Jon Gerrard, a former leader of the Manitoba Liberal party, is taking a shot at becoming its leader again.
Gerrard, 69, told reporters Friday he had not contemplated another run, but the Pallister government has slashed so many essential programs that people implored him to enter the race.
Gerrard, a medical doctor and former federal cabinet minister, has been the MLA for River Heights since 1999. He was provincial Liberal leader from 1998 to 2013.
His announcement means all three Liberal MLAs are running for the leadership, which will be decided Oct. 21.
Burrows MLA Cindy Lamoureux was first to declare her run for the leadership.
Earlier this week, interim leader Judy Klassen abruptly announced by email that she had stepped down, effective immediately, and was running for the leadership.
The MLA for Kewatinook, Klassen had until Tuesday to decide whether to continue as interim leader, and took the unusual step of not holding a news conference to make a formal announcement.
Dougald Lamont is also running. He finished second to Rana Bokhari in the October 2013 leadership race. Bokari stepped down last year after running a disappointing election campaign in which her party lost its chance to be the Official Opposition, winning only three seats.
Gerrard said he will continue to work with Lamoureux and Klassen as colleagues, not rivals.
"That has been fantastic. I look forward to working with both of them," regardless who becomes leader. The party’s board will decide on an interim leader, said Gerrard.
"Clearly, Manitobans need an alternative to the Conservative government," said Gerrard, who has been fighting to keep the Misericordia Urgent Care Centre open.
"I am coming back because there is so much to do on the environment," including Lake Winnipeg and adequate flood protection, especially for indigenous communities, he said.
"There are critical needs in education."
Gerrard shrugged off any concerns the Liberals did not achieve party status during his first time as leader.
"We’re in a very different place — we have three strong MLAs (and) we’ve got a stronger board. The other two parties are weaker," he said.
Meanwhile, MLA Wab Kinew remains the only candidate seeking the Sept. 16 NDP leadership race.
Steve Ashton, a former cabinet minister who has lost leadership bids twice, was coy earlier this week about a third try.
Flor Marcelino remains the interim leader for another three months. However, while Marcelino was present throughout the evening Tuesday at Bernadette Smith’s byelection headquarters, she did not join Smith on stage for her victory speech, and did not formally welcome Smith to caucus.
Instead, MLA Nahanni Fontaine introduced Smith as the NDP’s newest MLA, while Kinew stood with Smith.