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

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According to Kelly Saunders, professor of political science at Brandon University, Manitoba’s fight to become the next premier is based on political experience.

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Heather Stephenson has more than 20 years of experience in Manitoba’s legislature, but she played a key role in Brian Pallister’s government and Saunders says he may return to the race. Shelley Glover served as a federal cabinet minister under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Saunders says that Glover’s lack of provincial experience may have been a liability.

Saunders says that Stephenson’s time as Manitoba’s health minister during the pandemic may be holding him back, not necessarily in the October 30 PC Party leadership election, but back to haunt him in a provincial election two years in the making. May come if she is elected premier.

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“She’s held a number of important positions, so if you’re looking for someone who can step into the job on day one and do the very important job of being the chief and leading and guiding the province, I think Is, there’s no question, he has really significant and most recent experience to do that job.”

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In contrast, Saunders maintains that Glover was not part of the caucus or that cabinet, so she could separate herself from the government and its legacy, and perhaps demonstrate that she is a different kind of leader.

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

Yet it could also be a loss for Glover, Saunders says.

“She doesn’t have the kind of experience and in-depth knowledge or skills to step into the job on day one,” Saunders says. “It’s not that he doesn’t have the experience of a cabinet minister, but not necessarily at the federal level to be a competent Manitoba premier and to deal with Manitoba files, issues and concerns.”

Stephenson faced heavy backlash for his actions as health minister, particularly during the third wave in Manitoba, for not speaking out against the words and actions by former Prime Minister 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 about his handling of the pandemic in particular. Hence the fact that he served as health minister under his guidance. Sitting there and not talking or expressing her concern about some of the work Mr. Pallister is doing, I think it’s a concern for many people,” Saunders says.

Glover spent nearly 19 years as a police officer and served as MP for the riding of St. Boniface. At Question Hour, NDP leader Wyb Kinew claimed that Glover’s camp reached out to his party with information in an attempt to sabotage Stephenson’s campaign.

Glover denied the claim, saying that Keanu fears the prospect of going up against either of the two women in the 2023 provincial election.

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The Manitoba PC Party elects a new leader on October 30.

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