Can we not go a week without someone threatening to harm the Premier?

“I’ve been beating this drum for 10,11 years. I will continue to beat it, I promise. But it’s against the law to beat Rachel Notley…” – Wildrose leader Brian Jean

Speaking at a town hall forum in Fort McMurray, Fort McMurray-Conklin MLA and Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean made this ill-advised comment about Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.

It appears as though Mr. Jean was trying to be funny while playing to a hometown crowd, which is no excuse for this kind of unacceptable comment. Jokes about assaulting women, even if they are off the cuff, are not funny. He did immediately apologize, twice, and quickly sent an apology directly to Premier Notley, but it is difficult to see how he can walk back this comment.

This wasn’t a joke made by an anonymous internet troll or a roughneck after a few beers at the local bar, this comment comes from the leader of the Official Opposition who presumably wants to be the next Premier of Alberta.

Mr. Jean’s recent comment is also embarrassing because of his previous call to Wildrose supporters to stop making online threats about assassinating Ms. Notley. “These kinds of comments cross all bounds of respect and decency and have absolutely no place in our political discourse,” Mr. Jean said in a note on his Facebook page in December 2015.

Women politicians in Alberta have been the target of constant online threats and harassment, which has unfortunately become almost normalized in our current political environment. Given recent threats levelled at Ms. Notley and women cabinet ministers, Mr. Jean’s comment is a mind boggling political fumble.


The drum Mr. Jean claims to have been beating for the past 10 or 11 years is related to the level of seniors care available in Fort McMurray, an issue which has a long history of causing political controversy in that community and in the provincial capital.

Back in July 2009, Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA and former cabinet minister Guy Boutilier was ejected from from the Progressive Conservative caucus for publicly criticizing the government for not funding a new facility. Mr. Boutilier publicly accused Health Minister Ron Liepert of “talking gibberish” and then criticized Premier Ed Stelmach for not wanting a cabinet minister “who graduated from Harvard with Barack Obama.” (he later admitted that he never met Obama while at Harvard).

He later joined the Wildrose Alliance in 2010 along with two other PC MLAs who had crossed the floor earlier that year. He was defeated by Tory Mike Allen in the 2012 election.

At last night’s meeting, Mr. Jean is reported to have praised Ms. Notley for moving a planned long-term care facility from Parsons Creek to the downtown Willow Square site.

5 thoughts on “Can we not go a week without someone threatening to harm the Premier?

  1. Val Jobson

    The full quote is even worse

    “Responding to a newspaper columnist’s suggestion that he was a closed
    (sic) seat-belt abuser, the premier said “I maybe whack my kids, beat my wife, but I’ve never abused a seat belt in my life.”

    http://www.ammsa.com/publications/windspeaker/women-focus-racism

    So someone’s question brought up the term “abuse” & he tried to make a joke of it.

    I thnk it was reported the the legislature members laughed at this.

    Reply
  2. Bob

    Really, people? It WAS a stupid, unfunny, hurtful remark. It WAS thirty years ago. And he’s dead. Maybe you should focus on the here and now and things you can change (like the attitudes of men who are alive), rather than those you can’t?

    Reply
    1. Sam Gunsch

      Criticizing Jean’s or Getty’s comments that are attempts at humor about domestic or implied political violence is about denouncing their *political* comments. It’s not a *personal* critique of them as to whether they’re decent people, or who they are in their private lives.

      Aren’t political leaders supposed to *lead* with their commentary on moral/public/political issues? And when they attempt leaven their politics with humor to make their views more appealing, we’re supposed to ignore these bungled attempts? This would be the he’s ‘just joking’ plus ‘he’s bad at it’ defense, so don’t be so serious, jee whiz…can’t you take a joke?

      I’d argue that it’s exactly the political price which should have been raised much higher for joking about/making light of domestic violence and/or violent metaphorical language for political purposes. More political leaders might thus have had the gumption to have spoken up sooner and have done more about it by now.

      Which is exactly the benefit of using history for political critique…knowing what’s said today will attach to political records/resumes, is IMO, useful leverage for changing the attitudes of men who are alive today.

      Otherwise I think politics slides into a free-pass, white-wash zone and it’s hagiographies all the way down.

      So I hope your aren’t seriously suggesting being dead is a political rule that makes critique off limits of core content of on-the-record comments on political issues that elected leaders voluntarily choose to joke about?

      Next you’ll be telling us that stuff like Ralph Klein’s ‘normal Albertan’s’ comment is another bit of conservative leader history that can’t be brought up.

      Reply

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