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Liberal MLA booted from legislative chamber over outburst on care homes

Manitoba MLA Jon Gerrard was booted out of the legislative chamber Thursday after an outburst.
Manitoba MLA Jon Gerrard was booted out of the legislative chamber Thursday after an outburst. File Photo

A member of the Manitoba legislature was kicked out of the chamber for a day after shouting across the floor at a cabinet minister.

Liberal Jon Gerrard, who has sat in the legislature for 20 years and led the party between 1999 and 2011, was criticizing staffing levels in personal care homes in question period.

He asked Health Minister Cameron Friesen whether Friesen thought nursing homes were simply places for seniors to die.

Friesen said Gerrard was insulting workers at the homes and called on him to apologize.

Gerrard, without being recognized by Speaker Myrna Driedger, shouted loudly: “You’re the one who should apologize.”

Driedger asked Gerrard three times to apologize for the outburst and withdraw his remarks, but Gerrard refused.

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“I will not apologize for standing up for seniors,” Gerrard told Driedger on Thursday.

Driedger then ordered him out of the chamber for the rest of the day.

It’s Gerrard’s first such expulsion in his long political career. Gerrard served one term as a member of Parliament in the 1990s before he lost his seat and turned to provincial politics.

One of Gerrard’s former colleagues, Kevin Lamoureux, was kicked out of the legislature chamber in 2006 for accusing the then-NDP government of engaging in “deceit” and refusing to take back what was deemed an unparliamentary word.

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Outside the chamber, Gerrard said he was standing up for seniors in care homes who are not getting adequate care.

Gerrard’s questions were prompted by Dolores Minkus-Hofley, whose husband has been in a personal care home for three years. She watched the proceedings from the public gallery.

“You have two aides to feed 12 or 14 people who cannot feed themselves,” she later told reporters. “I have to hire special help to help me make sure my husband can eat at night. He’s had Parkinson’s for 20 years.”

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Friesen said politicians need to keep their cool when debating in the chamber.

“We know that on a daily basis, tempers can flare,” he said.

“I don’t doubt that (Gerrard) cares about the issues that he was raising today. We care as a government as well.”

Gerrard, one of three Liberals in the legislature, was expected to return Friday.