After a multi-year battle with cancer and time in palliative care, it is with great sadness that we acknowledge the death of our friend and colleague Bill Blaikie.
Bill proudly represented the Winnipeg area of Elmwood-Transcona from 1979 to 2008 as MP and from 2009 to 2011 as an MLA. A leading member of the New Democratic Party, Bill advocated for social and economic justice alongside our Institute’s founder, Ed Broadbent, for many years. Bill joined the board of directors in 2019, where he used his wisdom and perspective to help guide our organization. In 2020, Bill was appointed to the Order of Canada for his lifelong contributions to parliamentary service and social activism.
A theologian and clergyman by trade, Bill’s political life followed the same “social gospel” tradition of other notable progressives like J.S. Woodsworh and Tommy Douglas. Bill wrote about this unique political experience in his book The Blaikie Report: An Insider's Look at Faith And Politics.
“Canada has lost a giant of a man. Bill Blaike was one of the most distinguished social democrats of our age. His deep commitment to equality shone through at the highest levels of political life, in Parliament and the Manitoba Legislature in which he served. I will always recall his speeches. His voice ringing with passion for justice was invariably captivating, holding the attention of political friends and foes alike. He was remarkable. My deepest sympathies go out to Brenda and his children.” Ed Broadbent, Founder of the Broadbent Institute.
“Progressives across Canada looked to Bill Blaike as a philosophical and spiritual thinker. He was eloquent, steadfast in his values, and so deeply committed to making life better for all Canadians. His loss will be deeply felt in our movements,” said Jen Hassum, Executive Director.
Like others who knew and loved Bill, we draw strength and hope from his legacy now. Much of what we do at the Broadbent Institute is in keeping with the ideas Bill contributed to the world and follows the example he set. We will honour Bill by continuing this work.