In Canadian politics, respect for some politicians transcends partisan lines.
Former NDP MP and United Church minister Bill Blaikie, who died of kidney cancer last month, was one of those politicians.
MPs of all stripes paid tribute to the 71-year-old in the House of Commons on Wednesday, including Green Party MP Elizabeth May, who considered Blaikie a friend and inspiration.
“He is and was and will always be a prophetic voice in Canadian politics that says we don’t leave behind the downtrodden, we don’t forget what it is to say we have faith, and we believe and miracles are possible,” she said, ending her speech with a prayer.
May said Blaikie was “universally respected” amongst his parliamentary colleagues. But she also highlighted his steadfast belief in the social gospel, “something that we don’t hear about very much in this place,” referring to Parliament Hill, and his criticism of worshiping the free market.
“Bill knew you cannot serve God and mammon at the same time,” May said, quoting Matthew 6:24. Mammon is a term used in some translations of the New Testament to refer to debasing material wealth.
You can listen to May’s full speech below.
Members of the House of Commons rose in a standing ovation Wednesday to recognize Blaikie, and members from the NDP, Liberal, Conservative and Bloc Québécois parties stood up to speak in remembrance.
Liberal MP Kevin Lamoreux, who represents the riding of Winnipeg North, said that Blaikie understood that his first responsibility was to his constituents.
“There are individuals in Manitoba, whether they are Conservative, New Democrats, Liberals or any other political affiliation, that look at Bill Blaikie as an inspiration, as someone that understood the principles of what it meant to be [a] parliamentarian,” he said.
Blaikie served as an MP for nearly 30 years.
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Conservative MP James Bezan highlighted the importance that Blaikie placed on his faith and his passion for his Scottish heritage.
“He was one of the best pipers Canada had to offer,” Bezan said.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh recognized Blaikie’s role in shaping the 1984 Canada Health Act, but also his love of nature.
“Before it was ever fashionable, Bill was an environmentalist,” Singh said.
House speaker Anthony Rota praised Blaikie’s “trademark wit and good humour” and noted that he had inspired his children. Since 2015, Daniel Blaikie has served as an MP in his father’s former riding, Elmwood-Transcona in Winnipeg.
“My sisters and I will be forever grateful for the many long conversations that lasted well into the wee hours of the morning where we got to investigate the mysteries of theology, politics and history with a master of the arts that cared for us deeply,” Daniel Blaikie said in his tribute to his father.
As MPs paid tribute to the late Bill Blaikie this afternoon in the House of Commons, his son, NDP MP Daniel Blaikie, was among the speakers. The former dean of the House died September 24 at the age of 71.
— CPAC (@CPAC_TV) October 19, 2022
Emma Prestwich is Broadview’s digital editor.
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