Jim Walding

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Jim Walding
24th Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba
In office
February 25, 1982 – February 11, 1986
Preceded by Harry Graham
Succeeded by Myrna Phillips
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba for St. Vital
In office
Preceded by Jack Hardy
Succeeded by Bob Rose
Personal details
Born (1937-05-09)May 9, 1937
Rushden, England
Died April 23, 2007(2007-04-23) (aged 69)
Manitoba, Canada
Political party New Democratic Party
Profession Optician
Military service
Service/branch British Army
Unit Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

Derek James Walding (May 9, 1937 – April 23, 2007) was a politician in Manitoba, Canada. He was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba from 1971 to 1988, and served as speaker of the assembly from 1982 to 1986. Walding was a member of the New Democratic Party (NDP). In 1988, he brought down the NDP government of Howard Pawley by voting against his party's budget. This was the first time in Canadian history that a majority government was defeated by a vote of one of its own party members.

Early life and career[edit]

Walding was born at Rushden, Northamptonshire, England and was educated at Wellingborough Grammar School. He spent three years with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, including a stint in West Berlin. He moved to Canada in 1961, and worked in Winnipeg as a dispensing optician and contact lens fitter.[1]

Walding supported the Labour Party in Britain, and joined the New Democratic Party of Canada in 1963. He served on the party's provincial executive in the 1960s.[2]


Walding first ran for the Manitoba legislature in the 1969 provincial election. He initially sought the NDP nomination in the northeast Winnipeg division of Radisson, but lost to Harry Shafransky. He was later recruited as the party's candidate for the nearby division of St. Vital, and lost to Progressive Conservative candidate Jack Hardy by only 23 votes. After the election, the Manitoba Centennial Corporation.[3]

Hardy resigned from the legislature in February 1971, and Walding was nominated as the NDP candidate for the by-election to succeed him.[4] He was narrowly elected, defeating Liberal candidate Dan Kennedy by 295 votes. This result, along with another by-election win on the same day, gave Premier Edward Schreyer a stable majority government in the provincial legislature. Walding served as a backbench supporter of the Schreyer government, and developed a strong reputation for constituency work. He also chaired the private bills committee of the legislature, and gave up his practice as an optician.[5]

Walding voted against Schreyer's decision to extend public funding to denominational schools, in a free vote of the legislature.[6] He faced a serious challenge from Kennedy in the 1973 election, but won by 105 votes.

The New Democrats were defeated in the 1977 provincial election, although Walding was personally re-elected with an increased plurality. After Schreyer's appointment as Governor General of Canada in 1979, Walding endorsed Sidney Green in his unsuccessful bid to become interim NDP leader. He later supported Howard Pawley, the successful candidate, at the party's leadership convention.

The NDP returned to government in the 1981 provincial election. Walding was not appointed to cabinet, as some expected. Instead, Pawley appointed him as speaker of the legislature on February 25, 1982. Over the next four years, his relationship with Pawley became increasingly strained.

In 1983 and 1984, Walding allowed the opposition Progressive Conservatives to stall passage of the Pawley government's re-entrenchment of French-language rights. Initially, the Conservatives refused to enter the chamber to vote on the legislation, and Walding refused to call a vote in their absence. As a result, the division bells were allowed to ring for several hours at the end of each legislative day. When NDP cabinet minister Andy Anstett restricted the amount of time the bells could ring, the Conservatives boycotted the assembly entirely. Walding still refused to call a vote. On February 21, 1984, he refused a direct request from Pawley to move the legislative agenda forward. The house was eventually prorogued with the issue still unresolved.

Many questioned the validity of Walding's decision. Sidney Green, who had left the NDP by this time and also opposed French-language re-entrenchment, nevertheless argued that Walding was wrong to give the Conservatives a means of disrupting the legislative process. Walding's actions made him extremely unpopular with some segments of his party. He was challenged for the St. Vital NDP nomination in 1986 by Gerri Unwin and Sig Laser, and defeated Laser by a single vote on the second ballot.

Walding was re-elected in the general election of 1986 with a reduced majority. The NDP was re-elected with a narrow majority government, and Pawley did not re-appoint Walding as speaker.

