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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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About Larry Kusch and Bruce Owen

Larry Kusch has been a journalist for 30 years, the last 20 with the Winnipeg Free Press. His is one of the newspaper's two legislative bureau reporters.

Raised on a Saskatchewan farm, he received an honours journalism degree from Carleton University in 1975.

At the Free Press, Larry has also worked as a general assignment reporter, business reporter, copy editor and assistant city editor.

Bruce Owen joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1990 after four years working in other media.

He's worked in a number of positions at the Freep, including pet columnist, assistant city editor and police reporter. Right now he takes up space at the Manitoba legislature.

Bruce is one of five reporters who won a National Newspaper Award for the paper’s coverage of the 1997 Flood of the Century. He's also the recipient of the 1996 Volunteer Centre of Winnipeg Media Golden Hand Award and the 1995 Canadian Federation of Humane Societies Media Commendation Award.

In a past life Bruce worked at YMCA-YWCA Camp Stephens. He has a blog where he and others write about camp and the people who worked and played there.

You can also find Bruce on Twitter where he posts and retweets all sorts of stuff.

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