Press", 12 January 1996, A12; Terrence Wills, "Costly election campaign: Running 'paper candidates' in Quebec part of party's national commitment, NDP Leader McDonough says", "Kitchener-Waterloo Record", 4 July 1997, A6; "Marchi tries to sell us on treaty", "Toronto Star", 25 October 1997, 1; "Voices", "Toronto Star", 21 August 1998, A6.] He continued to hold these parliamentary roles after the 1997 election, in which the Liberals won a second majority government and the NDP made a partial recovery to 21 seats.

Blaikie was re-elected to a seventh term in the 2000 federal election, as the Liberals won a third majority government under Chrétien. He retained his position as House Leader and Intergovernment Affairs Critic, and gained additional duties as Critic for Parliamentary Reform, Justice and the Solicitor-general. [Valerie Lawton, "Small caucus means NDP members face big workload", "Toronto Star", 23 January 2001, 1.] He played a key role in getting the NDP Caucus to support the Clarity Act in 2000, after securing amendments to the legislation that were important to First Nations in Quebec. ["Congratulations Canada! Clarity Bill Amended to Include Aboriginal Peoples as Political Actors" [press release] , "Canada NewsWire", 14 March 2000, 15:59.] [He also brought forward a motion in February 2001 to prohibit talking on a cellphone while driving, except in cases of emergency. He argued that the use of cellphones by drivers was causing a public safety hazard. See "MP moves to cut off cellphone use in cars", "Globe and Mail", 3 February 2001, A7. The government decided not to pursue the initiative in May 2002, arguing that regulation should remain a provincial matter. See Janice Tibbetts, "Ottawa won't ban cellphones in cars: Up to provinces", "National Post", 13 May 2002, A5.]

;;Ideological views

Blaikie emerged as a prominent critic of economic globalization during the mid-1990s. In 1996, he wrote that new rules governing the World Trade Organization would shift oversight of public policy from elected governments to unelected trade bureaucrats. [Bill Blaikie, "WTO process a threat to democracy" [letter] , "Financial Post", 7 December 1996, 24.] He expressed similar concerns about the Multilateral Agreement on Investment two years later, arguing that it put the rights of investors ahead of workers, environments, societies, and cultures. [Bill Blaikie, "Deal hampers government" [letter] , "Winnipeg Free Press", 14 February 1998, A15. He criticized the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas for similar reasons in 2000. See Allan Thompson, "Trade minister side-steps labour issues", "Toronto Star", 15 June 2000, 1.] He wrote the NDP Minority Report on the MAI, which was published in "Dismantling Democracy", edited by Andrew Jackson and Matthew Sanger.

Blaikie wrote an editorial in 1994 calling for the Bank of Canada to hold a larger portion of the national debt at low interest rates, as it did until the mid-1970s, in order for Canada to reduce its deficit while maintaining its core social programs. [Bill Blaikie, "Change monetary policy" [editorial] , "Winnipeg Free Press", 14 October 1994.] In 1998, he led a national campaign against proposed mergers among Canada's major banks. [Paul Samyn, "NDP hopes to cash in on merger backlash", "Winnipeg Free Press", 24 May 1998, B2.]

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the New Democratic Party was divided into two camps concerning its role on the Canadian political spectrum. Some wanted to take the party into a more centrist direction, similar to Tony Blair's "Third Way" in Britain, while others sought to move in a radical left-wing direction. Blaikie was not closely affiliated with either camp. He opposed Blair's ideological approach on the grounds that it was too close to corporate interests. [Paul Samyn, "NDP wants change, wants to stay the same", "Winnipeg Free Press", 29 August 1999, A7.] He participated in anti-globalization protests in Seattle and Quebec City but also criticized the extra-parliamentary left's tactics, saying that protestors would never bring about economic change without mobilizing in the political sphere. [Frances Russell, "Best of times is worst of times for NDP", "Winnipeg Free Press", 13 July 2001, A10; Bill Blaikie, "NDP must speak from the heart again", "Toronto Star", 15 January 2003, A25.] He opposed the New Politics Initiative at the NDP's 2001 convention, calling instead for a renewal of the existing party organization. [Valerie Lawton, "NDP rejects demands for new left-wing party", "Toronto Star", 25 November 2001, A3.]

