Tory MP’s ‘expiry date’ remark draws ageism allegations

Originally published in the National Post on March 29th, 2011. To go to the National Post website please click here

The Tories are facing accusations of ageism after a prominent Manitoba Conservative described a 68-year-old Liberal MP as being “passed her expiry date,” drawing immediate ire from the longtime Grit as well as Canada’s national association representing seniors.

Shelly Glover, the Conservative MP for Saint Boniface since 2008 and parliamentary secretary to the Finance Minister, was referring to South Centre MP Anita Neville when she made the controversial remark — one that may upset a demographic the Tories are actively working to woo.

Ms. Glover was reportedly answering a question as to why a Tory candidate had not yet been named to challenge Ms. Neville in the riding she has held since 2000, when she said: “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.”

Ms. Neville — and later CARP, the national group representing “boomers and zoomers” — released a statement demanding that Ms. Glover apologize to all seniors for “disparaging them” indirectly.

“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 the statement. “For Ms. Glover to refer to me in this insulting way is a slur against all seniors.”

On Tuesday morning, Mr. Glover released a statement of her own clarifying that her remarks were “aimed at Ms. Neville’s performance as an MP, and only that.”

She also took the opportunity to “remind seniors” that the Liberal MP recently voted against the Conservative’s proposed budget measure to increase GIS payments to low-income seniors.

Still, CARP has accused Ms. Glover, a former police officer, of “marginalizing” a significant voting population, noting in their statement that 70% of Canadians over the age of 60 vote regularly.

“[The remarks] raise the question of whether Ms. Glover and her party are committed to the principle that people should be judged on their competence to do a job and not their chronological age,” Susan Eng, vice president of advocacy for CARP, said in the release.

© The National Post

Keywords: ageism, election