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Glover a very busy non-career politician

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Shelly Glover responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons.


Shelly Glover responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons.

Nearing the end of her first year as a federal cabinet minister, Shelly Glover would like you to know a few things.

First, she is loving her dual roles as federal heritage minister and MP for Saint Boniface, even if the learning curve has been steep.

Second, the job has been so busy, she won't be playing any recreational soccer and will only get to ride her motorcycle once this summer.

And third, she is already well along the way to planning her retirement from politics.

Although her ascension to federal cabinet last July may have overshadowed this longstanding promise, Glover is quick to remind everyone she fully intends on returning to the Winnipeg Police Service, from which she is currently and officially "on leave."

"Everyone knows that I'm only in politics temporarily," Glover said in a recent interview in her St. Mary's Road constituency office. "I am not a career politician. I'm going back to police work. There is no doubt about that."

It may seem strange Glover would insist she is not long for the political world only just having ascended to one of the top political jobs in the country. However, Glover continues to maintain she is a huge supporter of term limits and, given the fact Ottawa has not formally embraced them, she's willing to impose one on herself.

The outer limit? Glover said she believes 10 to 12 years in any political office is more than enough. With six years under her belt, that leaves more than enough time for her to leave a mark on this province's political history.

The last 10 months have been, by her own assessment, a bit of a blur. She has been forced to balance a punishing schedule of ministerial responsibilities with constituency duties. Even her political enemies continue to marvel at the time she manages to carve out for constituency appearances, the lifeblood of any re-election aspirations.

Her personal life has suffered, Glover acknowledged, but it has helped that her children are old enough now that they have moved out of the house. On the negative side, however, she has had to endure two serious illnesses in her immediate family over the past year, which led to increased stress and strain.

That has not prevented her from carving out her own place in the province's political hierarchy. Even if that has meant picking more than her fair share of scraps in this, her first year as a cabinet minister.

Traditionally, federal regional ministers and their provincial counterparts try to put forward a united front in public, while sparring (if necessary) in private.

And yet, in a year-end interview last December with the Free Press, Glover demonstrated she's not afraid to bloody a few noses. She blasted the province for disputing federal population estimates, the ongoing battle over control of immigrant-settlement services and concerns the province was unilaterally announcing infrastructure projects involving federal money.

Since that interview, she made national headlines with pointed criticism of Manitoba for not appealing a decision to allow greater liberties to Vincent Li, who was found not criminally responsible for the decapitation of a Winnipeg man on a Greyhound bus.

Glover noted somewhat unapologetically she is managing her new intergovernmental-affairs duties in a completely intuitive fashion.

"I have been told by no one how to act with the province at any time. I just believe wholeheartedly that you always talk to people, particularly people you want to have partnerships with, in a way that will increase the likelihood of that partnership being successful."

Whether or not her style has accomplished that goal is very much up for debate. Provincial New Democrats believe, with good reason, federal Conservatives are trying to throw as many wrenches into the NDP machine here in Manitoba to aid Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister's bid to become the next premier.

Even if her prickly commentary is not part of an organized anti-NDP campaign, it is being perceived that way. In that context, her claim she is trying to build constructive relationships with the province seems a bit strained.

It is important to remember that in political terms, Glover is still somewhat inexperienced. That's often the case for mercurial political figures who accomplish a lot in a relatively short time.

The big question now is whether Glover will get a chance to polish her skills. In most polls, the Tories have been running behind the Liberals now for more than a year. And Glover will face a viable challenge from Coun. Dan Vandal, the likely Liberal candidate.

Saint Boniface -- along with Winnipeg South and Winnipeg South Centre -- is one of those ridings that could be determined in large part by the tenor of the national campaigns. If the Tories continue to run behind the Liberals, Glover will be in for a fight.

Glover, however, is a model of confidence, genuinely unconcerned about the battle coming her way in 2015.

Perhaps that's because, as she is so ready to remind you, she has never lost sight of life after politics.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 26, 2014 B1


Updated on Monday, May 26, 2014 at 7:07 AM CDT: adds photo

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