Both women in the race to lead the Alberta PC Party drop out; one cites harassment and intimidation

Posted on November 09, 2016, 2:41 am
9 mins

PHOTOS: Sandra Jansen, MLA for Calgary-North West, who dropped out of the race to lead the Alberta PCs yesterday. Below: Donna Kennedy-Glans, former Calgary MLA, who did the same thing; political strategist Stephen Carter; PC candidate Jason Kenney.

The story is not likely to get the attention it deserves amid the uproar inevitably surrounding the shocking results of the U.S. presidential election, but the two women campaigning to lead Alberta’s Progressive Conservative party both withdrew from the race yesterday. Both were associated with the more socially progressive wing of the former governing party.

Sandra Jansen, sitting MLA for Calgary-North West and a former minister in premier Alison Redford’s cabinet, said in a news release she was quitting because of harassment and intimidation. Social conservatives associated with the campaign of former Harper Government cabinet minister Jason Kenney are said to be the culprits.

dkgDonna Kennedy-Glans, a former Calgary MLA and Redford cabinet minister, said only that “there is limited opportunity for centrist voices to be heard” in the PC Party today.

Both spoke the truth. Ms. Kennedy-Glans’s diplomatic explanation may have been the understatement of the year!

Ms. Jansen, however, provided more troubling insights into the current state of the PC Party as Mr. Kenney, ably assisted by former prime minister Stephen Harper and the federal Conservative brain trust, moves to execute his planned double reverse hostile takeover of the PCs first, and then the Wildrose Opposition.

The goal of that strategy is not just to set the stage to beat the NDP Government of Premier Rachel Notley in an election by uniting the Alberta right, but to make sure the only choice for conservative voters in Alberta is a party far to the right of the political space the PCs have traditionally occupied.

If this sounds familiar, it is exactly what Preston Manning, Mr. Harper and other Reform/Alliance Party members did to the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in 2003.

Ms. Jansen is still a member of the current Alberta PC Caucus led by interim Leader Ric McIver. She is the only woman in that caucus.  And that is a place that cannot be described by anyone who has been paying attention as a woman-friendly environment. So it would be fair to conclude that Ms. Jansen of all the candidates opposed to Mr. Kenney has borne the brunt of the hostility both from her fellow MLAs and party radicals for her socially progressive views.

carterIndeed, there have been rumblings of a move within the PC Caucus to force Ms. Jansen out for holding views once commonplace in PC ranks but now deemed too progressive for a Conservative. With a nine-member caucus, it would only take five votes to kick her out.

If true, this is an interesting way for a supposedly democratic party to deal with an uppity candidate who dared to speak against a social conservative front-runner with the conservative establishment behind him.

No doubt Ms. Jansen’s recent practice of telling her caucus mates that some NDP policies make sense also rankled other PC caucus members, including Mr. McIver. In the past few days she has also ruffled caucus feathers by daring to suggest, party line notwithstanding, that there’s no way home schooling in Alberta is under attack by the NDP.

At any rate, Ms. Jansen’s news release was forthright and fairly detailed, even if she had nothing more to say to the media. “This past weekend in Red Deer has left me quite shaken,” the statement said. “I have never before experienced harassment like that which occurred up to and including this past weekend.”

The release said harassment online has taken the form of social media messages “filled with filth” – presumably a reference to vicious sexual innuendo and obscenities that have been posted as anonymous comments on the former TV journalist’s campaign social media accounts.

Ms. Jansen’s statement also said “volunteers from another campaign” followed her through the convention hotel in Red Deer, jeering her and her supporters “for supporting children’s rights to a safe school environment,” a reference to her support for legislation protecting the rights of gay, lesbian and transgender children.

kenneyFor his part, Mr. Kenney published a statement saying he is disappointed Ms. Jansen and Ms. Kennedy-Glans have left the race. “It is important to have a range of views and choices in a leadership election such as this one,” he said.

Calgary-based political strategist Stephen Carter, who had been advising Ms. Jansen’s campaign, told the CBC he was shocked by the way she was abused in Red Deer on the weekend.

Mr. Carter said Kenney supporters harassed Ms. Jansen over her support of LGBTQ rights and also “a woman’s right to choose,” another hot-button issue for the social conservatives in Mr. Kenney’s campaign. However, it seems unlikely any of the four busloads of Bible school students Mr. Kenney brought in were involved – they were led back to their buses as soon as they had had their photos snapped with Mr. Harper and voted, then whisked out of town.

Meanwhile the Kenney juggernaut rolls on, crushing anything that gets in its way. There are persistent rumours Alberta Conservative MPs unwilling to support Mr. Kenney’s provincial efforts have been quietly advised they will have trouble getting a future federal nomination if they don’t behave themselves and back their former boss’s man in Alberta.

Ms. Jansen has also been subjected to the right-wing Rebel video blog’s use of pictures of her daughter – whom she strives to keep out of her political life. The domain name is being misused to redirect readers to Rebel stories vilifying her.

