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Kennedy’s just visiting

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It’s time to put to rest one rumour floating around at who might be the next Jon Gerrard.

It won’t be former Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy.

Kennedy says he has no aspirations to be the next leader of Manitoba’s Liberals.

"I don’t have any plans to move back to Manitoba," Kennedy says. "There seems to be a persistent rumour, but I don’t know where that comes from. "

Kennedy grew up in Manitoba — he’s originally from The Pas — and his siblings and father still live here. But that’s as far as goes — family visits.

He said one local media outlet that contacted him about his provincial leadership hopes claimed to know the street he was moving to in Winnipeg — news to Kennedy, who lives in Toronto.

"I have lots of regard for the Manitoba political scene. I don’t know what the Liberals' prospects are going to be. Obviously they need a turnaround."

The former Ontario minister of education, who made an unsuccessful bid for the leadership of the federal Liberal party in 2006, said his focus now is rebuilding the Liberal riding association in Parkdale–High Park. He had sought re-election to his old federal seat in Toronto last May, but lost to the NDP's Peggy Nash.

Kennedy, who runs his own consulting firm Enterprising for the Public Good, says he’s also working on a national Liberal foundation.

"Those are the things that have my time right now on the political front," he said.

Manitoba Liberals are to hold a leadership contest within 18 months, with the exact date to be set at the party's annual general meeting in May.

Gerrard has said last week he'd step down as leader in 2013, but plans to complete his term as MLA for River Heights.

The Liberals won two seats in the 2007 general election and only one -- Gerrard's own riding -- in the Oct. 4 provincial election. In that vote, the party's popular vote slipped to 7.8 per cent.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

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