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Conservative MP Shelly Glover speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Dec. 1, 2009. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Conservative MP Shelly Glover speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Dec. 1, 2009. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Campaign Notebook

Shelly Glover's 'expiry date' quip riles seniors Add to ...

1. An odd way to woo retirees. The Conservatives have run afoul of Canada's national seniors organization after a rising star of the Tory caucus described Winnipeg Liberal MP Anita Neville, 68, as having " passed her expiry date."

Shelly Glover - the Tory incumbent in the Manitoba riding of St. Boniface who is a bilingual police officer and was recently named parliamentary secretary to the Finance Minister - made the controversial remarks in an interview with Global News.

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News reports say Ms. Glover was asked about the fact a Conservative candidate had yet to be named to run against Ms. Neville, who has held the riding of Winnipeg South Centre since 2000. "We need some fresh blood, we need some new people who have some new ideas and who are willing to stand up for their constituents. And I'm afraid Ms. Neville has passed her expiry date," she said.

Ms. Glover's spokesperson later told Global News that the comment was a reference to how long Ms. Neville has held the seat and not a comment about her age.

CARP, a national group that advocates on behalf of seniors and retired Canadians, is not convinced. The organization issued a news release late Monday urging Ms. Glover to retract her comments and apologize.

"Ageism seems to be the final frontier of acceptable discrimination," CARP vice-president Susan Eng said in a statement. "Even when all the parties are actively wooing older voters, a sitting MP thinks this is appropriate…. Ms. Glover should retract her comments about Ms. Neville and apologize to the voters of her riding and Ms. Neville's riding for offending and marginalizing a significant portion of their voter base."

All parties make no secret of the fact that they are trying very hard to target seniors' votes this campaign. Sensing opportunity, the Liberals chimed in themselves Tuesday morning.

"I am not so much offended for myself as I am outraged on behalf of all seniors - especially senior women - whom the Conservatives seem to think are past their 'expiry' dates," Ms. Neville said in a statement. "There are millions of seniors out there who live active and productive lives, who continue to contribute to the Canadian economy by staying in the workforce, whether by choice or because they have to in order to make ends meet and pay the bills.

"For Ms. Glover to refer to me in this insulting way is a slur against all seniors. On their behalf I demand an apology."

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UPDATE Ms. Glover issued a statement on the issue Tuesday morning, just after 10 a.m.

"First of all, I would like to remind seniors in the Winnipeg area that Ms. Neville just voted to oppose the Conservative Government's plan to increase [Guaranteed Income Supplement]payments to the most vulnerable, lowest income seniors in Canada -- a measure that would benefit single seniors by up to $600 and senior couples by up to $840.

"My remarks were clear: I was referring to Ms. Neville's performance as an MP, and only that. In my opinion, Ms. Neville has ceased to be an effective representative of her constituents. I believe someone new, of any age, with new ideas would be a more effective representative for the people of Winnipeg South Centre."

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2. On tap today. The Globe's Jane Taber reports that Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff will unveil his first platform plank Tuesday - a pledge to help low-income Canadians pay for post-secondary education.

Meanwhile, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is in Regina and Winnipeg Tuesday focussing on small business issues. A Tory official says Mr. Harper will "announce an incentive for small businesses to expand and hire new employees."

The official says the party will also "continue to demonstrate the difference between our low tax plan to complete the economic recovery and the Coalition's high tax agenda that would stall our recovery, kill jobs and set hardworking families back."

It is not clear whether Tuesday's announcement is connected to a similar item that appeared in the 2011 budget. It included a Hiring Credit for Small Business, which was described as a temporary measure that would allow a credit of up to $1,000 against a small employer's increase in its 2011 EI premiums over those paid in 2010.

NDP leader Jack Layton is in Brantford to announce measures expected to focus on credit card fees. The NDP will also be highlighting the fact that its tour so far has focused on Conservative ridings.

3. Revisionist coalition history. Conservative campaign manager Jenni Byrne used her Twitter account Monday night to challenge reported comments from Tom Flanagan, a former Harper campaign manager. Mr. Flanagan said this week that Mr. Harper, when he was leader of the Official Opposition, must have wanted to become prime minister in 2004 without an election.

Mr. Flanagan's comments to PostMedia contradict what Mr. Harper said Monday, when he categorically denied that his 2004 news conference announcing he, NDP leader Jack Layton and Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe had written to the Governor-General regarding the potential defeat of the Paul Martin minority Liberal government was part of a plan for him to assume power without an election - the very thing he is currently accusing Mr. Ignatieff of plotting.

"I can't see what other point there would have been in writing the letter except to remind everybody that it was possible to change the government in that set of circumstances without an election," said Mr. Flanagan.

The Conservative response?

"Flanagan agrees he wasn't in Ottawa or involved - only coalition remains the deal with the Iggy [Liberal Party] NDP, Bloc Québecois," Ms. Byrne said on Twitter.

Asked for comment, Mr. Harper's spokesman Dimitri Soudas offered a similar response. "Flanagan didn't know," said Mr. Soudas. "He even said so. And he wasn't in Ottawa."

Follow on Twitter: @curryb

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