PHOTOS: MLA Sandra Jansen makes an impassioned plea in the Alberta Legislature on Nov. 22, calling out the hate and misogyny she has endured since announcing she was running for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party. On that occasion, the PC members in the House joined the standing ovation she received from her new caucus colleagues in the NDP. Below: PC leadership candidate Jason Kenney, who says he was bullied too, and PC Party President Katherine O’Neill.

The “independent third-party investigator” engaged by Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party to look into complaints of harassment against certain candidates for its leadership has concluded there’s no “direct evidence” anyone was responsible for anything.

OK, something happened. But while there was some evidence of “ill-mannered” behaviour, the report by a Calgary-based security and investigation company, as written up by a former PC Party president, indicated it just couldn’t be linked to any particular candidate’s campaign.

“What the investigators could not find was a link to say that any specific party directed this behaviour,” explained current party President Katherine O’Neill in a CBC news story.

Just in case you missed it, the actual incidents of harassment the PC Party was supposed to be looking into were those directed against Sandra Jansen, who at the time was a candidate for the leadership of the party. It happened during the PC policy convention in Red Deer last month. Ms. Jansen was harassed because she was a member of the party’s progressive wing, and, as happens all too frequently in Alberta politics nowadays, because she is a woman.

Ms. Jansen was assailed in the hallways of the convention hotel by people who were identified at the time as supporters of Jason Kenney, the social conservative former Harper Government federal cabinet minister who is running to lead the PCs and merge them with the Wildrose Party.

All of this is pretty hard to dispute, notwithstanding the vague findings of the investigators engaged by the party, whose notes were then turned into the report that was made public by lawyer and former PC Party president Chris Warren.

Ms. Jansen expressed frustration with this outcome of the investigation, as well she might. But I doubt she was very surprised.

There are those who will say the PCs have little interest in following up on this matter because she has since left the party in disgust and joined the NDP Government. It’s more likely Ms. Jansen left the party in disgust because she could be pretty confident it had no interest in following up on the harassment she was subjected to in a meaningful way.

If you’re a woman, or a man for that matter, who holds liberal views and you complain of harassment by the right in Alberta, you will nowadays be dismissed as a delicate “snowflake” by Alberta conservatives. The implication is that you can’t take the normal rough and tumble of politics, a game played with the elbows up, bien sur.

But it must be noted that what was dished out to Ms. Jansen had nothing to do with normal robust political discourse.

This is an ironic tactic by the right, it must be added, since conservatives with their continual whining about how they’re traumatized by “political correctness” are the very first people to whine and blubber when anyone forcefully takes issue with them. So it should come as no surprise that soon after Ms. Jansen’s complaint, Mr. Kenney claimed that he too had been a victim of intimidation and harassment.

This rather reminded me of the upstairs neighbour my wife and I once had who responded to our complaints about the noisy dance parties he threw into the wee hours most weekends by complaining about the annoying padding sounds made by our stocking feet in the mornings while he suffered through his hangovers.

Well, at least the investigators from IRISS Corp., “a consortium of investigators and risk-management professionals,” found that Ms. Jansen had suffered more abuse than Mr. Kenney.

The investigation company, by the way, was misidentified in some news stories, whose authors apparently confused it with an oilfield service corporation with a similar name.

For her part, Ms. O’Neill indicated she doesn’t think the PC Party has a problem with sexism.

And as for Mr. Warren’s role, she said: “IRISS was hired to confidentially conduct all the interviews etc. as a third party; they sent the interview notes, their findings and two recommendations to Chris to write a final report for the board; he was our legal counsel and yes, is a former party president and has remained neutral in this leadership race. Many of the people who were interviewed didn’t want their names released publicly.”

Ms. Jansen told the CBC that “from the moment I started thinking about entering the race my Facebook page … was filled with filth. I don’t believe that any kind of that kind of filth was directed at Jason Kenney.” Anyone who has been paying attention has observed much the same thing.

Still, I guess if people aren’t willing to take responsibility for their own actions or those of their supporters, no inconvenient links to a particular campaign can ever be proved. Now move along, please. There’s nothing to see here, folks.

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  1. Typical right wing problem solving skills- if we say it didn’t happen, then it didn’t happen even if there is proof it did happen, we insist that it did not happen, so there all fixed!!

  2. Why would anyone be surprised at this report? The Party got exactly what they wanted and what they paid for.

    More revealing questions would be what were the terms of reference, how many people were interviewed, and what was the nature of the questions put to them?

    It is akin to getting good survey results. If you ask the questions in a certain manner you will get the survey results that you want.

  3. I talked to Charlie Farquherson and he weighed in on the joke as he sees it:
    With yer Personal Correct Party (PC) usin’ ISIS to manufacture disconsent it’s a bit of a misnooner don’t cha think. I real knee slapper as Betty Peabody was fund of sayin’ at irregular moments.
    Back in the day when yer Trudda liberals in the House of Common from Uppitty Canada wanted something done they just sent the boys out into the snow, hopin’ they’d find a message letting dem know which way the wind was blowin’. This Jansen lady seems nice enough, but I figure she got betwixt a rock and hard place and had no intercourse but to withdraw and leave the Personal Correct party before ISIS brought the hammer down.
    Now I don’t like tellin’ tales out of school, but I figger this Jason Letterkinny feller, who many think is a parrygone of vichew, is a little to blame for these shinninigans. That’ll be your history, makin’ everyone repeat themselves. It’s like ole Bob Loblaws from Parry Sound used to say, “You can pick yer wife but your wife can’t pick diddly squat.” As an after-word, I’d say it be a goldarn shame if anybody but yer Renewed Democrates formed the next guvermnent. We learnt our lessons the last time with the friggin’ Personal Correct Party, dontcha think?

  4. Yes she was disproportionally targeted by internet trolls, but Sandra quit because she was losing. I am afraid it it just that simple. The timing (she quit the day before having to put down her leadership fees) and her subsequent actions (floor crossing) show that she is just as much of a calculating politician as most of the rest of them.

  5. Mr. Kenney seems to have in this case plausible deniability – he can appear to gravely and sincerely say he had no idea his supporters were behaving so badly. As a bonus, the PC party has made it easy for him – he didn’t even have to throw them under the bus, face another fine or some other sanction against himself or themselves. All he got what a “don’t do it again” warning.

    Of course, there are no more women running in the PC race, so he doesn’t actually need to do it again. He has achieved what he wanted – to drive two moderate candidates out of the race and one out of the party. They would have never fit in his merged right wing social conservative led party anyways.

  6. I would like to think that we had learned our lessons, as Charlie says, but I am more pragmatic than that. The reasoned arguments made by politicians who value debate and public discourse, fall on the deaf ears of those who only want their truth in raging sound bites.
    How will we ever change this back?

  7. “…Mr. Kenny claimed that he too had been a victim of intimidation and harassment.”

    What, where, when? Was he deprived of pie at the convention banquet? Did a baddie egg the windshield of his Dodge Ram? Make fun of his suspenders? Insult his dog?

    Dates and facts please.

    1. He cannot provide dates, or point to specific incidents, because in truth it never happened, except in his mind.

  8. So, maybe it’s true that this was not an organized, centrally-directed campaign of harassment arising out of the Kenney (or any other) campaign … That doesn’t negate the fact that hard-right factions of Alberta’s sundry conservative political groupings have created the atmosphere in which this conduct by their rank & file activists has become socially acceptable in certain circles. Remember #kudatah? Rachel Notley’s face on targets in a golf course’s driving range? All this and more has arisen from the hard right, and more moderate conservatives have at least tacitly condoned it.

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