;;Leadership campaign

Blaikie was the first declared candidate in the 2003 leadership election. In declaring his candidacy, he said,

::I've heard it said of the NDP that we are too attached to the past, but I tell you that it is our political opponents who are the Jurassic Park of Canadian politics. They would take us back to a meaner time when money was the measure of all things. We stand for the future that was sought and won and which must now be defended and enhanced. ["Blaikie first in NDP race: Manitoba MP going for leadership", "National Post", 18 June 2002, A4.]

Blaikie called for a renewed focus on health care, natural resources and labour standards. [Krista Foss, "NDP leadership candidate aims to heal party wounds", "Globe and Mail", 18 June 2002, A10.] He was seen as a representative of the party's moderate left, fitting ideologically between centrist Lorne Nystrom and the more left-wing Jack Layton. His candidacy was supported by MPs Pat Martin, Judy Wasylycia-Leis, Bev Desjarlais, Wendy Lill, Yvon Godin and Dick Proctor, Manitoba Premier Gary Doer, New Democratic Party of Ontario leader Howard Hampton, and several former MPs including Simon de Jong, Dawn Black, Ian Waddell and Howard McCurdy. [Paul Samyn, "Blaikie revs up campaign", "Winnipeg Free Press", 15 June 2002, A8; "Sask. MP Dick Proctor endorses Winnipeg MP Bill Blaikie for NDP leader", "Canadian Press", 23 August 2002, 20:06; "Hampton supports Blaikie in race for federal NDP leader", "Toronto Star", 3 December 2002, A6; "Bill Blaikie deserves our support" [letter] , "Globe and Mail", 13 December 2002, A25.]

The NDP's 2003 leadership convention was the first to be determined by a partial "one member, one vote" system in which all members of the NDP were eligible to cast ballots. Blaikie placed second to Jack Layton, who subsequently appointed him the party's Deputy Leader. As Layton did not have a seat in the Commons, Blaikie served as the NDP's parliamentary leader until the 2004 election. [Paul Samyn, "Blaikie to lead New Democrats in Parliament", "Winnipeg Free Press", 28 January 2003, A7.] This appointment led to his being sworn in as a member of the Privy Council. He was also named as the NDP's National Defence Critic ["Layton gives Manitobans new jobs in NDP caucus shuffle", "Winnipeg Free Press", 5 February 2003, A8.] , and was front and centre in pushing the Liberals to not participate in the Iraq War, in opposing Canadian participation in ballistic missile defence, and in asking questions about the rules of engagement and changing role of Canadian troops in Afghanistan. [Tonda McCharles, "PM willing to look at missile defence plan", "Toronto Star", 6 May 2003, A3; Mike Trickey, "PM refuses opposition demands to rule out role in war without UN", "National Post", 13 February 2003, 18 February 2003, A3; Mike Blanchfield, "NDP MP urges guidelines on Afghan prisoner swaps", "Ottawa Citizen", 30 September 2005, A5.]

;Martin government

Paul Martin succeeded Jean Chrétien as leader of the Liberal Party and Prime Minister of Canada in December 2003, and called a new election for June 2004. During this election, Blaikie openly opposed Layton's proposal that the Clarity Act be repealed. [Jonathan Fowlie and Steven Chase, "Blaikie disagrees with Layton on Clarity Act", "Globe and Mail", 31 May 2004, A6.] The Liberals were reduced to a minority government, and the NDP increased its representation from 14 to 19 seats. Blaikie continued as Deputy Leader and Defence Critic after after the election, and was also named as Health Critic. ["NDP-Caucus duties", "Broadcast News", 16 July 2004, 10:35; Jeff Sallot, "The questions", "Globe and Mail", 7 October 2004, A1.] Notwithstanding their disagreement over the Clarity Act, Blaikie has said that he enjoyed a good working relationship with Layton in parliament. [Mike De Souza, "NDP's Blaikie will not run in next election", "National Post", 16 March 2007, A6.]

