Memorable Manitobans: William Alexander “Bill” Blaikie (1951-2022)
Born at Winnipeg on 19 June 1951, son of Robert Nisbet “Bob” Blaikie (1926-2003) and Kathleen “Kay” Taylor (1924-2008), grandson of Alexander Taylor, he was raised in Transcona. As a boy, he was active in the Transcona Memorial United Church. He studied at the University of Winnipeg, graduating in 1973 with a BA degree in Philosophy and Religious Studies, then attended the Toronto School of Theology, receiving a Master of Divinity degree in 1977.
After serving as a student minister at West Hawk United Church (1977), he was ordained a minister in the United Church of Canada (1978). He was Director of the North End Community Ministry at the All Peoples Mission (1977-1979).
He was elected as a New Democrat in the 1979 federal general election and was re-elected in 1980, 1984, 1988, 1993, 1997, 2000, 2004, and 2006. During this time, he served as NDP House Leader, NDP Parliamentary Leader, Deputy Speaker, and NDP Health Critic (1980-1984). In 2003, he was a candidate for party leadership but was defeated by Jack Layton. He did not stand for re-election in 2008 but was elected in a 2009 provincial by-election and sat for the remainder of the legislative session, serving as Minister of Conservation (2009-2011) and Government House Leader (2009-2010).
In recognition of his community service, he received the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (2002) and Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012) and an honorary doctorate from the University of Winnipeg (2007). In 2020, he was inducted into the Order of Canada.
He was married with four children, including Daniel Blaikie. An avid bagpiper, he performed with the Lord Selkirk Boy Scouts, Cameron Cadets, Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, Anavets, St. Andrew's Society of Winnipeg, and Air Command Band. He served as President of the St. Andrews Society of Winnipeg (2014-2015) and he wrote a memoir entitled The Blaikie Report: An Insider's Look at Faith and Politics (2011).
He died at Winnipeg on 24 September 2022.
“Longtime Manitoba politician Bill Blaikie dead after long battle with cancer,” CBC News, 24 September 2022.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 29 September 2022