Sandra Jansen, MLA for Calgary Northwest, is considering running for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party.
With that in mind, it astounds me that Ms Jansen feels at liberty to offend the 4000+ concerned Albertans who attended the Parents for Choice in Education rallies in Calgary and Edmonton this past Saturday.
One would think she would be more careful when labeling thousands of Albertans with claims of misinformation, fear and intolerance.
Using such bold, sweeping overgeneralizations, especially on the basis of one tweet with a quote of eight words taken completely out of context, is a questionable decision when attempting to garner support of Albertan voters.
As someone who was actually present at the Edmonton rally, as both an organizer and the MC, I would like to question Ms Jansen’s conclusions:
On what basis is “Progress Alberta” making claims of our rally being “anti-Trans”?
And based on what evidence is Richard Einarson claiming that those in attendance at the rallies “don’t support acceptance of LGBTQ people as full & equal citizens in Alberta”?
And, most importantly to Albertans, on what basis does MLA Sandra Jansen feel justified to base her understanding on such claims?
In advance of the rally, constituents hand-delivered printed rally information packages to many MLAs across the province, including to Ms Jansen. She cannot claim ignorance of our purposes and goals. Provided in the overview letter of that package is the statement from Donna Trimble, Executive Director of Parents for Choice in Education:
Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) does not oppose or support Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) in schools. PCE opposes Bill 10 because it fundamentally and profoundly disrespects the right of parents to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children, imposing GSAs on every school in Alberta, including Catholic, public, charter, private and independent schools.
Every parent wants Alberta’s schools to provide a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment. A law requiring this is redundant and unnecessary, but otherwise not harmful. When it comes to the best way(s) to achieve a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment in schools, there are as many different opinions as there are parents. All of these opinions should be considered and respected. None of them should be imposed on every school in Alberta as the only way…
In a free society that respects parental rights, and in the context of legislation governing education, PCE believes that no one should have the right to impose their views about sexuality (or any other topic) on others by way of mandating a certain gender ideology on everyone. We believe that authentic diversity, maximum choice for parents, and the health, protection and well-being of our children are undermined by Bill 10 and the Guidelines.
Personally, I fail to see any reasonable connection between advocating for all parents to have “maximum choice” and the “right of parents to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children” with claims of being “anti-trans”.
Do not trans students need support of their families too? Do not trans students benefit when parents are given the freedom to exercise the “right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children”?
Wouldn’t any parent agree that mandating a specific ideology onto every K-12 student in Alberta, with a complete disregard for a family’s values and cultural sensitivities, is an over-reach of government authority into the sphere of the family?
Ms Jansen now owes all of us a public explanation for her conclusions. She should also be cautious of who she relies on as her sources of information.
Interestingly, at the end of the day, Ms Jansen and I both reach the same conclusion: fear, misinformation and intolerance have no place in my Alberta either.
It is the reason I started this blog and my motivation to advocate so publicly about this issue.
Albertans deserve to know what their elected officials are saying about them. As the adage says “Knowledge is power” – and it is only when we are fully informed that we can make the best decisions for ourselves, our families and the future of our province, especially when it comes to decisions of who to support in positions of public office and the best candidates for potential leadership roles.
Politicians like Ms. Jansen need to remember that (thankfully) Twitter is not representative of most of Alberta. And that popularity contests on Twitter will not necessarily get politicians re-elected. Listening to Albertans, hearing their voices and addressing their concerns would certainly help.
Or at least it should – if we as Albertans take seriously our responsibility in a democracy to make our concerns known and hold those in public office accountable for their public remarks.
I’ve been listening to thousands of Albertans across the province and there is an uprising of voters in this province who are frustrated with lack of representation and beginning to mobilize and activate. As evidenced by the overwhelming support for our rallies on Saturday, increasing numbers of people are becoming aware of the concerns represented by our rallies. And these Albertans will not stop spreading awareness about these issues until their concerns are addressed.
MLA Ric McIver received a groundswell of support for his recent advocacy supporting parental choice in education.
By contrast, Ms. Jansen has just opened a chasm between herself and a huge, politically activated group of concerned Albertans that she has labeled instead of listened to.
I would strongly encourage every one of those 4000+ people who attended the rallies in person, as well as the tens of thousands of concerned Albertans from across the province who were unable to attend in person, to send Ms Jansen a message, loud and clear.
Since she is not a fan of misinformation I am certain she would welcome Albertans respectfully setting the record straight. Her phone number is 403 297 7104 and email is firstname.lastname@example.org (cc: Interim PC Leader Ric McIver at email@example.com). Feel free to even just send her the link to this article as representative of your concerns with her claims.
Furthermore, with all due respect, I invite Ms. Jansen to provide further explanation to her claims and conclusions regarding her tweets of Saturday’s rallies. Upon receipt of her explanation I would be happy to publicly share it with the tens of thousands of families who supported the rallies across the province, through posting it on my blog and passing it along to Donna Trimble, the Executive Director or Parents for Choice in Education.
One last piece of advice to elected officials across the province: if you want to garner support of voters, give up trying to appeal to the Twitter-sphere.
Instead, start listening to the concerns of the thousands of Albertans showing up on your doorstep and begin addressing their concerns.