Politics

Glover rejects demand for apology over 'ageist' remark

Conservative MP Shelly Glover said Tuesday she was not referring to Liberal MP Anita Neville's age in a remark about her "expiry date."
Conservative MP Shelly Glover makes an announcement on behalf of the government in Winnipeg in February, 2011. (Marketwire)

Conservative MP Shelly Glover, accused of making ageist remarks about Liberal MP Anita Neville, issued a statement Tuesday morning that defended her comments and continued to criticize Neville.

Glover found herself accused of insulting older Canadians, an important group of voters in this campaign, on Monday when she said Neville's Winnipeg South Centre riding needs some "fresh blood" and new people who have new ideas.

"And I'm afraid Ms. Neville has passed her expiry date," Glover said in an interview.

Neville, 68, and Glover aren't running against each other. Glover's Manitoba riding is Saint Boniface.

An advocacy group for older Canadians, CARP, immediately demanded an apology from Glover for her "ageist" remarks.

"Even when all the parties are actively wooing older voters, a sitting MP thinks this is appropriate. It wasn't that long ago that women could not vote let alone run for office. So it's doubly disappointing that Ms. Glover chose to attack in this way another woman who's not even in her riding," Susan Eng, vice-president of advocacy for CARP, said in a statement.

"Ms. Glover should retract her comments about Ms. Neville and apologize to the voters of her riding and Ms. Neville's riding for offending and marginalizing a signifcant portion of their voter base," said Eng.

No apology

Glover issued no retraction or apology in her statement Tuesday — she said her comments were not referring to Neville's age.

She said she wanted "to remind seniors in the Winnipeg area that Ms. Neville just voted to oppose the Conservative government's plan to increase GIS payments to the most vulnerable, lowest income seniors in Canada," referring to a measure that was proposed in the March 22 budget.

The Conservative minority government was defeated before a vote on the budget was ever held. The Conservatives, however, say that by voting for a non-confidence motion on March 25, opposition MPs voted against their budget.

Liberal MP Anita Neville in the House of Commons, December 9, 2010. Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press
Glover said in her statement that her remarks were clear. "I was referring to Ms. Neville's performance as an MP, and only that. In my opinion, Ms. Neville has ceased to be an effective representative of her constituents," Glover wrote. "I believe someone new, of any age, with new ideas would be a more effective representative for the people of Winnipeg South Centre."

Glover ended the statement by saying the Conservative government under Stephen Harper "has delivered more for seniors than any other government in Canadian history."

Harper is doing a campaign event in Winnipeg Tuesday afternoon.

Neville's riding in the city currently has no Conservative candidate. Raymond Hall was the nominated Conservative candidate but dropped out a few weeks ago and he has not yet been replaced. Neville has held the seat since 2000. In the last election in 2008, she beat her Conservative opponent by about 2,300 votes.