GIVE Jon Gerrard a mandate and he’ll put your kids to work — for the good of the province, that is.

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This article was published 1/9/2011 (3919 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

GIVE Jon Gerrard a mandate and he’ll put your kids to work — for the good of the province, that is.

In front of a packed Crescentwood Community Centre rally on Wednesday night, the provincial Liberal leader and incumbent River Heights MLA called for the creation of an in-province version of Katimavik, a national volunteer program that sends youth to work in diverse Canadian communities.

Quebec Liberal MP Justin Trudeau helps Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard launch the party's election campaign Wednesday.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Quebec Liberal MP Justin Trudeau helps Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard launch the party's election campaign Wednesday.

The provincial version would kick off with a $300,000 investment, Gerrard proposed, and grow from there.

"What we have in Manitoba are some divides," he said. "There’s a rural-urban divide, a First Nations community and non-First Nations divide. So this is just a marvellous opportunity for young people to work together."

Provincial Liberals have been planning to add a Manitoba version of Katimavik to their 2011 election platform for about a year, Gerrard said — before they knew who their guest of honour would be. As it happens, Quebec MP Justin Trudeau is a longtime supporter of Katimavik, which was launched in the 1970s by a close friend of his father, the late prime minister Pierre Trudeau.

And Trudeau was easily the star attraction of the Liberal rally, which was also attended by current and former Liberal politicians including Coun. John Orlikow and former MP Anita Neville. For almost two hours, the 39-year-old political scion pressed palms and posed for photos with members of the provincial faithful. There was nary a whiff of a hip-hop beat or any tribute to the departed at the rally, which kicked off the provincial campaign for Gerrard and 56 other Liberal candidates across Manitoba. Instead, a quiet instrumental duo played the crowd of about 250 supporters through a few hours of cake, lasagna and speeches.

Before Trudeau stood to offer a rousing oratory, Gerrard took the mic to sketch out his vision for the Liberal campaign. He made no other firm platform pledges, though he promised reporters the party would soon unveil "a bold, detailed" platform.

"We believe in campaigning and running on the values of everyday Manitobans," Gerrard said, and critiqued the Tories and NDP for "arguing back and forth on things of no great significance," such as campaign advertising. Moments after arriving at the rally, Trudeau stopped to chat with media – and fielded one question over speculation about the future of the decimated federal Liberal caucus. "The only people talking about a merger are the media and (Winnipeg NDP MP) Pat Martin," Trudeau said, after greeting Gerrard with a hug just outside the rally.

"It’s not a workable idea. I don’t even think it’s a particularly useful idea."

 

melissa.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Melissa Martin

Melissa Martin
Reporter-at-large

Melissa Martin reports and opines for the Winnipeg Free Press.