Report says abuse at PC Alberta event can’t be linked to a particular campaign

CALGARY — A report that follows accusations of threats and abuse at an event attended by Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership candidates last month has concluded that none of the poor behaviour could be linked with a particular campaign.

The party says in a news release that two leadership candidates, Sandra Jansen and Jason Kenney, submitted formal complaints to the party’s Leadership Election Committee in early November.

It says the candidates alleged that during the party’s policy conference in Red Deer that month, they were intimidated and harassed.

Jansen quit the leadership race not long after the conference, saying online and in-person abuse from supporters of another leadership candidate became intolerable.

The Calgary-North West member of the legislature then crossed the floor to join the governing NDP.

The party says its report found that although there were documented incidents of rude and ill-mannered behaviour at the conference, there was no direct evidence to prove any particular leadership campaign had directed it.

“Harassment and intimidation has absolutely no place within our party. That behaviour is not tolerated in a workplace or a schoolyard, and should never be tolerated by PC Alberta. We need to raise the bar of political discourse within our party and the province,” PC Alberta President Katherine O’Neill said in the news release.

The release says the report was prepared and presented by lawyer Chris Warren.

Jansen said her nomination forms were vandalized during the conference and she was followed and harassed in the hallways.

Kenney, a former Calgary MP, said at the same convention he had people jabbing him in the chest and shouting expletives at him.

The report noted that campaigns have little control over how members of the public act. It recommends the PCs beef up security at events to handle unruly supporters who aren’t directly connected with particular candidates, and adopt a zero-tolerance policy for abuse within the party, as well as for supporters who attend PC functions.

Blaise Boehmer, a spokesman for Kenney’s campaign, said Kenney has repeatedly condemned threatening language and conduct.

“Our campaign has strived to exhibit a positive and respectful tone throughout. Neither Jason nor any member of the campaign staff has engaged in personal attacks against other candidates. We are pleased that the report corroborates this fact,” Boehmer said in an email.

Jansen could not be immediately reached for comment.

She was one of two leadership candidates who quit the race. The other, former Calgary PC legislature member Donna Kennedy-Glans, said she was concerned the party is pushing away moderates.

Jansen also noted she feared the PCs are moving to the hard right on social issues and now feels more at home in Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP.

The PCs pick a new leader in a delegated convention March 18.

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