Daniel Blaikie hopes to restore NDP legacy in father's old Winnipeg riding

For decades, the riding of Elmwood-Transcona in Winnipeg was home to one name: the NDP's Bill Blaikie. He retired in 2008, and his party lost the seat in 2011. When his son Daniel said he would like to reclaim the riding, Blaikie encouraged him to go for it.
Daniel Blaikie, left, hopes to win the seat held for two decades by his father, Bill, right, and return it to the NDP fold under leader Tom Mulcair. (Jim Still)

For decades, the riding now known as of Elmwood-Transcona in Winnipeg was home to one name: Bill Blaikie.

The long-time NDP MP first won election in 1979, in an earlier riding configuration called Winnipeg–Birds Hill, and represented the area nine times in all until his retirement in 2008. It wasn't until 2011 that the Conservatives managed to take it from the NDP and then-MP Jim Maloway.

It is part of the reason why the riding is so ripe for a family legacy.

So, when Blaikie's son Daniel came to the former parliamentarian and said he would like to reclaim the riding from the Conservatives, Blaikie encouraged him to go for it.

"I felt we needed to do something different if we were going to get the riding back and felt that Daniel had a good chance to do that," says Blaikie.

Daniel Blaikie is, of course, no stranger to politics.

His father was an MP when he was born and the political life is really all he's ever known.

Blaikie has also long been involved in organizing for the NDP in Winnipeg and has worked as an adviser to an NDP government in Winnipeg.

Now though, he works as an electrician (with a Masters in philosophy). He has a wife and an 18-month-old son.

All things that had to factor into his decision. Blaikie says h is father proved it could be done.

"I think having a parent who had done that, I think that helped," says Daniel. "It's a credit to him. I know other people in public life and it's been too much to bear. But in my parents' case, they did a good job and were role models."

But nothing was going to be handed to Blaikie.

Don't forget the family

First, he had to win a hotly contested nomination battle against Jim Maloway, the current NDP MLA, who wanted to return to federal politics.

The current Conservative MP, Lawrence Toet, won the riding in the last election by 300 votes and hopes to win the nomination to try and hold the seat in the next election. The Liberal Party has yet to nominate a candidate for the riding.

As the NDP's official candidate, Daniel now has his eyes on the prize: returning Elmwood-Transcona to the family name.

"I'm proud of my dad and the service he did as a Member of Parliament," says Daniel. "I aspire to live up to it."

But as Bill Blaikie points out, you can only have a family legacy if your family wants to get involved in politics.

Blaikie's daughter Rebecca has also run for election. She is currently the NDP's president and campaign director in Quebec.

Regardless of what happens to Daniel's political bid in the next election, his Father is pleased the family business seems have to have been embraced by his kids.

"I'm proud and pleased that they see the value of it," says Bill Blaikie. "There's so many things that can turn you off politics.

"I think still think it's one of the most important vocations. And the fact that, whatever we did, we didn't turn them off the idea."


  • This story has been updated from an earlier version to clarify Bill Blaikie's electoral history.
    Aug 04, 2014 9:16 AM ET