During the period of the Martin government, Blaikie spoke openly about his opposition to the prominent role given to "identity politics" in the modern Canadian left. While he holds socially liberal views on most issues, he has also argued that that the economic needs of working-class and low-income Canadians should be the party's primary concern.

;Harper government

The Conservative Party under Stephen Harper won a minority government in the 2006 federal election. Following the resumption of parliament in April, Blaikie was named as Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons. [Paul Samyn, "Veteran MP Blaikie named deputy speaker", "Winnipeg Free Press", 6 April 2006, A3.] This position largely removes him from the debates of the House, and puts him in the role of a non-partisan overseer.

;Parliamentary reform

Blaikie has long been an advocate for the reform of parliamentary institutions. He served as second vice-chairman of an all-party committee on parliamentary reform in 1985, [George Bain, [editorial] , "Globe and Mail", 27 January 1986, A6.] which among other things made it easier for private member's bills to come to a vote. [Richard Cleroux, "Backbenchers get chance to present views", "Globe and Mail", 29 March 1986, A3.] He took part in another such committee in 1992, which issued a thirty-page report calling for more free votes, reforms to the parliamentary Question Period, and a streamlined process for passing legislation. [Carol Goar, "Patient MPs struggle to change rules of the game", "Toronto Star", 18 August 1992, A17.] He took part in a third such committee in 2001, although he indicated that he was disappointed with its results. [Lisa Schmidt, "Report to modernize parliamentary rules misses true reform: critics", "Canadian Press", 1 June 2001, 16:09.]


On March 15, 2007 Blaikie announced that he would not be a candidate in the next federal election. [ Bill Blaikie not seeking re-election] , Press Release, NDP website, March 15, 2007.] He has accepted a position as adjunct professor of Theology and Politics at the University of Winnipeg, and plans to write a book on the relationship between faith and politics. [Bill Curry, "NDP's Blaikie decides against running again", "Globe and Mail", 16 March 2007, A4; "Manitoba: Blaikie", "Ottawa Citizen", 27 March 2007, A13; Norma Greenaway, "Politics, prayer make quiet bedfellows", "Ottawa Citizen", 5 May 2007, A4.]

Other information

*In 1988, Blaikie and House of Commons Speaker John Fraser organized the first annual Robbie Burns supper on Parliament Hill. Blaikie delivered the ritual address to the haggis, and played a few unscheduled tunes on the bagpipes. [Rosemary Sexton, "MPs, friends celebrate Robbie Burns' birthday", "Globe and Mail", 28 January 1988, A19.]
*In February 2001, parliamentarians were polled on the most effective member of the House of Commons. Blaikie tied for third place with Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. [Heather Sokoloff, "MPs pick Clark as most effective legislator", "National Post", 14 February 2001, A13.]
*On November 21, 2007, Blaikie was given the Maclean's award for Best Parliamentarian of the Year, as voted by his peers. ["MP Bill Blaikie honoured as Canada's "Parliamentarian of the Year" in Ottawa", "Canada NewsWire", 21 November 2007, 20:00.]
*Blaikie's daughter, Rebecca Blaikie, was the New Democratic Party candidate for LaSalle—Émard in the 2004 federal election. She is now executive director of the party's Quebec wing, and was one of the architects of Thomas Mulcair's historic victory in a 2007 Outremont by-election. [Joe Paraskevas, "'Toban making waves in Quebec politics", "Winnipeg Free Press", 17 September 2007, A5.]

External links

* [ Official site]
* [ How'd They Vote?: Bill Blaikie's voting history and quotes]
* [ Political Biography from the Library of Parliament]
* [ Video Blaikie interview on CBC's The Hour]

elected published works

*"World Trade Organization spurns workers' rights", "Canadian Dimension", 13 March 1997, Vol. 31, No. 2.

Table of offices held

Electoral record

All electoral information is taken from Elections Canada. Italicized expenditures from elections after 1997 refer to submitted totals, and are presented when the final reviewed totals are not available. Expenditures from 1997 refer to submitted totals. The +/- figures from 2004 are adjusted for redistribution.


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