Put together, these activities show the PC Party in late 2016 in a baleful light, badly in need of a candidate like Ms. Jansen. But one can certainly see why she and Ms. Kennedy-Glans decided they had had enough.

Ms. Jansen’s accusations prompted a furious storm of debate on social media, with vocal supporters of the Kenney campaign, including at least one who works in the mainstream media, denying there was any harassment and claiming Ms. Jansen’s decision was motivated solely by the recognition she couldn’t beat their man.

Ms. Jansen did not indicate in her statement if she would support another candidate still in the race. But if things are as bad as they seem within the PC Caucus, candidates still in the fight may be wary of accepting the support of a progressive and articulate woman. If that seems like a sad state of affairs for a once-great big-tent governing party, there may not be all that many progressively inclined members left for them to influence anyway.

The departure of Ms. Jansen and Ms. Kennedy-Glans from the contest reduces the number of candidates to four. In addition to Mr. Kenney, they are Richard Starke, the MLA for Vermilion Lloydminster, Stephen Khan, former MLA for St. Albert and briefly a member of Ms. Redford’s cabinet, and Byron Nelson, a Calgary lawyer.

Nominations close on Thursday.

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21 Comments to: Both women in the race to lead the Alberta PC Party drop out; one cites harassment and intimidation

  1. TENET

    November 9th, 2016

    I was afraid of the night, now I am afraid.

    • Kang the barbarian

      November 9th, 2016

      My sympathy for Ms. Jansen and Ms. Kennedy-Glans is not that great. The political violence that at least Ms. Jansen has experienced is just the product of their own political philosophy and the people they supported and associated with for years.

      Their beloved Ralph Klein spread lies about the source of the Alberta deficit aided and abetted by the fundamentalist Stockwell Day. Weren’t they present when nurses and hospital laundry staff were demonized? If they were not, why would they join a group that would do such a thing?

      When political spin matters more than facts to a political movement, (hey Mr. Carter!) it is a small step to political violence and worse. True to form the Conservatives and Wildrose have lied about the farm safety legislation, oil royalties, the carbon tax, and home schooling.

      So Ms. Jansen and Ms. Kennedy-Glans should not be surprised that when you lay down with dogs you get fleas.

      • Farmer B

        November 10th, 2016

        Kang as far as oil royalties go, in a recent article by Chris Varcoe in the Calgary Herald, Jack Mintz discusses the new royalty regime that comes into effect Jan 1 for conventional oil and gas wells. The new regime effective Jan. 1 will “lower the marginal effective tax and royalty rate from about 35% today to 26.7% next year”. So if the PC’s were wrong on oil royalties what are the NDP?

        • Kang the barbarian

          November 10th, 2016

          Would “craven” be apt for the NDP on royalties? It would not be polite to print “where” I think their heads are. Of course the WildCons will still blame the NDP for raising royalty rates.

      • Athabascan

        November 10th, 2016

        I echo that sentiment. There’s a saying, ” You lie with dogs then you get fleas.”

        Perhaps now they will appreciate the kinds of knuckle draggers PCs and Wildrosers are. Next time pick a more progressive party to join.

        Still, it’s kind of sad these two women have chosen to give up trying to civilize the right wing, and basically hand it to a Harperite like Kenney. I guess the job of keeping him and his RWNJs in check will fall to the NDP supporters.

  2. Bob Raynard

    November 9th, 2016

    This combined with the election of Donald Trump. What a good night for people who spend more money on their truck than their education.

  3. Farmer B

    November 9th, 2016

    I think it is very unfortunate both candidates quit. I had great respect for Donna Kennedy-Glans’s decision to leave caucus when Alison Redford was Premier. She came across as very likeable with some very positive policy ideas. Sandra Jansen would probably be more comfortable in the Liberal or NDP party, having said that her outlook on carbon pricing was much more realistic than the present NDP government. As for Stephen Carter he brought us Alison Redford, enough said.

  4. Douglas Connors

    November 9th, 2016

    The purge of moderate conservative voices from “conservative” parties in favour of more American Tea Party-inspired voices began in earnest under Harper.

    When we add to that the fact the Trump’s victory shows that misogyny as a political tactic works…

    You can bet that Jason Kenney is now going to go the full Trump in his bid to unite Alberta’s right… and both the AB PC party and Wildrose party “elites” are going to be massive targets he will aim to take down.

    As well, Kellie Screech is now, OF COURSE, comparing herself to Trump:

    An article on iPolitics ( ) states that “in a fundraising email that went out to supporters early this morning”, she claimed:

    “Tonight, our American cousins threw out the elites and elected Donald Trump as their next president. It’s an exciting message and one that we need delivered in Canada as well.”

    “It’s the message I’m bringing with my campaign to be the next Prime Minister of Canada.”

