Legacy and experience on Manitoba’s PC ballot, political science prof says – Winnipeg


The battle to become Manitoba’s next premier is going to come down to political experience, according to Kelly Saunders, a political science professor at Brandon University.

Heather Stefanson has over 20 years of experience in Manitoba’s legislature, but served a crucial role in Brian Pallister’s government and Saunders says that could hold her back in the race. Shelly Glover served as a federal cabinet minister under former prime minister Stephen Harper, and Saunders says Glover’s lack of provincial experience might be a liability.

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Saunders says Stefanson’s time as Manitoba’s health minister during the pandemic might hold her back, not necessarily in the PC party leadership election on Oct. 30, but could come back to haunt her in the provincial election in two years if she is elected premier.

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“She’s held several important positions, so if you’re looking for someone who can step into the job on day one and do the very important work of being premier and leading and guiding the province, then I think, no question, she has the really important and most recent experience to do that job.”

By contrast, Saunders says Glover wasn’t part of the caucus or that cabinet, so she can distinguish herself from the government and its legacy, and perhaps demonstrate that she’s a different kind of leader.

“She’s not tainted by that baggage and she can really take the party in a new direction,” Saunders says.

Yet this can also be a disadvantage for Glover, Saunders adds.

“She doesn’t have the kind of experience and in-depth knowledge or skills to be able to step into the job on day one,” Saunders says. “It’s not like she doesn’t have cabinet minister experience but the federal level doesn’t necessarily translate over to being able to be a capable Manitoba premier and dealing with Manitoba files, issues and concerns.”

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Stefanson faced heavy backlash for her actions during her time as health minister, particularly during the third wave in Manitoba, for not speaking out against words and actions by former premier Pallister.

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“A lot of questions and concerns were being raised, not only about Mr. Pallister’s general character and leadership ability, but more specifically his handling of the pandemic. So the fact that she was sitting there as the Minister of Health under his guidance and not speaking out or expressing her concerns about some of the actions Mr. Pallister was making, I think is a concern for many,” Saunders says.

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Glover spent nearly 19 years as a police officer and served as the MP for the St. Boniface riding. In question period, NDP Leader Wab Kinew claimed Glover’s camp reached out to his party with information in an attempt to damage Stefanson’s campaign.

Click to play video: 'Shelly Glover, Heather Stefanson to be two candidates for PC party leadership'

Shelly Glover, Heather Stefanson to be two candidates for PC party leadership

Shelly Glover, Heather Stefanson to be two candidates for PC party leadership – Sep 16, 2021

Glover denies the claim, saying Kinew is scared of the prospect of going up against either of the two women in the provincial election in 2023.

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The Manitoba PC party elects the new leader on Oct. 30.

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