Rather than wanting to unseat any member of the Tory caucus, a candidate who is vying to be Manitoba’s next premier is inviting them to join her at the table.
Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Shelly Glover on Wednesday denied accusations, which were made by rival Heather Stefanson, that she would have people challenge PC caucus members for the nomination in their constituencies.
"I want to be very clear: I want to welcome the entire caucus to the table because I believe in inclusivity and I don’t have any favourites. I don’t have any enemies," Glover said in an interview. "There’s a lot of work to do and I look forward to working with them."
After the two candidates participated in a town hall debate Tuesday night, Stefanson told the CBC she’s concerned about how Glover will treat PC caucus members if she wins. "What I’m very concerned about is Nov. 1. I think if she ends up being our premier, how does she get along with all the caucus colleagues that she’s told actually she’s going to run someone against them in their nominations, that she’s going to fire them."
On Wednesday, Glover denied saying that to anyone or even considering it. "Leaders don’t even nominate candidates — the members do," she said.
"The leader does, traditionally, have the final say," said University of Manitoba political studies professor Christopher Adams.
"Someone couldn’t be nominated from the Ku Klux Klan to run in St. Norbert or River Heights," for example, Adams said.
Brian Pallister encouraged nomination battles for constituencies and vetoed candidates who sought the nomination, he said.
"I’m super disappointed that Heather believes that the leader of the PC party can arbitrarily choose, or disqualify candidates for a nomination like that," said Glover. She suggested it’s a "hangover from the Pallister days of a top-down leadership style."
When asked on Wednesday to say which caucus members Glover purportedly threatened to unseat, Stefanson wasn’t made available for comment. Instead, her campaign issued a statement.
"We have had MLAs say constituents have told them that Shelly has said she will run open nominations in many of the ridings, and they can’t understand how or why she could or would do that," Stefanson’s campaign said.
"We stand by our caucus members as they have the experience and the talent to be ready on Nov. 1st to hit the ground running, take on the challenges of rebuilding our economy, and the best chance to beat Wab Kinew and the NDP."
In another PC leadership controversy, Glover blamed an "overzealous volunteer" for sending out a message this week that claimed federal Tory Peter MacKay had endorsed Glover. MacKay took to social media Tuesday to say he hadn’t endorsed Glover or Stefanson.
The letter from Glover’s campaign was trying to sell party memberships to support her bid for leader. Those who purchase or renew their membership by 5 p.m. Friday can vote for party leader. The original deadline was Sept. 30 but was moved to Oct. 1 in recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. "They did not want our deadline to interfere with the observance of that very important day," PC party spokesman Keith Stewart said Wednesday.
He said membership sales are "brisk" but the party won’t issue an update until all incoming memberships are verified after the deadline. Once the voters list is set, the party will provide an update on the final number of members and voters, he said.
Stewart couldn’t say how many requests for membership refunds had been made after PC leadership hopeful Ken Lee was disqualified from running without explanation.
Each party member can cast a vote for leader.
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.