MLA Sandra Jansen honoured for stance on bullying by group that advocates for abused Alberta women

WARNING: The following article and videos contain language some readers might find offensive.

Calgary – North West MLA Sandra Jansen has been named an honorary member of the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS) because the organization says she shone a light “on the dark reality of how women are treated in politics – and the courage that it takes to address it.”

Late last month, just days after leaving the Progressive Conservative party to cross the floor and join the New Democrats, Jansen delivered hard-hitting speech in which she outlined the type of abuse she had received since switching parties.

READ MORE: New Alberta NDP member Sandra Jansen urges colleagues to fight harassment

Watch below: In a member statement to the house on Nov. 22, 2016, new Alberta 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. Jansen said she’s been called some terrible things, which she listed.

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    “Dumb broad. A good place for her to be is with the rest of the queers,” were among the disturbing messages Jansen read in the Alberta legislature on Nov. 22.

    She also said she had been labelled “dead meat,” a “useless tit,” and was told that she should stay in the kitchen.

    “If you are stunned by the words you have heard in the last few days, if you reject the inherent violence behind them, and you know that harassment and abuse – even if it’s verbal and even if it’s online… let us be strong and clear in our resolve that no matter where we sit along political lines we stand together against this,” she told her fellow MLAs that day.

    A day after Jansen’s impassioned speech, it was revealed the MLA would be given a security detail as a result of ongoing threats made against her.

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

    On Wednesday, the ACWS bestowed the honour on Jansen and said the decision to make her an honorary member was a unanimous one by the board made on Friday.

    “Rarely does violence erupt from nowhere, it usually starts with words. Not harmless words, but put downs that often progress to daily humiliation,” the organization said in a statement. “These insults can come from a loved one, your boss or in the case of Sandra Jansen, your colleagues and fellow citizens.

    “Unfortunately, Ms. Jansen’s experience is not new; far too many career women and politicians have tolerated mean-spirited and misogynistic language on the job.”

    “She is an excellent role model for any woman or girl who has been subjected to bullying, verbal abuse and threats to her safety,” Brenda Brochu, the ACWS board president, said in a statement. “She courageously revealed to her colleagues, her constituents, and the electorate, squarely in front of the camera lens, the malicious comments communicated to her.”

    READ MORE: Alberta youth say online attacks aimed at female politicians won’t deter them

    “In this instance, the bullies have met their match,” Jan Reimer, executive director of the ACWS, said in a statement.

    November was a tumultuous month for Jansen. Prior to crossing the floor, she had recently dropped out of the PC party’s leadership race citing harassment and a”hostile takeover” of the party by factions not accepting of centrist views. She said “insults were scrawled on my nomination forms” and that the experience had left her “shaken.”

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

    Watch below: Two women running in the leadership race in Alberta have pulled out. As Tracy Nagai reports MLA Sandra Jansen said the last straw came at a leadership forum in Red Deer.

    The ACWS says it awards an honorary membership to people “who have made outstanding and long-term contributions in assisting women and families in abusive situations, and to the activities of the ACWS.”

    The organization acts as an ambassador for women’s shelters in Alberta.

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