January 21, 2019 2:06 pm
Updated: January 22, 2019 1:27 pm

NDP MLAs Jansen, Cortes-Vargas announce they will not seek re-election

WATCH ABOVE: Another political heavy-hitter has announced she is not running in the upcoming election. As Kendra Slugoski explains, high-profile Calgary MLA Sandra Jansen said after years in public life, it's the right decision for her and her family.

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WARNING: This article contains offensive language. Discretion advised. 

NDP MLA and cabinet minister Sandra Jansen is one of two Alberta MLAs who announced on Monday that they will not be seeking re-election.

In a statement, Jansen said it was not an easy decision but called it the right decision for her and her family.

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READ MORE: Former PC MLA Sandra Jansen joins Alberta NDP

“I am very honoured to have been given the chance to serve,” she wrote, in part. “And I am proud of what I have been able to accomplish on behalf of my constituents, particularly over these last two years.

“I would like to thank those constituents for their unwavering support.”

Two years ago, Jansen crossed the floor to join the NDP from the Progressive Conservative party.

“The dog-whistle politics I heard at the PC policy conference were chilling to me: eroding public education, taking away women’s reproductive rights and trying to out gay kids in schools,” Jansen said at the time. “That is not my Alberta. I reject each and every one of those views and the idea that Alberta should be going backward.”

In November 2017, she was named minister of infrastructure in a cabinet shuffle.

In the statement released on Monday, Jansen called Alberta a better province under Rachel Notley’s “formidable leadership.

“[It’s] more inclusive, diverse and welcoming. Our kids are learning in good schools, our loved ones have the care they need and our economy is more diversified.”

After her decision to cross the floor, Jansen began receiving threats.

“Dumb broad. A good place for her to be is with the rest of the queers,” Jansen read in an impassioned speech to the house about the threats.

The Calgary-North West MLA said she had been labelled “dead meat,” a “useless tit,” and told that she should stay in the kitchen.

WATCH BELOW: Premier Rachel Notley appointed Sandra Jansen to her cabinet. As Tom Vernon explains, the former Progressive Conservative is getting a major portfolio with a particular focus on Calgary. (Oct. 17, 2017).

“Now you have two blond bimbos in a party that is clueless,” Jansen said, reading another message.

READ MORE: Alberta MLA Sandra Jansen given security detail after threats

As a result of the threats, Jansen was given security staff.

During her time in the PC party, Jansen briefly threw her hat in the leadership race. She later dropped out of the race, citing harassment.

In her statement, Jansen said she would do everything in her power to make sure Notley was re-elected in the upcoming election.

WATCH BELOW: Nov. 22, 2016: In a member statement to the house Tuesday, new Alberta NDP MLA Sandra Jansen recounted some of the comments she said have been directed to her since she crossed the floor to the NDP from the Progressive Conservatives last week. 

Also announcing she will not be running in this spring election was Strathcona-Sherwood Park MLA Estefania Cortes-Vargas.

In a statement, she said she would be pursuing different “professional development opportunities” instead.

Cortes-Vargas was one of three openly LGBTQ MLAs, a first in Alberta, in Notley’s government. She was also the youngest Government Whip in Alberta’s history.

“I am appreciative of the work our government has done to continue to break the glass ceiling,” she wrote. “It has always been my hope that it paves the way for more diverse voices to enter our political landscape.”

LISTEN: Mount Royal University political science professor Duane Bratt joins Ryan Jespersen to explain why a pair of NDP announcements Monday bucks past trends of MLAs declining re-election

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Cortes-Vargas served one term as an MLA after winning her seat in the 2015 election.

On Monday afternoon, Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman called the two fierce, hard-working women, but didn’t agree that the two choosing not to run for re-election was an indictation of how the NDP might do in the upcoming election.

“Time will tell,” she told reporters. “The only day that matters is election day. We’re going to keep working hard as a team and I really want to honour the contributions that these two women have made to our government and will continue to right up until our next election.”

The date for the next election has not been announced, but provincial law says it must happen before May 31.

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