There is a twinkle in Sue Greetham’s eye these days.
It’s probably there often, because it suits her personality, which more and more people have been getting to know since Greetham threw her hat into the federal election ring in December.
A business woman all her adult life, Greetham never dreamed of going into politics before Chuck Buchanan, a Conservative shaker and mover in the territory, asked her to run against Liberal incumbent Larry Bagnell.
No doubt Greetham’s charisma — her twinkle — has instilled confidence in many business transactions in the past.
But it has taken on a special significance.
Greetham thinks she can win.
“My strength is in building connections between people,” Greetham said last week over lunch at Zola’s Café Dore in downtown Whitehorse.
There are some who know how to use the system better than others, and that’s not fair, she said.
“It breaks my heart.
“People need to be connected to the opportunities that are there for the offering.
“That’s my skill, putting the pieces together.”
Greetham is, in many ways, your typical Conservative.
Raised on a farm in a small community in southern Ontario, she was taught respect for hard work and strong family.
“I was brought up conservative, with strong principles, discipline and conformity to social structures.”
It’s conservative to believe in rules and make them stick for everyone, she explained.
“Without rules, no one can play the game.”
Greetham worked as a realtor for 25 years in rural communities around Brighton, Ontario.
She became an appraiser of industrial property and learned how to do assessments for new federal environmental legislation.
She founded an environmental consulting firm that operated as a liaison between government policy and entrepreneurs.
Once people or businesses are equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to prosper, they are capable of taking care of themselves, she said.
“We’re not a social country; we’re a country of individuals with individual hopes and dreams.”
Greetham started visiting Yukon on vacations in the 1980s.
She moved to the Whitehorse area with her husband in 1996 and immediately started volunteering for local fire and rescue services, a rodeo organization, and a waste-management group at the Whitehorse landfill.
Now living in Marsh Lake, Greetham sits on the Tourism Industry Association Yukon board and helps operate a tourism industry network for the Southern Lakes.
She’s engaged in the community and knows a lot of people, including Bagnell.
“Larry was the first person I called when I decided to run,” she said.
“He said, ‘That’s great, Sue, congratulations.’”
Since that fateful day in December, when Conservative faithful in the territory acclaimed her to be their candidate, Greetham has evolved.
By her own admission, she put her foot in her mouth when asked about the isolated post allowance for Public Service Alliance of Canada employees that the former Liberal government rolled back last summer.
Greetham didn’t understand the issue at first, but after speaking with union officials she agreed they got a raw deal.
Since then, when it comes to policy, Greetham has learned to consult the Conservative platform as though it were gospel.
She often cites tax credits as a means to boost economy and cure social ills.
“We believe all Canadians should have a chance to own or rent their own homes as a basic principle,” Greetham said Thursday night at the CBC all-candidates forum in Whitehorse, in reply to a question about low-income housing.
“Our plan preserves the existing funding put in place in the 05/06 federal budget on social housing.
“In addition, a Conservative government will work with the provinces and municipalities to develop tax incentives for private-sector builders, so low-income city dwellers will have improved access to affordable housing.
“Of course, this stimulates the economy as well.”
She didn’t have the Conservative platform handy when asked about US plans to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge earlier this week, and called the question a “non-issue.”
But on many points, Greetham’s gut instinct is all she needs.
“Criminals have been coddled by the Liberal government,” she said.
“I don’t think that people can be healthy, can work, can live their lives when they’re fearful of crime in the streets in everyday life.
“It used to be something that was very rare and it isn’t anymore.”
She’s not opposed to civil unions between gay couples, but believes the institution of marriage should be reserved for heterosexuals.
Greetham is a pragmatist. She supports public health care but sees private health services as a reality.
“You visit those clinics around Whitehorse and tell me if they’re private,” she said Tuesday at the youth forum.
She takes a well-dressed, no nonsense business approach to things, and expects to take that attitude to Ottawa.
“The Conservatives are going to form the next government, and a Yukon MP other than Conservative would be less than effective in opposition,” she said with a smile, and a twinkle in her eye.