Bill Blaikie leaving political life
Longtime NDP politician Bill Blaikie is retiring — again.
The MLA for Elmwood and provincial minister of conservation announced on Monday that he will not seek re-election in the upcoming Manitoba election.
Blaikie, 60, said he has been contemplating the move for a couple of months now.
"I am honoured to have served the people in Elmwood and it has been a privilege to work with Greg Selinger," said Blaikie. "As for me, after 32 years of elected political life I'm looking forward to pursuing my other interests."
He didn't reveal what those interests are, but he continues to be an adjunct professor of theology and politics at the University of Winnipeg and has said he wants to write a book on the relationship between faith and politics.
Blaikie, who is also the government house leader, became a Manitoba MLA after winning the Elmwood seat in a byelection in April 2009.
Prior to that, he had served the federal Manitoba riding of Elmwood—Transcona and its antecedent ridings in the House of Commons from 1979 to 2008.
In 2003, he came up short in his campaign against Jack Layton for the leadership of the federal NDP.
Blaikie retired in September 2008 but entered provincial politics at the behest of then-Manitoba Premier Gary Doer.
Shortly after Blaikie joined the party's provincial ranks, however, Doer stepped down to become Canada's ambassador to the United States.
It was Doer's successor, Selinger, who appointed Blaikie to cabinet.
"Bill's political experience and knowledge of environmental issues has been a great asset to our province," said Selinger.
"As minister of conservation, Bill's passion for the environment was the driving force behind significant projects that will have a lasting impact."
Blaikie was instrumental in the development of five new provincial parks in Manitoba this year, Selinger said, adding he also played a significant role in the NDP government's effort to protect the boreal forest on the east side of Lake Winnipeg.
Blaikie is the second high-profile NDP MLA to leave a riding up for grabs in the Oct. 4 election.
Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier Rosann Wowchuk announced on July 4 that she would not run again.
She was first elected to office for Swan River in 1990 and has held her seat ever since.