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Murray's exit not payback: Glover

Denies dismissal due to delays, spat with Aspers

Shelly Glover with Stuart Murray in August. She says this phase of the museum's life requires a unique skill set.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Shelly Glover with Stuart Murray in August. She says this phase of the museum's life requires a unique skill set.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/10/2014 (1918 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — Heritage Minister Shelly Glover says she is disappointed the Canadian Museum for Human Rights wasn't entirely ready for its grand opening but denies that or any disputes with the Asper family led to the dismissal of CEO Stuart Murray.

Murray's term as the head of the new national museum will come to an end Nov. 1 after the government decided not to renew his five-year-contract. The decision, made public last week, shocked many, including Murray himself who said the "end came sooner than I expected."

Glover said Murray was hired for the "creation and construction phase," and now the museum is open, it needs someone else to take the helm.

'... Were it not for Prime Minister Stephen Harper's commitment to making it a national museum, it would never have happened. But you would never know that from the articles that have been written' — Heritage Minister Shelly Glover

"We're now going into the next phase, which is the operation of the museum, which really requires a completely different skill set," Glover told the Free Press in an interview.

Glover did not elaborate about what skills Murray may have been lacking, but said she wants to thank him for what he did in the five years he was there.

"Really, I want to thank him for all that he's done because this museum would not be the success that it is," said Glover.

Sources told the Free Press Murray's ouster came despite a recommendation by the museum board to keep him on, which means the decision was made in Ottawa. The sources said Murray's departure comes in part due to construction delays that meant only four of the museum's 11 galleries were ready for the Sept. 19 opening ceremonies.

They also suggested, however, it was because Glover and other Tories were upset after former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien delivered a speech at a donors' gala the night of the museum opening, which championed his own role in the museum's history. The Chrétien government agreed to put capital dollars toward the project but never agreed to make it a national museum, which meant taking on operating funding.

That didn't come until 2007, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper made that call, saving the project most knew could not survive as a private operation.

Glover called such speculation "completely inappropriate." She did, however, complain Harper and the Conservative government's role in making the museum a reality has largely been overlooked by the Free Press and other media.

"The fact that it's a national museum, Gail Asper has said it a million times and I agree wholeheartedly, were it not for Prime Minister Stephen Harper's commitment to making it a national museum, it would never have happened," Glover said. "But you would never know that from the articles that have been written."

Glover said she is upset she was kept in the dark about the delays in gallery construction by museum staff. She said she visited the museum regularly over the summer and became concerned the closer the opening got.

"There is no secret to this. Are you going to be ready or aren't you going to be ready? The fact that I had to actually go there and see it for myself to figure out that what they were telling me wasn't exactly what I was seeing, that was disappointing."

Glover said the board will oversee the process of finding a replacement for Murray but she will be invited to make some suggestions.

"I think we ought to take a really good look at who has the best skills," she said.

Once the museum opens the rest of its galleries next month, it will have to start taking stock of its finances in preparation for negotiating its future operating funds from Ottawa. It is guaranteed $21.7 million in annual federal funding through to the end of 2015-16, but beyond that it has to negotiate. Among its future concerns are the still-undetermined payment in lieu of taxes to the city, which could be as high as $8 million.

Glover hinted last week there will not be a lot more money on offer.

"We committed the operational funding, which isn't going to change," she said. "The fact remains they've got a budget and they've got to stay within their budget. It's part of their mandate."

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

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