Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

No-nonsense MP dedicates life to her job

Glover brings vast experience to cabinet

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A decade ago, Const. Shelly Glover stood in the downtown police station next to a half-dozen large bags of fresh marijuana to showcase a seizure made by police two days earlier.

One hand on her hip, a stern look on her face, it was one of her earliest press conferences as the new spokeswoman for the Winnipeg Police Service after several years of patrolling city streets.

It was also the first opportunity for Winnipeggers to get a taste of her no-nonsense, us-versus-them, law-and-order view of the world in which police were the champions of public safety.

She's now made a successful political career out of that. Extremely successful.

"One day I'm knocking on doors and doing raids where crack cocaine is prevalent and there is sexual exploitation going on because of the pimps, and the next day, I'm knocking on the doors of the House of Commons," Glover said in a brief interview Tuesday.

"I want to thank the voters of St. Boniface for installing that confidence in me."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper promoted Glover to his cabinet Monday as the new minister of Canadian heritage and official languages. He also gave her a seat on his priorities and planning cabinet committee in which all key decisions are made before they become public. Portage-Lisgar-MP Candice Bergen was also promoted to cabinet, getting the junior portfolio of minister of state for social development.

Glover said she is now Harper's right-hand woman in Manitoba, a position that was officially confirmed Tuesday.

"I've been in the position for 47 seconds," she said, describing the past 24 hours as a whirlwind of briefings as she gets updated on her new portfolio. She said her first priorities are setting up a regional office and booking times when she can meet Premier Greg Selinger, Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz and other municipal leaders around the province.

For most of her career in law enforcement and as the Conservative MP for St. Boniface (she was first elected in 2008), Glover has maintained a tough exterior.

Only more recently has she lowered that veil to show Manitobans a depth of character rarely scene on the national political stage.

In a very personal interview with the CBC in January 2012, Glover described her upbringing as challenging. Though loving, alcohol was a "big problem" in the household and Glover witnessed many fights between her parents.

She recalled returning home one night at age 15 and seeing what she thought was red Kool-Aid in the snow on the driveway. In fact, it was her father's blood, the result of a stabbing by her mother.

As a teenager, Glover became pregnant and went to a school for pregnant teens. One of Glover's four siblings was addicted to crack.

In her early 20s, Glover joined the Winnipeg Police Service, where one of her first assignments as an officer was working undercover as a prostitute. While trolling for johns, Glover encountered some of the girls she went to school with as a pregnant teen, now working the streets.

"I realized I could have gone down another track," Glover told the CBC.

Glover said her reason for entering politics was to take what she learned on the streets as a police office to make the community better.

"My goal was to raise awareness of the suffering of victims," she said.

Glover attends Winnipeg's gay pride parade nearly every year and has opposed nearly every measure in the House of Commons restricting abortion rights.

But she is a fiscal conservative. According to openparliament.ca, the word she uses most frequently in the House of Commons is "tax."

Destiny Watt, a Tory activist, served as Glover's co-campaign manager in 2008 and again in 2011.

"I just felt she was a very dynamic and very energetic person," Watt said Tuesday. "She listened very closely to people. She pays very close attention to detail."

Watt also said Glover works hard and will be at her office in Ottawa until 11 p.m.

"She has essentially dedicated her life to being an MP," Watt said.

Issues that get her fired up include, obviously, crime and public safety, as well as the economy and jobs, Watt said.

Also beaming at Glover's appointment (she replaces retired Provencher MP Vic Toews as senior minister for Manitoba) is Manitoba Metis Federation president David Chartrand.

Glover is Métis.

"She's a great choice," Chartrand said. "She's always done a great job for Manitobans and the Métis. Clearly, she's got a big task."

Chartrand, who received the Order of Manitoba on the same day Glover was appointed to cabinet, said the MMF has already arranged for a traditional Métis vest to be made and presented to Glover.

Chartrand said he hopes Glover's Métis heritage won't put her in a conflict of interest in supporting the MMF's plans for a Métis museum at the new Upper Fort Garry Heritage Provincial Park to be developed on Main Street near Broadway.

He said the museum was supported by Charleswood-St.James-Assiniboia MP Steven Fletcher when he was a cabinet minister. Fletcher was demoted from cabinet Monday.

"I hope I don't have to start from square one," Chartrand said.

Glover is somewhat of an unknown quantity to the provincial NDP or city hall, both used to dealing exclusively with Toews or Fletcher, who was quarterbacking transportation funding.

Selinger said Tuesday that won't be an issue.

He said he anticipates a seamless transition in dealing with Glover.

"I think we'll be able to pick up and work together rather readily. We've done it in the past, we've done it in the present and I anticipate we'll be able to do it in the future," Selinger said.

Selinger said he had not spoken with Glover since her appointment, but plans to get in touch with her soon.

The two leaders represent St. Boniface in their respective legislatures and see each other at numerous events.

"I've worked with minister Glover before when she was the parliamentary secretary for francophone affairs and, of course, we collaborated on those kinds of projects here," Selinger said.

Glover, an avid soccer player, is more of a sports fan than arts-lover. She is not seen often at Winnipeg theatre, dance or visual-arts events though she is a supporter of Le Cercle Moliere theatre and the Festival du Voyageur in her riding.

Winnipeg Centre NDP MP Pat Martin also said he is looking forward to working closely with both Glover and Bergen to address regional concerns, and to "make sure our province gets its fair share of Ottawa's great largesse."

"Let's face it, the role of a regional minister is to bring home the bacon," Martin said. "I'm pretty sure both Shelly and Candice get that... if they don't, I'll be there to remind them."

 

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

maryagnes.welch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 17, 2013 A4

History

Updated on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 8:05 AM CDT: replaces photos, corrects spelling of Métis

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