Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Heather Stefanson claims Shelly Glover has threatened to defeat existing PC MLAs or fire them from their duties — an allegation her rival calls “an outrageous lie.”
Stefanson claimed Tuesday evening Glover has told members of the party caucus — most of whom support the Tuxedo MLA in her bid to become Manitoba’s next premier on Oct. 30 — that the former Conservative MP will ensure they are defeated at future nomination meetings or fire them from their roles.
“What I’m very concerned about is Nov. 1. I think if she ends up being our premier, how does she get along with all the caucus colleagues that she’s told actually she’s going to run someone against them in their nominations, that she’s going to fire them,” Stefanson said at the Norwood Hotel following a candidates’ forum organized by the Conservative Club of Winnipeg.
“This is something that she has said and my colleagues are very concerned about it,” Stefanson continued. “I think she needs to address that.”
Stefanson could not say when Glover made these comments or to whom they were made.
“I think it was a statement that was made out there or something, though,” she said.
Glover said the claim has no basis.
“That is an outrageous lie. That is not true. I would welcome her to come say that right here, right now,” Glover said minutes later, after Stefanson left the hotel.
Stefanson’s campaign team later produced an audio recording of Glover promising to ask Education Minister Cliff Cullen to “stand down” on a review of education.
Stefanson made her allegation after the conclusion of an 80-minute forum, two days before the Sept. 30 leadership-race deadline for selling PC party memberships.
The new party leader will be selected through a one-member, one-ballot mail-in vote.
During the forum, Stefanson and Glover fielded questions about advancing reconciliation, recovering from the pandemic, ensuring Manitoba Hydro has enough water during future droughts, improving relationships with municipalities, improving the lives of people with disabilities and providing sustainable funding for health and education.
They also exchanged several political blows.
Glover repeatedly portrayed Stefanson as a backroom politician and implored PC members to allow her to take the party back to its grassroots.
Glover also claimed Stefanson, who served as Manitoba’s health minister prior to the PC leadership race, only worked behind the scenes during the third wave of the pandemic, when Manitoba’s hospitals were overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients and 57 intensive care patients were sent to other provinces.
Glover, who has volunteered at a personal care home, promised never to send Manitoba patients to other provinces again.
Stefanson countered by noting she is the only PC leadership candidate to sign a Manitoba Nurses Union pledge to ensure adequate staffing in hospitals.
Stefanson repeatedly portrayed herself as the only candidate with enough experience to assume the mantle of premier at the end of October.
She claimed Glover is more concerned with building jails than building a better economy — a reference to a Sept. 25 Glover pledge to reopen a Dauphin correctional facility that’s undergoing renovations into courtroom space.
Glover also pledged Tuesday to provide “tangible results” on cleaning up Lake Winnipeg within her first term as premier.
Following the forum, she declined to say what precisely she would remove from the lake, which suffers from an ecological imbalance know as eutrophication, where too many nutrients promote the growth of algae, which then die and deprive the lake of oxygen.
Glover apologizes for erroneous MacKay endorsement
Also on Tuesday, former Conservative MP Peter MacKay issued a statement on Twitter to deny he has endorsed Glover’s bid for premier.
A Glover campaign email cited an endorsement from MacKay, whose named was misspelled.
“Shelly is a proven winner and can and will beat Wab Kinew and the NDP in the next general election,” read the email, which MacKay said he did not authorize.
Glover’s campaign apologized for what it called a misunderstanding between the two former MPs, who are friends.
“The campaign perceived that he was prepared to endorse her,” Glover’s team said in a statement. “The campaign wishes to apologize to Peter as a result.”
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