Last Thursday, Cindy Lamoureux, Dougald Lamont and I all spoke at the Laurier Club luncheon. The room was full and there was lots of interest as we enter the last few weeks of the Manitoba Liberal Party leadership contest. My Speech is below.
Hello Everyone. It is good to be here today at the Laurier Club.
First of all I want to give a shout out to the Winnipeg Goldeyes – what a team and what a season.
Let me start with the question some people are asking – Why am I running to be our Manitoba Liberal leader?
This journey began with many people approaching me to say I should run. After many discussions first with my wife, then my River Heights Liberal Association and then many others – and with much enthusiasm from many, and some skepticism from some, including my wife, who is also my greatest support, I decided to run to give Liberals a third option. I am running because I believe that we have an opportunity to form government in 2020 – and that Manitoba needs our Liberal Party as an option to the overspending, poor managing NDP and the poorly thought out hacking and slashing of the Tories. I am running because I have experience and knowledge to offer. We know that the strongest steel is forged in the hottest fires. I have been through some hot fires.
I am running because I have had several years away from being leader to reflect and to learn. I am running because I am enjoying working with Cindy Lamoureux and Judy Klassen. Cindy and Judy are amazing MLAs. Judy has spent the last several weeks diligently and dedicatedly helping the many people who were evacuated from her communities - Wasagamack, Garden Hill and St Theresa Point. Together with Bob Rae I was in St Theresa Point a number of years ago – pushing for clean running water for all. Now, I am working with Judy, not just for clean running water, but also for better fire protection, and to build the community economies. We need to give Judy a hand for her tenacity.
I am running because our team is growing stronger with Dougald Lamont running for the leadership and with Paul Brault and the rest of our Board working hard to improve our position and to address our financial situation.
I am running because I believe I can work together with Cindy, Judy, Dougald, Paul and Liberals from around our province to build the team we need for the election of 2020. I believe my knowledge and experience can help. Cindy and I were together in the Philippines earlier this year to talk to people about coming to Canada. We both believe that immigrants are a strength for us as Manitobans. I am together with Cindy in believing that we need to move quickly to put in place an Election Readiness Committee and a Search Committee for candidates so we are ready for byelections and for the election of 2020. I also see we need to move quickly to make plans for policy development, for fundraising and for organization of all constituencies so that we are ready.
I am together with Dougald in believing we need strong small businesses and a strong economy.
I have recently been working with refugees to try to address racism, stigmatization and housing issues. It is important to recognize and address these problems, because we, as Liberals, recognize that diversity is our strength and is the future for Manitoba.
The leadership campaign and the push to bring in new members and renew old members from around the province is having a positive effect. Our membership has expanded substantially. I want to thank all my volunteers who have helped on my campaign. Cindy, Dougald and I have had an opportunity to meet and talk with Manitobans throughout the province. We are learning and at the same time building the profile of our party.
In this contest I have made four major policy announcements. First, on the environment I talked of Lake Winnipeg and our City of Winnipeg and the need to end the dumping of raw sewage from our city into the Red and the Assiniboine Rivers. Second, on health care, I described my approach to having elected RHA boards to ensure decisions are accountable to communities, and to move to patient focused budgets – budgets based on services delivered, to ensure we put patients first. Third, I announced my intention to move to deliver universally accessible child care and early childhood education for Manitoba to help children and families and to unblock our economy. Fourth, I have talked of changing from an apprehend children first model of child and family services to an integrated services model which focuses on supporting families and which reduces the number of children in care and keeps children with families through better support for families. This morning I was at a March of Dimes conference on accessibility and I talked with two social work students currently doing practicums and they have ideas to help as well. It is by listening to people that we get new ideas and improve. And I continue to listen, as I have listened to Fred Morris, who is here, about the important of the St. James Civic Centre.
I have worked, during my career, on many issues – from better addressing brain and mental health, to saving the Experimental Lakes Area and improving our environment, to helping people around Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin with flooding and to addressing issues faced by the City of Winnipeg. It is my work in these areas that has led to people supporting and endorsing me including among others Counsellor Mike Pagtakhan, Experimental Lakes Areas scientist Mike Paterson, Bonnie Bricker, Director of Family Navigation programs and services at the Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba and Bertha Travers, a First Nations activist and helper of flood evacuees.
I have been there for many others, including many Liberals – including helping in the trenches going door to door – provincial or federal candidates – including for my local Member of Parliament Jim Carr and for my good friend Kevin Lamoureux including when he has run federally.
We will emerge from this leadership contest a unified party. We need to be and we must be ready for upcoming byelections and for the election of 2020. I believe I can lead our party well to meet these challenges. But I say to you join us, whoever is leader, so that we are ready. I ask you to be part of positive change and join us for a better Liberal Party and a better, fairer, more inclusive, more prosperous Manitoba.