It’s a first in Alberta politics, a PC member crosses the floor join the NDP.
Calgary-North West MLA Sandra Jansen joined the New Democrats Thursday.
Premier Rachel Notley made the announcement at the legislature with Jansen by her side.
“I’m very pleased to announce today that Sandra Jansen has decided to join our team,” the premier said. “Sandra has always been a voice for practical, moderate, progressive policy. She’s now going to be a compelling voice for that approach within our caucus and our government.”
Jansen said the best traditions of the Peter Lougheed legacy in Alberta politics are being pursued by Notley and the NDP.
“To see that legacy being kicked to the curb by extremists who are taking over the PC Party has been heartbreaking to me,” Jansen said.
WATCH BELOW: Former Alberta Progressive Conservative MLA Sandra Jansen joined the Alberta NDP Thursday. Premier Rachel Notley spoke about the move at the Alberta Legislature.
She said the PC policy conference was a wake-up call for her.
“I don’t believe that there has been anything moderate or pragmatic being offered or even discussed by the people intent on taking over the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta,” Jansen said.
“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.
“That is not my Alberta. I reject each and every one of those views and the idea that Alberta should be going backward.
“We are not going to move forward by moving backwards.”
Watch below: Former PC MLA Sandra Jansen said in the first few hours after she withdrew from the PC leadership race, she had 12 messages of outreach from the Alberta NDP caucus before she heard anything from the PC Party.
“The tone that has been brought into Alberta politics belongs in our past and so many people I know believe the same thing,” Jansen said.
She said, first and foremost, before party politics, she is a legislator.
“And I haven’t been able to be an effective legislator and that’s what I want to get back to.”
“There is an important message here for New Democrats, Liberals and people who believe in the mainstream progressive – quite frankly, the Lougheed tradition – within the Progressive Conservative party: we share some very important values and priorities that serve Alberta well in government,” Notley said.
Jansen said there are some wonderful people in the PC Party of Alberta, but added they’re fighting a battle.
Interim PC Leader Ric McIver issued the following statement on Jansen’s decision to join the government caucus:
“While I am disappointed that Calgary-North West MLA Sandra Jansen has chosen to cross the floor to the NDP caucus, I respect her decision and wish her well in her new role. Sandra has been a valued member of our caucus and we know that the government will benefit from her sharp intellect and passion for serving Albertans.”
Notley said Thursday this was the first time in Alberta an MLA had crossed the floor to the NDP.
Jansen will join the government caucus in the legislature when it resumes its sitting Monday.
Watch below: Former PC MLA Sandra Jansen said the best traditions of the Peter Lougheed legacy in Alberta politics are being pursued by Premier Notley and her NDP government.
Jansen announced her withdrawal from the 2016 Progressive Conservative leadership race in an email to her supporters sent Nov. 8, citing harassment and an alleged “hostile takeover” on the part of the PC party. She declined multiple interview requests with Global News.
In the email to her supporters, Jansen wrote her experience at the PC Party convention in Red Deer had 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.”
Party president Katherine O’Neill has said she’s deeply concerned and brought in a neutral third-party investigator to review the incident-something Notley supported, calling Jansen’s allegations “deeply troubling.”
“If a party or a campaign cannot conduct itself in a way to ensure the most basic of rules around inclusivity, for instance anti-harassment, then quite frankly that party or that campaign is not equipped to govern a province,” Notley said Nov. 9.
Jansen alleged a PC candidate was using “bullying tactics” and left her supporters with this advice in the email to her subscribers:
“Work for a candidate who opposes the Trump-style politics imported to Alberta from Ottawa.”
The Calgary MLA has previously spoken out against former federal cabinet minister and MP Jason Kenney’s plan to “unite the right” in Alberta when he announced his leadership bid. He is running on a promise to call for a membership vote to collapse the party, then seek to merge it with the right-centre Wildrose Party, creating a new big tent conservative coalition he said is critical to defeating Notley in the 2019 election.
She also named him in a tweet suggesting his supporters were responsible for inappropriate language on her campaign materials.
In a statement, Kenney said he “regrets” to hear of Jansen’s allegations of “disrespectful” treatment at the PC convention and on social media.
“My campaign has exhibited a positive and respectful tone since it began. Neither I nor any member of our campaign team has engaged in personal attacks against other candidates,” it said.
“If anyone supporting my campaign has made personally disparaging remarks about other candidates, I would ask them to apologize and to participate in a positive and respectful manner.”
So what do Jansen’s constituents in Calgary Northwest think of the move? Many said they voted PC, not NDP and would have preferred that she resigned her seat and the run again in a byelection.
Bill Danyluk talked to Global News.
” I understand her reasons. She was upset with the party and felt that she was abused in certain ways. So I guess its her decision. But the people did vote for her and the party she represented. She should honour that or step down, I think.”
Duane Bratt, politicial scientist at Mount Royal University says the next election will be telling for Jansen.
“Some floor crossers get punished as we saw in 2014 where everyone who crossed the floor was defeated. Or we’ve had other floor crossings where people keep their job.
Bratt is not surprised she left the PCs but was not expecting that she would choose the NDP.
“She has portrayed herself as a centrist, as a fiscal conservative-social liberal and that the PC party no longer represents that-okay fine. There is the Liberal party, there is the Alberta party, she could have sat as an independent.”
-With files from Erika Tucker
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