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Jon Gerrard


By Rhonda Spivak, September 22, 2011

Jon Gerrard, incumbent MLA for River Heights ( for the last 12 years) and the Leader of the Liberal Party of Manitoba believes that the Liberals could well “hold the balance of power” in this upcoming election.
In an interview in his home, Gerrard told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that the Liberals have good opportunities to pick up  a seat in “Tyndall Park -where candidate Roldan Sevilano, Liberal MP Kevin Lameroux’s former campaign manager is running). After Tyndall Park he said “we have good chance of being represented in the Maples (Pablito Sarinas), and Burrows (Twyla Motkalek), and in Fort Rouge-where Paul Hesse is running—and in St. Norbert, where Marcel Le Rondo is running. We also have some excellent candidates in Tuxedo with Linda Minuk and in Charleswood with Matt Ostrove.”
“I think there’s a good likelihood of us holding the balance of power…We will be constructive and very firm in holding the government into account,” he said.
On the issue of “big issue”  day care, which is of concern to residents of River Heights and many other ridings where there is a lack of spots, Gerrard says the bad situation is the result of “inadequate planning by the NDP –They’ve done a little here and a little there and haven’t solved the problem.”
When asked what actions he has taken on this issue, Gerrard responded, “We had a big rally in 2007...We had a lot of people at the legislature...I have repeatedly raised this [issue] in question period more than anyone else. I think that our efforts to push for more daycare have succeeded a little but more needs to be done. That’s why I have said we need a major initiative rather than a little bit here and a little bit there.”
Gerrard says that this is why the Liberal platform makes a commitment of $44.5 million in the first year of a Liberal government to improving access to early child education and daycare.
On economic issues Dr. Gerrard says Liberals would stimulate the economy by allocating $11.5 million in the first year for a research and innovation and opportunity fund,” as well as reducing the payroll tax until its gone”
Gerrard says that the payroll tax “which was put in by the NDP in the early 80%’s means that when a company reaches a certain size, the payroll tax [on a large number of employees} becomes a burden and “it’s been responsible” for having people moving out of Manitoba.”
Finally, Gerrard says that the other thing that needs to be done to improve and develop the economy is to build a rapid transit system for al of Winnipeg.
“This needs provincial support and leadership. By 2020 we are going to have one million people in Winnipeg and its immediate surroundings. Around rapid transit stops you naturally get home development and business development so it creates industry and trade. It will help solve some problems for immigrants, tourists, students. Rapid transit is a backbone of the economy. It’s the major item that needs to be done now.”
Gerrard says the “Liberals have made a financial commitment of $46.2 million in the first year and we’d keep providing that amount each year.”
“I don’t believe that the conservatives have made any announcements about rapid transit. They’ve said that they want to see it happen but they have not made the same commitment. We believe it must be a top commitment.”
Regarding the NDP and rapid transit, Gerrard says that the “NDP says we’ll provide funding but it’s conditional on the city and the federal government providing the funding. We say to the city that we won’t make provincial funding conditional on federal funding, although it would be very nice to have federal funding.”
“Rapid transit is the key to moving the province forward and the city also.”
In the realm of education, in Gerrard’s view, the NDP have failed in dealing with the dropout rate of students not completing high school.
“We have had one of the highest high school drop out rates in all of Canada-we’ve either been the highest or the second worst...In the inner city the drop out rates are close to 50% , which is a major contribution to kids getting involved in drugs and crime.”
He says that the NDP has “paid no attention to this at all.” The solution to this problem, according to Gerrard is to focus on having more truancy officers.
“Their job is to talk to the child, the family , and the school and figure out what can be done to get the child back in school. ‘There can be learning or behavioral issues, or issues of lack of parental involvement that can be addressed through the services of a truancy officer. If your child drops out you should be able to call the school division and seek the assistance of a truancy officer .Our problem is we are very short of truancy officers…”.
Gerrard, who has worked as a pediatrician, also says the NDP has not put enough emphasis on keeping families healthy.
He says, for example, that the NDP ought to have treated diabetes as an epidemic (just like H1N1). Most of the measures to reduce the incidence of diabetes are exercise and diet, and the results of not doing so put a tremendous burden on the healthcare system.
“ I’ve been talking about this for most of the last 12 years ..Each year the cost of healthcare [related to diabetes] goes up…With more Liberal elected, we can have more influence on this issue...We [the Liberals] would allocate $4.5 million and treat diabetes as an epidemic.”
Preventing FASD is ‘another’ healthcare issue which needs more attention. In Gerrard’s view.
Gerrard, who is soon to turn 64, says that in River Heights, he and his campaign team are “working hard” and asks the voters of River Heights to re- elect him again.
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.