Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Twenty-six years ago a man walked into l’école Polytechnique in Montreal and killed 14 women. His decision to use violence to make his political statement is sadly not a rare occurrence. We see examples of violence against women every day in our society. As female politicians we are subject to a dizzying array of verbal attacks. Hate a piece of legislation? Then depict the Premier with a pitchfork in her back. That a cartoon as offensive as that is casually passed off as biting satire is bad enough; to do it on the heels of the anniversary of one of this country’s worst examples of violence against women is in startlingly poor taste. We have so far to go as people to understand that the power of the pen and the word to damage is so profound.
We face that responsibility as legislators every day. When we walk into this Chamber, we all have the tools to set an example for the province, but too often we use our time to toss insults across the aisle, to inflame our supporters with gross overstatements of each other’s nefarious intentions, to wound politically. If we face our jobs every day with the intention to be legislators first and partisan politicians later, we might engender more respect from the public. It is easy yelling “commie” or “climate change denier” across the aisle, but taking the higher moral ground requires us all to work a little bit harder.
I don’t believe that there is a single MLA in this room who wants to make Alberta worse. So perhaps it’s time to start using the language of facilitators, communicators, and advocates. There is nothing acceptable about a cartoon of any politician with a pitchfork in their back. It is unfunny, ill-timed, and feels more than a little threatening, but our incendiary words are weapons, too, and when we stop plunging them into each other’s backs and start using them to find solutions to our problems, we create the most powerful weapon of all, the example of leaders who have earned the right to speak on behalf of Albertans.
On December 7, 2015, Sandra Jansen called for respectful leadership in the Legislature.
PC Caucus in the Legislature
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