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Winnipeg MP Daniel Blaikie resigning from Elmwood-Transcona seat to work for Manitoba premier

Daniel Blaikie, the NDP member of Parliament for the Winnipeg riding of Elmwood-Transcona, plans to resign from his seat at the end of March in order to work for Manitoba’s premier, the federal New Democratic Party announced Wednesday.

Blaikie said in an interview he plans to resign on March 31 and begin work in April as Premier Wab Kinew’s senior adviser on intergovernmental affairs, a job that will allow him to work in Winnipeg.

“I’ve got a young family and have been hoping to find a way to spend more time with my young kids and with my wife,” Blaikie said in a telephone interview from Ottawa. 

“When the opportunity came up to get to continue in the vein of work that I’ve been doing for a while now … but get to be in my own bed every night and be able to take my kids to hockey during the week and things like that, it was an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up.”

CBC News has asked Kinew for comment.

Blaikie said his departure has nothing to do with polls that suggest the Conservative party is poised to make gains in the next federal election.

Elmwood-Transcona has traditionally switched hands between the New Democrats and Conservatives. Blaikie was first elected in the eastern Winnipeg seat in 2015, when he narrowly defeated Conservative incumbent Lawrence Toet.

Blaikie was re-elected in 2019 and 2021, with larger percentages of the popular vote each time.

His departure from the House of Commons will leave federal New Democrats with only two MPs in Manitoba: Leah Gazan in Winnipeg Centre and Niki Ashton in Churchill-Keewatinook Aski.

New boundaries for coming byelection

Assuming the Speaker of the House of Commons officially notifies Canada’s chief electoral officer of Blaikie’s resignation on March 31, the federal government must call a byelection by Sept. 27.

In that byelection, Elmwood-Transcona will also have new electoral boundaries that stretch out to the east, absorbing traditionally Conservative-leaning polling areas in Anola and Dugald.

Blaikie said the new boundaries will not impair the NDP’s ability to retain the seat. He expressed confidence in NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ability to increase the party’s seat count.

“Mr. Singh has demonstrated great leadership in this Parliament,” Blaikie said.

“If you look at all the things that New Democrats are getting done as part of his team, I’m very optimistic about the NDP’s fortunes in Elmwood-Transcona after I leave.”

Blaikie cited the forthcoming federal dental care program, which the NDP worked out with the Liberal minority government, as one of the party’s achievements during his time in office.

Blaikie, who followed his late father Bill Blaikie into office, would not say whether there is any pressure on his siblings Rebecca Blaikie, who is a former president of the federal NDP,  or Tessa Blaikie-Whitecloud, the CEO of the Winnipeg charity Siloam Mission, to continue the family’s political pursuits.

“I’m going to leave it to my sisters to speak for themselves,” he said.

Blaikie said his experience in Parliament will help Manitoba’s government work with Ottawa, no matter who wins the next election.

“I can work with Conservatives, I’ve shown that I can work with Liberals, I can work with people with whom I have serious disagreements on some issues and not let that get in the way of making progress where progress can be made,” he said.

Blaikie’s announcement took place the same day he was forced to apologize in the House of Commons for what the Speaker described as unparliamentary language.

“Mr. Speaker, in the course of expressing concerns for the tongues of certain Conservative members that I feared would get stuck in the backside of their leader as he exited the chamber, I did indeed use unparliamentary language,” Blaikie said.

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