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Gerrard among four mulling Manitoba Liberal leadership bid

Manitoba Liberal Party MLA Jon Gerrard is considering another run for leadership, after representing the party from 1998 to 2013 as leader. He attended his party's annual general meeting Saturday at the Victoria Inn in Brandon.

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Manitoba Liberal Party MLA Jon Gerrard is considering another run for leadership, after representing the party from 1998 to 2013 as leader. He attended his party's annual general meeting Saturday at the Victoria Inn in Brandon. (IAN FROESE/THE BRANDON SUN)

Manitoba Liberal Party interim leader Judy Klassen laughs speaks to delegates at the party's annual general meeting Saturday at the Victoria Inn in Brandon. She has until June 20 to resign if she wants to run for permanent leader.

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Manitoba Liberal Party interim leader Judy Klassen laughs speaks to delegates at the party's annual general meeting Saturday at the Victoria Inn in Brandon. She has until June 20 to resign if she wants to run for permanent leader. ( IAN FROESE/THE BRANDON SUN)

Ajay Chopra, a former Liberal adviser, is

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Ajay Chopra, a former Liberal adviser, is "seriously considering" a run for leadership of the Manitoba Liberal Party. (IAN FROESE/THE BRANDON SUN)

Dougald Lamont, a local business leader who lost out to Rana Bokhari for Manitoba Liberal Party leadership in 2013, is considering another run for the party's leadership.

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Dougald Lamont, a local business leader who lost out to Rana Bokhari for Manitoba Liberal Party leadership in 2013, is considering another run for the party's leadership. (IAN FROESE/THE BRANDON SUN)

Cindy Lamoureux didn’t hesitate when asked if her bid for leadership of the Manitoba Liberal Party would be contested.

The rookie MLA answered in the affirmative, without pause.

On Saturday at the party’s annual general meeting in Brandon, her caucus colleagues, interim leader Judy Klassen and former leader Jon Gerrard, said they might contest the nomination as well.

Dougald Lamont, a communications consultant who lost to Rana Bokhari for party leadership in 2013, expressed that he may throw his hat in the ring and Ajay Chopra, a former Liberal adviser, is "seriously considering" a leadership run, he shared.

Lamoureux, 25, wouldn’t name names when asked of possible rivals, but said the excitement among party members at the AGM makes the environment ripe for a competitive race.

"There’s rumours, and rumours in politics tend to be true a lot of time," she said.

Gerrard is again considering a run for leadership after stepping aside in 2013 following an election where the Manitoba Liberals captured just one seat — his own. He first became party leader in 1998.

"I’ve had an opportunity here to talk to a number of people and I’ll have to make a final decision in the next two or three weeks," Gerrard said. "This has been very helpful," he said of the AGM, "to have good discussions with quite a number of Liberals."

Klassen, who shocked political observers a year ago by beating longtime NDP incumbent Eric Robinson in the province’s northernmost riding, has until June 20 to resign as interim leader if she intends to run for the permanent role.

She’ll make up her mind on June 19, she said with a laugh.

"There’s a lot of work to do between now and then. I’ve never been one to rush into anything, I’ve always done my due diligence."

Klassen will not come to a decision until speaking with her constituents in Kewatinook, something she plans to do in-person when the legislature is not in session.

"It’s not something for phone calls," she said.

Lamont came in second place in 2013 when the Manitoba Liberals went with Bokhari, a lawyer and political neophyte, as their candidate.

Owner of a consulting and communications business and lecturer in government-business relations at the University of Winnipeg, Lamont likened his probability of running to wandering to the edge of a diving board and looking down.

"I’m at the deep breath before the plunge," Lamont said. "I’m considering."

He’ll consult with his wife and four kids before coming to any conclusion.

"There’s lots of stuff to manage, but also I’d like my kids to be able to get good jobs in Manitoba, to stay in Manitoba," he said.

Ajay Chopra, who revealed in 2012 he was considering a run for leadership of the Manitoba Liberals, is again testing the waters.

He ultimately chose not to contest the nomination a few years ago, and is now re-evaluating.

"Seeking the leadership, I’m very interested in that," Chopra said.

"I need my family behind me 100 per cent and the conditions need to make sense."

No other candidate entering the race will determine whether he runs.

"My decision is based on whether it makes sense personally and professionally," he said. "It’s a big, big decision."

Chopra wrote an opinion piece in the Winnipeg Free Press on Friday, arguing the Liberals have a prime opportunity in 2020 for an electoral breakthrough.

He didn’t cite his own interest in running in the article but stated the next leader must possess "experience, charisma, chutzpha and proficiency in both official languages."

Chopra ran for the provincial Liberals in 1999 in Point Douglas. He would leave Manitoba and work for the federal Liberals, serving, at one point, as adviser to former justice minister Martin Cauchon.

He now works as a government relations consultant.

Prospective candidates must submit their nomination papers 30 days before the Oct. 21 leadership convention.

» ifroese@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @ianfroese

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 8, 2017

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Cindy Lamoureux didn’t hesitate when asked if her bid for leadership of the Manitoba Liberal Party would be contested.

The rookie MLA answered in the affirmative, without pause.

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Cindy Lamoureux didn’t hesitate when asked if her bid for leadership of the Manitoba Liberal Party would be contested.

The rookie MLA answered in the affirmative, without pause.

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