November 10, 2016 4:31 pm
Updated: November 10, 2016 8:23 pm

Alberta politicians rally to support women in wake of Sandra Jansen’s bullying allegations

WATCH ABOVE: Female politicians and Calgarians rallied Thursday to support women in the wake if allegations by former Alberta P.C. Party leadership candidate Sandra Jansen, who dropped out due to what she says was bullying.

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A group of women from “all political parties” is set to gather in Calgary Thursday afternoon in the wake of bullying allegations from former Alberta PC Party leadership candidate Sandra Jansen.

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“Bullying is wrong and it is especially wrong coming from those seeking the right to make decisions for Albertans and their families. These are not the kind of role models we need,” said Nirmala Naidoo, who acted as Jansen’s spokesperson when she was still in the PC leadership race.

Calgary MLA Sandra Jansen announced her withdrawal from the 2016 Progressive Conservative leadership race in an email to her supporters Tuesday, citing unprecedented harassment related to her stance on issues including women’s reproductive rights and an alleged “hostile takeover” on the part of the PC party. She declined multiple interview requests with Global News.

READ MORE: Sandra Jansen withdraws from Alberta PC leadership race citing ‘hostile takeover’

Interim leader of the federal Conservative Party Rona Ambrose weighed in on the bullying allegations at an unrelated media conference Thursday, calling politics a “tough sport,” but acknowledging she didn’t know the specifics of the incident.

“Any woman that’s in politics will tell you that they’ve experienced intimidation and harassment,” Ambrose said, adding it’s important to address the behaviour.

“You confront it, you name it, you deal with it—all of us do. And that’s important so that those people that do the harassing and the intimidation and the bullying—and particularly online—are seen for what they are.”

In the email to her supporters, Jansen wrote her experience at the PC Party convention on the weekend in Red Deer has left her “shaken.”

“Insults were scrawled on my nomination forms,” she wrote. “Volunteers from another campaign chased me up and down the hall, attacking me for protecting women’s reproductive rights, and my team was jeered for supporting children’s rights to a safe school environment.”

Watch below: The only two women running to lead the Alberta P.C. Party have suddenly withdrawn and as Gary Bobrovitz reports, both have very different reasons. 

The only other female candidate, Donna Kennedy-Glans, also announced her withdrawal from the leadership race within minutes of Jansen’s email. She told Global News she did not experience bullying or harassment and left because of the “conservative movement within the party.”

READ MORE: 2nd female Alberta PC Party member to withdraw said she didn’t face harassment

Naidoo’s statement said convincing women to run in politics is difficult and behaviour like bullying makes it even harder.

“We need women in politics and it’s hard enough to convince good women to run. The last thing we need is the bullying of brave women into dropping out of races,” Ask Her co-founder Esmahan Razavi said in the release.

Ask Her is a group created in Calgary with the goal of encouraging women to run for municipal politics and support those who enter leadership races.

Naidoo said the group will gather at the Famous Five statues in Calgary’s Olympic Plaza at 4 p.m. She said about 40 women from different political parties were expected to attend.

“I was a journalist for 24 years…and ran in the 2015 federal election for Justin Trudeau in the Calgary Rocky Ridge Riding,” Naidoo said in an email to Global News.

“As a concerned female politician, I feel compelled to call out this nonsense facing women candidates.”

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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