A former Manitoba MLA hopes his name will be cleared now that police have arrested a long-sought fugitive.

Bob Wilson was the Conservative member of the legislature for the Winnipeg riding of Wolseley when he was arrested, along with several others, in a major drug bust in 1979.

Wilson has proclaimed his innocence for more than 30 years and now says he has a new reason to hope for justice. On Tuesday, U.S. marshals arrested former Winnipegger Ian Jackson MacDonald, 71, at his central Florida home.

MacDonald was one of the other people arrested in connection with the drug bust. Wilson believes MacDonald is key to proving he was not part of a drug smuggling plan.

"At the time they arrested me they said he was one of the most wanted men in Canada. He was on the top 20 list," said Wilson. "This announcement [of the arrest] is a blessing because all the U.S. evidence [will] clear me."

Wilson was tried, convicted and jailed in 1980, but MacDonald, who was the alleged mastermind, escaped from custody in the U.S.

While in custody in 1980, he faked a heart attack and was taken to hospital, where he escaped by conning a guard into removing his leg shackles, according to senior Insp. Barry Golden with the U.S. Marshal Service.

When authorities arrested MacDonald on Tuesday, he was living with his wife under an assumed name. He was taken to Marion County Jail and is scheduled to make an appearance on escape charges in federal court in Orlando.

Wilson said he believed Jackson was either dead or living Central America.

With files from The Canadian Press