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This is an open letter to New Democratic Party members and Canadians explaining why the majority of current and former NDP members of Parliament, premiers and provincial leaders believe Bill Blaikie is the best candidate to lead the federal NDP into the future.

It is our strong conviction that Bill will help our party regain support among working families in cities and towns, the north and rural Canada. His leadership will build a stronger NDP from coast to coast to coast.

Having worked closely with Bill in Parliament, the 40 of us signing this letter know how deeply committed he is to our party and to Canada. We may have had our differences from time to time but, at the end of the day, Bill was always a team player working to pursue common goals.

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As NDP House leader on Parliament Hill, Bill is widely respected. He is a passionate voice for working families, the poor and disenfranchised; a parliamentarian who speaks eloquently about the selfish corporate agenda with its accompanying tax loopholes and unfairness to ordinary Canadians.

We support Bill because of his activities off Parliament Hill. An ordained United Church minister, Bill is an activist who participates in demonstrations, speaking out against discrimination and unfair labour practices, and in favour of a healthy environment, better medicare, and peaceful resolutions to international conflicts.

Bill Blaikie was on the streets of Seattle and Quebec City, standing in solidarity with those who oppose corporate globalization. In this leadership campaign, he has the support of environmentalists such as the Sierra Club's Elizabeth May, and health activists such as Shirley Douglas because they know firsthand how committed Bill is to their causes. Bill understands the urgency of setting priorities right: A healthy environment is the basis for a healthy economy -- not the other way around.

Because of his commitment to a fairer Canada, Bill's list of supporters includes strong aboriginal representation and many new Canadian citizens. During this leadership campaign, Bill's candidacy has convinced thousands of new members to join the NDP, and it's no coincidence that memberships have increased most dramatically in regions where Bill is considered the frontrunner.

Bill's deep understanding of the issues, combined with his eloquence, passion and integrity makes him a formidable adversary of not only the governing Liberals, but other opposition parties as well. Bill knows that building a stronger social democratic party, like building a better nation, requires co-ordination, co-operation and teamwork.

A better future isn't based on a couple of media events. A stronger party and a fairer Canada require hard work. Bill has shown that he is a leader in Parliament and throughout Canada. He attracts people to join with us and works hard to build a better country.

Many of us supporting Bill have worked for different NDP candidates in previous leadership campaigns. This time, we are united under the Bill Blaikie banner. We ask other New Democrats to join with us Jan. 25 and give Bill their support. Bill Blaikie is the leader our party needs now. Signed by the following former and sitting NDP MPs: Vic Althouse Iain Angus Dave Barrett Les Benjamin Dawn Black Mike Breaugh Steve Butland Ian Deans Simon de Jong Bev Desjarlais Michelle Dockrill Ron Fisher Jim Fulton Ray Funk Dennis Gruending Jack Harris Ross Harvey Stan Hovdebo Lynn Hunter Lyle Kristiansen Rod Laporte Wendy Lill Laverne Lewycky Peter Mancini Pat Martin Howard McCurdy Lynn McDonald Rod Murphy Dick Proctor Sid Parker Mark Rose Cid Samson Terry Sargeant Bob Skelly Ray Skelly Len Taylor Ian Waddell Judy Wasylycia-Leis Jack Whittaker Neil Young

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