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Gerrard, Lamont debate in Selkirk

Brook Jones, Selkirk Journal

(Brook Jones/Selkirk Journal/Postmedia Network)

(Brook Jones/Selkirk Journal/Postmedia Network)

Jon Gerrard has entered familiar territory as a contender to become the next leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party.

The former leader of the party and veteran MLA for River Heights touchdown in Selkirk, Wednesday, for a leadership contestants debate.

The contest to become the next leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party is well underway and will be decided at the party’s Oct. 21 leadership convention.

Gerrard, Dougald Lamont and Cindy Lamoureux are all vying to become the next leader in order to take the mission of the Liberals well into the future for their supporters in the keystone province. Lamoureux, who was first elected to the legislature last year, was unable to attend the leadership contestants debate.

During the one-hour debate, which included a meet and greet ahead of time, the two contestants were asked five specific questions that were submitted with each having three minutes to reply and then two minutes each to respond.

It comes as no surprise that Gerrard, who previously led party for 15 years is running to lead his party for a second time.
Gerrard, who has served as MLA since 1999, resigned as leader after the party hit their lowest point in the 2011 provincial election.

“Every contest is unique and this one has three of us and because of the nature of the contest it means travelling all over Manitoba. It’s actually very exciting and invigorating talking with people in different parts of the province. Seeing what their issues are and getting a better understanding of what is needed depending on where you are in  the province,” Gerrard said. “It’s been exciting to get a lot of support. Were not going to know how this is going to turn out until we get to Oct. 21. I think it has been a really good effort and it shows the strength of the Liberal party to have three strong candidates.”

The former pediatrician at the Winnipeg Children’s Hospital, explained that the issue of fisheries on Lake Winnipeg, Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipegosis is important to Manitobans.

“The importance of fish as food has grown in large measure because of the recognition for brain development and brain growth and brain function. People who eat more fish seem to have less in the way of depression. Fish seems to be good for cognitive development of children and for children doing well in school,” he said.

“We need to be doing better at promoting fish that come from Manitoba as healthy food and increasing the market for Manitoba fish right here in our own province.”
Lamont,  a Winnipeg businessman, threw his hat into the ring in early June. He is also familiar with the process of vying to become leader of a political party as ran in the last race in 2013 and finished a second to Rana Bokhari. Lamont is hopeful his chances are better this go-around.

He said every debate from now until the leadership convention will be different because the contestants don’t know the questions ahead of time.

“You learn a lot from the experience. I’m not taking myself so seriously this time and having more fun and taking a few more risks,” Lamont said.
Lamont, who owns a small digital media company and is a lecturer in government-business relations at the University of Winnipeg, said he felt there was a good turn out for the debate in Selkirk.

“It was my first time I have ever debated Jon,” he said. “It was good because there are areas where we don’t agree. It helps give people a clearer decision. We have to say what we stand for and we have to defend those positions.”

He noted that he differs from Gerrard when it comes to regional health authorities throughout the province.

“I do think that they need to go,” he said. “Things in Manitoba have been getting worse bit by bit. We can’t just make things better bit by bit.”
Lamont added that the province has to make big moves on when it comes infrastructure for example.
“We can’t make the tiny little changes, we have to make the big changes,” he added. “We need to do that as a party to win. I also think we need to do that to govern to make things better for a whole lot of people.”


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