Manitoba

Former Manitoba Liberal leader Jon Gerrard aims to become leader once again

Jon Gerrard is making a run to lead the Manitoba Liberal Party once again.
Jon Gerrard, who announced he is running to become leader of the Manitoba Liberals once again, has represented the River Heights riding since 1999. He served as leader from 1998 until 2013 before stepping down. (CBC)

Jon Gerrard is making a run to lead the Manitoba Liberal Party once again.

The River Heights MLA made the announcement on the steps of the legislative building on Friday, saying he's been asked by supporters to take charge of the struggling party.

That means all three Liberal MLAs are vying for the leadership with no current interim leader. 

"I have had many people come to me to say, 'Jon, we need you,'" said Gerrard, 69, pointing to his political experience, knowledge and ability.

"I'm coming back because our health-care system is in danger," he added, criticizing the Progressive Conservative government for its health-care cuts.

"As a doctor, I intimately know the health-care system and how it works."

In addition, Gerrard said he wants to protect the environment.

"There is a vital need to address Lake Winnipeg, there is a vital need to make sure that all Manitobans have clean running water, and there is a vital need to make sure that all communities, including First Nations communities, have adequate flood protection," he said.

"Under the NDP's watch, Lake Winnipeg was named the most threatened lake in the world — and the PC government has also not made environmental stewardship in Manitoba a priority."

The other platform item Gerrard highlighted was the critical need for education support and access for students.

"I am coming back because we need to ensure post-secondary education in Manitoba is accessible and that we support our students and recent graduates instead of eliminating the tuition rebate, as the PC government is doing," he said.

Gerrard has represented the River Heights riding since 1999. He served as leader of the Manitoba Liberals from 1998 to 2013 before stepping down.

In the four elections under his watch, the Liberals saw their share of the popular vote drop each time and never captured more than two legislature seats.

Rana Bokhari was elected as the new leader at a convention but only served a brief term from October 2013 until September 2016. Under her watch, the party added one more seat, but she was not elected.

Judy Klassen, the party's MLA for for the northern riding of Kewatinook, had been serving as interim leader but stepped down earlier this week to throw her hat into the leadership ring.

Cindy Lamoureux, who represents the riding of Burrows, has also announced her candidacy for leader.

Dougald Lamont, a small business owner and university lecturer who finished a distant second in the last leadership race, is also running again.

Party members will elect their new leader Oct. 21 in Winnipeg.

With files from The Canadian Press

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