Shelly Glover nearly won Manitoba PC leadership, despite raising 1/3 as much as Heather Stefanson

Shelly Glover came close last fall to becoming Manitoba’s premier — and she did it with a third of the donations of the eventual winner, Heather Stefanson.

In new filings with Elections Manitoba, Glover’s campaign reported $188,484 in contributions to help in her bid to lead the Progressive Conservative party and, in turn, become premier.

Stefanson was seen as the establishment candidate and was powered by $576,625 in donations, including from many of Winnipeg’s business elite.

The race, however, was much closer than political observers expected at the outset, as Glover came within just 363 votes of Stefanson.

A relative outsider, Glover promised, like Stefanson, to be a collaborative premier, but she also made overtures to critics of pandemic restrictions by opposing mandatory vaccination or testing for some front-line workers.

The former Conservative member of Parliament went to court to challenge what she saw as irregularities in the leadership voting process.

In affidavits, she claimed the total vote count fluctuated on election day and ballots were not secured, but a judge dismissed her application.

Glover’s donors included former Conservative MP Lawrence Toet, Winnipeg developer Andrew Marquess and Glover herself, according to the Elections Manitoba filings.

She was also backed by businessman Peter Ginakes, who had sued the Progressive Conservative government under Brian Pallister for cancelling the province’s lease of a home for at-risk kids.

Another Glover supporter was Taras Sokolyk, a former chief of staff under premier Gary Filmon. A provincial inquiry said Sokolyk plotted to induce an Indigenous candidate to run in the 1995 election to take votes away from an NDP candidate.

Glover said she hasn’t seen the entire list of donors yet, but she’s grateful to everyone who contributed and prevented the leadership race from becoming a one-person coronation.

She said she didn’t give much consideration to the money she’d have to raise.

Shelly Glover, left, and newly elected Progressive Conservative Leader Heather Stefanson embrace after the leadership results are announced in October 2021. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

“If people believe in what you’re doing and they trust that you will do what you’re saying, quite often they open their wallet,” Glover said.

But “it was much more about making sure that all conservatives had a chance to have a race that would obviously raise the profile of the party and members would benefit because, unlike other elections, this one was to choose the premier of the province,” she said.

Glover’s leadership campaign spent a total of $187,949, which included almost $47,000 on advertising, $43,000 on salaries and honorariums, and $25,000 on polling.

Stefanson’s total campaign bill came in at $562,000, which included higher spends than Glover on advertising ($97,000), salaries and honorariums ($120,000), and polling ($85,000).

Glover’s filing also includes $4,400 in legal fees. 

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