Former Central Alberta MLA Kerry Towle empathizes with female politican who’s suffered abuse

Hatred is regularly vented at politicians, says former Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA

Former MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, Kerry Towle

BY LANA MICHELIN

ADVOCATE STAFF

When Alberta MLA Sandra Jansen read out the torrent of abuse heaped on her by Albertans this week, it was all too familiar to Kerry Towle.

The former Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA said she received 1,028 angry letters and 750 phone calls when she left the Wildrose Party to join the provincial Tories late in 2014. Most of the comments were “pretty brutal,” recalled Towle, who was slapped down with the C-word that’s used to denigrate women, and was even told her teenage daughter should die.

“It was a dangerous time,” added the former politician, who was astounded she could provoke so much hatred. “I left a party, I didn’t murder my mother.”

One of her campaign posters for the 2015 election was defaced with the drawing of a penis, and a crude suggestion of a sex act she would do to get votes.

“Anybody who watched my Twitter feed regularly would know that it was terrible,” recalled Towle, who empathized after Jansen was called ‘traitorous bitch,’ ‘bimbo,’ ‘tit,’ ‘dumb broad’ — and worse — in angry messages after leaving the PC caucus to join the NDP on Nov. 17.

“I told (Jansen) that I felt bad that she had to go through that. I said I also felt discouraged, (but) didn’t have the strength at the time to release what I went through.”

Although many consider the messages to Jansen sexist, Towle sees them as a sad commentary on incivility and negativity in this age of social media. She feels both male and female politicians are targeted by individuals who feel they “own” them, and can react with aggression whenever their representatives act contrary to their wishes.

Towle was disturbed by the murder of British MP and Brexit opponent Jo Cox, as well as vulgar condemnations of our former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper and his Liberal successor Justin Trudeau. She argued with a man who said Alberta’s NDP Premier Rachel Notley deserves to be shot.

“I said, ‘She is somebody’s mom. Does that mean if anyone disagrees with you, they deserve to be shot?’

Towle feels too many people have forgotten about kindness and the right to free speech and self-determination.

Before losing the 2015 election, Towle, who now works in the private sector, made a point of contacting everyone she could who had vented venom at her. She discovered about 60 per cent had never engaged her in any previous conversation.

Despite this, Towle said she still loved her job as MLA because helping constituents made up for the abuse.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Red Deer area businesses recognized at Business of the Year Awards night

“It’s an honour just to be nominated.” The popular words echoed throughout… Continue reading

Child sex offender should get 12 years: Crown prosecutor

Stuart Peter Hunt has pleaded guilty to 10 child sexual exploitation and pornography charges

Legalizing cannabis cost estimate for Red Deer just under $400k

Although the province of Alberta has announced $11.2 million for cannabis legalization,… Continue reading

WATCH: Every square tells a story: Edmonton expert is exploring Red Deer’s quilting history

Community members can bring in family heirloom quilts for documentation

Red Deer-area dads going through divorce are invited to Man Up

Support group formed to focus on positive activities, networking

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

PHOTO: Say goodbye to City Hall Park flowers

A sure sign that winter is on its way is when City… Continue reading

PHOTO: Chew On This! campaign draws attention to national poverty

Lunch bags were being handed out in front of The Hub downtown… Continue reading

Wickenheiser, Pegula reflect NHL’s trend toward diversity

BUFFALO, N.Y. — With a laugh, Kim Pegula’s competitive nature kicked in… Continue reading

Harry and Meghan bring rain to drought-stricken Outback town

DUBBO, Australia — The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were jokingly thanked… Continue reading

TV Review: A Roseanne Barr-less ‘The Conners’ is a triumph

NEW YORK — Can there be a “Roseanne” without Roseanne? The answer… Continue reading

Canadian manufacturing sales fell 0.4 per cent in August: Statistics Canada

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales fell 0.4 per cent to… Continue reading

Brian Mulroney joins board of directors of New York-based pot company

NEW YORK — Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is joining the board… Continue reading

Canadians waking up to legalized cannabis: ‘My new dealer is the prime minister’

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Canadians across the country woke up to legalized… Continue reading

Most Read