Parties & Leaders
The Liberal Party: Jon Gerrard
CBC Online News | Updated April 3, 2007
The Liberals have a louder voice in Manitoba than one would expect from a party with only two elected members — and that’s largely due to the high-visibility tactics of party leader Jon Gerrard.
Gerrard led the party as it doubled its presence in the legislature during the 2003 election — doubled it to two, that is. Gerrard fought a lonely battle during his first term from 1999 to 2003, when he was the sole Liberal voice in the house.
The Liberals haven't led the province since the 1950s, but Gerrard's attitude belies that fact. He and the party's other MLA, Inkster's Kevin Lamoureux, hold frequent press conferences at which they let Manitobans know what a Liberal government would do for them, just as if the party were only a few seats from majority status.
The announcements have been leaning to the green in the past few months, calling for the development of rapid transit in the capital, and improvements to Lake Winnipeg water quality by ending winter manure-spreading and putting a levy on cosmetic fertilizers.
The party also announced it intends to run a carbon-neutral election campaign.
It's a change from the last election, when the Liberals' attentions seemed more focused on health and economic issues.
Gerrard, a pediatrician and medical researcher, became leader of the party in 1998, a year after he lost his federal seat in Portage-Interlake, which he held for a single term.
In 1999, the disorganized party wasn't able to run a full slate of candidates — but that changed in 2003, when the Liberals had a candidate for every riding. By March of 2007, the party had candidates nominated in 28 ridings, and nominations pending for several more.
In a province that has virtually become a two-party race in recent years, it's a tough call to say whether the Liberals will increase their presence again this time around.
In electing Lamoureux in 2003, the Inkster riding brought back an MLA they rejected in 1999. Whether the party can bring back its support in other constituencies remains to be seen.
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Born: Oct. 13, 1947 in England
Education: University of Saskatchewan, McGill University, University of Minnesota, University of Oklahoma
Employment: Served as head of pediatric hematology/oncology for Winnipeg's Children's Hospital from 1985-92 and teaching in the University of Manitoba's faculty of medicine from 1980 to 1993.
Politics: Elected MP for Portage-Interlake in 1993, defeated in 1997. Won liberal leadership in 1998. Won his seat in 1999 and again in 2003.
Family: Wife Naomi Oberholtzer, an artist; three children
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