PC leadership candidate Glover pledges to heed public health advice, but still opposes 'economic lockdowns'

Progressive Conservative leadership hopeful Shelly Glover says she will heed expert public health advice if she becomes Manitoba premier — but continues to oppose what she describes as "economic lockdowns."

Former MP softens position on vaccination inducements, claiming more clarity needed about COVID testing

PC leadership candidate Shelly Glover, who hopes to become premier on Oct. 30, says her 'real life experience' makes her better positioned to defeat the NDP in the 2023 provincial election. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

Progressive Conservative leadership hopeful Shelly Glover says she will heed expert public health advice if she becomes Manitoba premier — but continues to oppose what she describes as "economic lockdowns."

"I would listen to Dr. [Brent] Roussin and his team of experts who know this much better than I do. I think they've done a really good job, given the challenges," Glover said Friday, while also stating she does not believe in pandemic-mitigation measures that negatively impact businesses.

"Economic lockdowns are very different. That's business-related compared to the health-care sector, right?"

In a wide-ranging interview spanning 45 minutes, the retired Winnipeg police officer and former Conservative MP said she is best-suited to become Manitoba's premier due to what she describes as more life experience than the only other person on the PC leadership ballot, two-decade Tuxedo MLA Heather Stefanson.

Just like her competitor, Glover could not elucidate detailed policy positions on education reform, a made-in-Manitoba carbon tax or improving the quality of personal care homes.

She also softened her position on Manitoba's plan to require some public servants to get their COVID-19 vaccine shots or face frequent testing — while continuing to insist the vaccination inducement will result in job losses.

The province plans to require all employees who work with vulnerable people to get fully immunized by the end of October or face COVID-19 testing if they choose not to get their shots. There are no plans to dismiss any workers who choose not to get their shots.

Glover nonetheless insisted the plan will result in "the depletion of our health-care workers during a time when we need the most" because Shared Health has not yet finalized the testing component of the plan.

"The frontline workers were telling me, 'We don't know how this is going to work. We don't know if we're going to have jobs,'" said Glover, citing anecdotal evidence from unnamed sources to claim unvaccinated "dietitians, janitors, maintenance people, nurses, health-care aides [and] doctors" are so confused, they are seeking other employment.

"The information has to flow to them as soon as possible."

Glover reiterated a campaign-launch pledge to expand Manitoba's intensive-care capacity by enlisting military help to build COVID-19 field hospitals.

She also said she would increase funding to personal care homes by an unspecified amount, improve care for residents by placing a seniors' advocate in government but has no interest in Quebec-style public hearings into the deaths of hundreds of personal-care home residents during previous waves of COVID-19.

WATCH | PC leadership candidate Shelly Glover sits down for a one-on-one with Bartley Kives:

PC leadership candidate Shelly Glover speaks

3 months ago
Duration 6:18
Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Shelly Glover speaks about the pandemic, her past and what she would do as premier. 6:18

Unlike Stefanson, who said she will consult Manitobans before proceeding with a delayed one-percentage-point cut to the provincial sales tax, Glover ruled out the possibility of forgoing revenue while the pandemic continues.

"I'm not going to put a dollar value on human life. I don't care what it costs," she said. "We're going to protect human life and the public safety and the welfare of Manitobans first, and we'll worry about the money later."

Protecting schoolchildren against COVID-19 is a greater priority than education reform, Glover said. 

She also reiterated pledges to apologize to Indigenous people for comments made by former premier Brian Pallister and to create an Indigenous advisory panel.

She also said she would enlist the help of Indigenous leaders and communities to warn Indigenous people who move to Winnipeg what areas of the city to avoid.

"I think we can influence our young women in the area of how to protect themselves. It's important that when Indigenous people come from reserve to the City of Winnipeg, that they know where the pitfalls lie, that they know the areas where not to go,"  said Glover, who worked undercover during her time with the Winnipeg Police Service and says she has helped relatives exploited by the sex trade.

"We know where the gangs are. We know where the guns are. We know where the exploitation is."

Glover also said she is dismayed by allegations of racism within the police service  but insists the majority of police who are "good cops" bear the burden of accountability for the minority of police who behave badly. She says the police service changed for the worse when she resumed work as an officer after she left public life in Ottawa in 2015.

One thing that has not changed since that year is her opinion the man formerly known as Vince Li should not be allowed to walk the streets of Winnipeg after a judge determined he was not criminally responsible for the beheading and cannibalism of Greyhound bus passenger Tim McLean because he suffered from a severe mental illness.

"I'm still opposed," she said after being asked whether her opinions about criminal responsibility and mental illness have changed since the she left federal office. 

"I can't imagine walking into a grocery store as Tim McLean's mom and seeing the person who cannibalized her son shopping in front of me," she said, suggesting an imbalance between victims' rights and those of mentally ill people who engage in violent acts.

"Medication can help some of these unfortunate souls. But who's making sure that that's happening, right?"

Glover did not lay out any justice priorities if she becomes premier. Like Stefanson, she pledged to ensure MLAs have more autonomy to speak on all matters and said she will be a more collaborative leader than Pallister was when he served as premier.

Glover also suggested she is better positioned than Stefanson to defeat the NDP in the next provincial election, slated for 2023.

"I have real life experience. I'm not a lifetime politician. I've seen things in my police work, in my health-care-aide work, in my volunteer work that allows me to touch many, many more Manitoba souls," she said.

"I think real life people are what Manitobans want as leaders and I know I can beat Wab Kinew."


Bartley Kives

Reporter, CBC Manitoba

Reporter Bartley Kives joined CBC Manitoba in 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years at the Winnipeg Sun and 18 at the Winnipeg Free Press, writing about politics, music, food and outdoor recreation. He's the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada's Undiscovered Province and co-author of both Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg and Stuck In The Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba. His work has also appeared in publications such as the Guardian and Explore magazine.


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