    “It’s why I’m the only candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada who is standing up for Canadian values. It’s why I’m the only candidate who will ensure that every visitor, immigrant, and refugee will be screened for Canadian values.”

    Notice the beginning of the “I’m the ONLY one who can…” type of rhetoric?

    And our American cousins did not throw out the elites. Rather, they elected the ULTIMATE elite.

    Let’s hope we learned the lesson and nip her aspirations (and those of the other social conservatives and nativists in the running for the CPC’s leadership) in the bud REAL early.

    If you think Trumpism can’t happen here, think again.

    The one major difference: Neither Leitch or Kenney have the personal train-wreck, reality star, charisma that Trump possesses… and now that Trump has won, success will breed imitators and thus they may not be the singular voice in the race engaging in this type of rhetoric, having an open lane to victory all to oneself.

  5. Val

    November 9th, 2016

    if that not just excuse to drop out of race due to others reasons but really true motive – that’s sad.
    on another thought one can thing – how in the hell you plan to run effective leadership of major political force, if you have no guts to stand up against attacks directed at you personally?

  6. Maria

    November 9th, 2016

    It has been clear that the Alberta Right hates progressive ideas, but it now seems that they also hate women. Welcome to ‘little Trumpland’!

  7. J.E. Molnar

    November 9th, 2016

    This is a shameful commentary on democracy in Alberta. As Trump-style politics rears its ugly head in Alberta, one can only hope there are enough level-headed progressives in the province to ensure these unsavoury forces Climenhaga speaks of, never achieve government. Intemperate displays of misogyny and divisive political rancour favoured by the new Alberta alt-right, have no place in 21st century Alberta.

  8. Ken Durham

    November 9th, 2016

    Well I hope this serves as an abject lesson to any conservatives who believe in true equality that Kenney and his merry little band of misogynists don’t know the meaning of the word and they finally make the switch to Mrs. Notley’s NDP, as I did the second I realized how hateful and misanthropic the conservative parties had become.

    We do not want to follow our American neighbours down the dark path they have set themselves on. We want to remain the society the world regards as friendly and welcoming to all people, no matter their gender, belief, or political views.
    Yes, even you conservatives.

    Without you we would have no metric with which to compare those who actually are caring, kind, compassionate, polite, and capable of intelligent discourse.

  9. Albertan

    November 9th, 2016

    There is the reminder, here, of this, and other violent, sexual and death threats directed toward Premier Notley and female Alberta NDP MLAs:
    “Shannon Phillips Shows In 1 Tweet Why It Sucks To Be A Woman In Politics”

    Perhaps we need to rely on the next generation, the millenials, “to turn this planet around.”
    This generation, overwhelmingly, did not support Trump in yesterday’s American election with the surrounding sexual abuse and harassment; misogyny; racism (whitelashing); ridiculous, extremist promises……this generation, largely, and good on them, are not prone to tolerating this sort of guff.

  10. jerrymacgp

    November 9th, 2016

    I wonder how long before one or both of these capable women drops the other shoe & leaves the PC caucus, and perhaps party, for either the Liberals or the Alberta Party (I think crossing the floor to the NDP is highly unlikely). Either one would seem a more congenial fit for them.

  11. Linda Marshall

    November 9th, 2016

    I’m sick at heart. I weep for our neighbours to the south, and fear that soon I’ll be weeping for us.

  12. Sam Gunsch

    November 9th, 2016

    I wonder if Kenney’s playing with fire?
    And WRP too…re e.g. Confederate flag?

    excerpt: ‘…we find some kind of comfort in the person, no matter how ruthless, who shows the drive to get things done…’

    Kenney and fire: i.e. the base he’s playing to gets energized by hardball tactics. But unlike Die Hard’s outcome, hardball could blow up back on him/WRP?

    excerpt: ‘“Popular culture spotlights a clear appetite for bad behaviour as a way of building trust among a public that has become cynical about their leaders,” says Princeton University history professor Julian Zelizer. “In an era when so many institutions have become broken, from the economy to our politics, we find some kind of comfort in the person, no matter how ruthless, who shows the drive to get things done — no matter what — without letting that brokenness stand in his way.”

    “The success of the pop culture anti-hero shows that this country is clearly comfortable with, even enthusiastic about, broadcasting nasty into its living rooms. More than any other candidate, Trump has understood how deeply rooted these feelings have become and he has successfully built an entire campaign around them,” Zelizer wrote for CNN in May.’

  13. David

    November 9th, 2016

    They seem to be going from big tent to small tent very quickly.

    Several few years ago, Alberta had three women leading political parties and a fourth that had a woman run as a serious leadership contender. How we have back slid since then! I think some of this back sliding may have been a reaction to the two female debacles of Alison and Danielle. Jansen in particular had ties to Alison Redford.

    I don’t think the hardball tactics to push out Jansen will play completely well for Kenney. The PCs were a governing party for over 40 year and I suspect a lot of the ones that remain may not take so well to being pushed around by a newcomer.


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