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Alberta NDP cabinet minister Sandra Jansen not running again

EDMONTON — An Alberta NDP cabinet minister who left the Progressive Conservatives over what she said was personal abuse and an unacceptable shift to the right says she won’t run in the next provincial election.

Infrastructure Minister Sandra Jansen had indicated last fall that she would run again in her Calgary North West constituency, but in a statement today says she’s talked with her family and feels it’s time to move on.

She says she will work as much as possible to get Premier Rachel Notley and the NDP re−elected in the election that must be held this spring.

Also calling it quits is government whip Estefania Cortes−Vargas, who represents Strathcona−Sherwood Park.

Cortes−Vargas says she isn’t running again because she wants to pursue professional development opportunities.

Jansen, a former TV news anchor, is finishing her second term in the legislature.

She was first elected as a Progressive Conservative in the 2012 election and re−elected in 2015.

Jansen was running for the leadership of the Tories in late 2016, but dropped out and soon after quit the caucus altogether before joining Notley’s NDP. 

Jansen said at the time that she feared the party was moving too far to the right on social issues and that the verbal and online abuse she had been subjected to by leadership rival Jason Kenney’s supporters was intolerable.

Kenney went on to win the PC leadership, then merged the party with the Opposition Wildrose to form the United Conservative Party.

In 2016, Jansen gave a speech in the house on the abuse she and other women endure in public life, and cited in explicit detail the epithets she had been exposed to on social media.

For a while after she crossed the floor, she was granted a security detail because of death threats.

Jansen was appointed to the infrastructure portfolio in October 2017.

In her statement Monday, she wrote: “This is not an easy decision. But after many years in public life, it is the right decision for me and my family.

“I am very honoured to have been given the chance to serve. And I am proud of what I have been able to accomplish on behalf of my constituents, particularly over these last two years.”

There are now 10 NDP legislators who are not running again, including Speaker Bob Wanner and Transportation Minister Brian Mason.

Seven members of the United Conservatives are not returning. Progressive Conservative Richard Starke, Liberal David Swann and Independent Robyn Luff are also not seeking re−election.

By law, the election must be held in March, April or May, meaning Notley can drop the writ to start a four−week campaign as early as the beginning of February.