As a backbencher, Walding spoke out against the Pawley government on several issues. He was particularly opposed to affirmative action legislation, which he regarded as discriminatory.

Walding voted for an opposition amendment to his party's budget on March 8, 1988, despite having assured Finance Minister Eugene Kostyra that he would support it. Walding's defection caused the NDP to be defeated in the legislature, and they also lost the general election that followed. Walding was not a candidate.

He died, aged 69, after a short battle with cancer in 2007. He was survived by his wife, Valerie and their children, Andrew, Phillip and Christine.

Ian Stewart has written a book about Walding's political career, entitled Just One Vote: Jim Walding's nomination to constitutional defeat (2009). He argues that Walding's 1986 nomination victory set in motion a series of events that led to the defeat of the Meech Lake Accord on constitutional reform.[7]


Geoffrey Lambert, 'Manitoba', Canadian Annual Review of Politics and Public Affairs, 1988, pp 252–260.

Ian Stewart, Just One Vote: From Jim Walding's Nomination to Constitutional Defeat (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2009).

Electoral record[edit]

Manitoba general election, 1986: St. Vital
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
New Democratic Jim Walding 4,430 45.32 −7.48
     Progressive Conservative Paul Herriot 3,872 39.62 −1.02
Liberal Walter Pederson 1,472 15.06 +8.50
Total valid votes 9,774 100.00
Rejected votes 31
Turnout 9,805 73.81 −6.80
Electors on the lists 13,285

Manitoba general election, 1981: St. Vital
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
New Democratic Jim Walding 5,504 52.80
     Progressive Conservative John Robertson 4,236 40.64
Liberal Gord Patterson 684 6.56
Total valid votes 10,424 100.00
Rejected votes 34
Turnout 10,458 80.61
Electors on the lists 12,974

Manitoba general election, 1977: St. Vital
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
New Democratic Jim Walding 3,924 41.62 +2.37
     Progressive Conservative Gil Shaw 3,390 35.95 +13.38
Liberal Eddie Coutu 2,115 22.43 −15.75
Total valid votes 9,429 100.00
Rejected votes 18
Turnout 9,447 84.70 −1.14
Electors on the lists 11,154

Manitoba general election, 1973: St. Vital
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
New Democratic Jim Walding 3,870 39.25 +3.56
Liberal Dan Kennedy 3,765 38.18 +9.87
     Progressive Conservative John Gee 2,225 22.57 −13.44
Total valid votes 9,860 100.00
Rejected votes 51
Turnout 9,911 85.84 +17.80
Electors on the lists 11,546

Manitoba provincial by-election, April 5, 1971: St. Vital
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
New Democratic Jim Walding 3,378 35.94 +0.25
Liberal Dan Kennedy 3,083 32.80 +4.49
     Progressive Conservative Kenneth Pratt 2,925 31.12 −4.89
     Independent Sam Bordman 13 0.14
Total valid votes 9,399 100
Rejected and declined ballots 10
Turnout 9,409 83.05 +15.01
Electors on the lists 11,329

Manitoba general election, 1969: St. Vital
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
     Progressive Conservative Jack Hardy 2,587 36.01
New Democratic Jim Walding 2,564 35.69
Liberal Joe Stangl 2,034 28.31
Total valid votes 7,185 100.00
Rejected votes 39
Turnout 7,224 68.04
Electors on the lists 10,617


  1. ^ Ian Stewart, Just One Vote: Jim Walding's nomination to constitutional defeat, (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press), 2009, p. 27.
  2. ^ Stewart, p. 27.
  3. ^ Stewart, p. 27, 30.
  4. ^ Walding defeated rival candidates Keith Huss and Bill Hutton on the first ballot. Huss had been drafted by Harry Shafransky to challenge Walding, while Hutton had been the NDP candidate for St. Vital in the 1966 provincial election. See Stewart, p. 30.
  5. ^ Stewart, p. 32.
  6. ^ Herb Schultz, A View from the Ledge: An Insider's Look at the Schreyer Years, (Winnipeg: Heartland Associates Inc.), 2006, p. 118.
  7. ^ Ian Stewart, p. 2.

External links[edit]