Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Chrétien lauds longtime Grit leader Gerrard

  • Print

Former Manitoba Liberal leader Jon Gerrard received a lavish sendoff Thursday night, with a standing ovation from hundreds of people and praise from former prime minister Jean Chrétien.

It was the kind of attention Gerrard rarely saw during his 15 years at the helm of the troubled provincial party -- a tough haul acknowledged by Chrétien, his one-time boss.

"He stayed in politics in a very difficult position," Chrétien told some 380 Liberal faithful who paid $150 for Gerrard's tribute dinner at the Fort Garry Hotel.

"It's very rare that we meet an individual like him who devoted the last 20 years to public life, and I want to say thank you for your dedication."

Gerrard served under Chrétien as secretary of state for science, research and development during his one term in Parliament in the 1990s. He was not re-elected in 1997 and took over the leadership of the third-place Manitoba Liberals the following year.

Throughout his time as leader, the party had only one or two seats in the 57-seat legislature. Without official party status and the funding that comes with it, Gerrard operated on a shoestring budget and struggled for exposure. He travelled on the cheap as he criss-crossed the province trying to rebuild the party.

Gerrard told reporters Thursday he has no regrets.

"The kids and the people of Manitoba are worth it. Even when I was alone (in the legislature), there were a lot of people who provided support," he said. "There have been challenges along the way, yes, but for me, it has just been a phenomenal 15 years."

Gerrard announced his plan to resign after a disastrous 2011 election that saw the Liberal popular vote plummet from 12 per cent to 7.5 per cent. The resignation took effect last month when the party elected his successor, 36-year-old lawyer Rana Bokhari. Gerrard retains his party's only legislative seat -- in River Heights -- and said he has made no decisions about his future. He won't rule out running again provincially in 2016 and would not comment on rumours he might run federally.

"People are talking about all sorts of things but right now, the only plan I've got is to work for the people in River Heights and support Rana Bokhari as our new leader."

Chrétien spent much of his 35-minute speech lauding his government's record, including his refusal to loosen banking regulations governing mortgages and other items. That, he said, prevented the banking implosions seen in the United States and Europe.

"The other day, I had six of the presidents of the bank in front of me, so I could not help but jump on the occasion," Chrétien said.

"I said 'You go around the world today and they tell you you're the best bankers in the world, and I guess you take the compliment and good for you. Do you tell them it's because we stopped you from jumping from the bridge?' "

Chrétien also defended current Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau from accusations he is too young and inexperienced.

"He is older than (former Progressive Conservative prime minister) Joe Clark when he won, but I know he will last longer than Joe Clark," Chrétien said to laughter from the Liberal crowd.

The tribute dinner was aimed at raising much-needed money for the provincial party.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 15, 2013 A5

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Drew Willy on his team's win over Alouettes

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local- A large osprey lands in it's nest in a hydro pole on Hyw 59  near the Hillside Beach turnoff turn off. Osprey a large narrow winged hawk which can have a wingspan of over 54 inches are making a incredible recovery since pesticide use of the 1950's and  1960's- For the last two decades these fish hawks have been reappearing in the Lake Winnipeg area- Aug 03, 2005
  • KEN GIGLIOTTI  WINNIPEG FREE PRESS / July 23 2009 - 090723 - Bart Kives story - Harry Lazarenko Annual River Bank Tour - receding water from summer rains and erosion  damage by flood  and ice  during spring flooding -  Red River , Lyndale Dr. damage to tree roots , river bank damage  , high water marks after 2009 Flood - POY

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Have you decided which mayoral candidate will get your vote?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google