Shelly Glover’s ‘expiry date’ quip riles seniors

Originally published in the Globe and Mail on March 29th, 2011. To go to the Globe and Mail website please click here

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.

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.”

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.