Jon Gerrard thanks MLAs on last day as Liberal leader
Gerrard's successor to be decided at Oct. 26 leadership convention
Jon Gerrard thanked Manitoba's MLAs during his last day in the legislature as leader of the provincial Liberals.
Gerrard, 65, has led the Liberals in the province for the past 15 years. In the past few years, he has been the party's sole elected representative in the legislative assembly.
"I would like to thank all the members of this chamber for their collective contributions to the well-being of Manitoba," he said during question period on Friday.
Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister described Gerrard as "a person of great, great qualities who has served the people of his riding very well for a long time, and I expect will continue to do just that."
Gerrard said it has been a privilege to lead the party.
"A sad day in one respect, to be the last day as leader, but I think I can reflect back on some positive contributions and some many good times," he told reporters.
A pediatrician, Gerrard entered politics as a Liberal member of Parliament in Jean Chretien's government. He represented Portage-Interlake from 1993 to 1997 and served as a secretary of state.
Following a narrow defeat in the 1997 federal election, he ran successfully for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Manitoba in 1998 and was elected as the MLA for River Heights the following year.
Not a large presence
The Liberals have not had a large presence in the legislature. Gerrard held the only seat in 1999, but then the party gained one more in 2003 and retained both of those seats through the 2007 election.
That second seat was vacated in November 2010, when Kevin Lamoureux left for a successful run at federal politics.
Gerrard was re-elected in River Heights in the 2011 general election, but the party did not succeed in sending anyone else to the legislature.
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After the election, Gerrard announced that would step down as Liberal leader by 2013, after his successor is chosen at a leadership convention.
There are two candidates in the leadership race: Dougald Lamont and Rana Bokhari. The leadership convention will take place Oct. 26.
Gerrard will stay on as the MLA for River Heights at least until the next election. He was coy when asked whether he would seek re-election.