Politicians tend to be the targets of criticism. Premier Rachel Notley’s face became a literal target during a golf tournament last weekend. While it’s not necessarily considered a threat towards the Premier, the use of the cutout is being condemned by many MLAs and is raising concerns about how women in politics are treated.
PC MLA Sandra Jansen said female politicians face constant harassment.
“This conversation has gone to a level where it is frighting and we just don’t want to take it anymore, we don’t want to listen to that kind of behaviour.”
Last December during the turmoil surrounding the Bill 6 debate, energy minister Marg Mccauig-Boyd was too scared to go home, and death threats were being made against the premier on Twitter and Facebook.
Bob Wanner says he’s witnessed some of the threatening and abusive attacks towards his female colleagues.
“It’s not just in one party or the other, all parties are concerned by that. I’ve seen many of them speak, both privately and publicly, criticizing those comments.”
Women aren’t the only targets, men also are threatened for their political views. But Political Instructor Jim Groom says the way men and women are targeted is different.
“With the threats against men it’s because of what they said, and they’re opposing them because of what they’re saying. When it comes to threats against the women politicians it is against them as a person.”
Christina Johnson with the Sexual Assault Response Committee (SARC) said many of the threats against women often get brushed off as jokes, making it seem like acceptable behaviour.
“People think they’re making a joke or think things are funny, but what happens is it leads to more and more increases of violence against women.”
MLAs say regardless of political affiliation or gender, no one should have to deal with being targeted and threatened.
Wanner said it’s one thing to have freedom of speech, it’s another to infringe on a person’s right to safety. “It’s not okay, it’s never okay and that’s not the kind of democracy we aspire for.”
“We shouldn’t have to go out and do our jobs with those kinds of threats hanging over our heads.” said Jansen.
The Alberta Federation of Labour is now calling on the RCMP to step in and investigate threats being made against female politicians.
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