A heated battle between PC MLA Sandra Jansen and cabinet minister Shannon Phillips intensified during question period Wednesday when Jansen called for Premier Rachel Notley to drop Phillips from the women's portfolio. 

"Mr. Speaker, given that the minister has insulted her peers and denigrated her staff, it's clear that she has lost the moral authority to govern on this file," Jansen said.

"To the premier: Will you ask her to step down?"

Notley was in meetings Wednesday afternoon, so she did not attend question period. House Leader Brian Mason took the question instead and accused Jansen of feeding the conflict.

Shannon Phillips

Phillips apologized to Jansen for describing the PC record on women's issues "deplorable." (CBC)

"It seems to me that this honourable member is attempting to exploit a difficult situation," Mason told the house.

"I read the Hansard transcript of that, and this honourable member contributed as well to, I think, a sense of antagonism that shouldn't necessarily be there.

"I believe the question with respect to the premier, but I know that all of us on this side have the utmost confidence in the Minister of the Environment and Status of Women."

The battle between Jansen and Phillips started in a review of budget estimates for the Status of Women ministry Tuesday.

Jansen, associate minister for families and community safety under former premier Alison Redford, a portfolio which included women's issues, took issue with an assertion by Phillips that the PCs did nothing on the file.

Phillips described a framework for addressing sexual violence developed by the PCs as "distasteful" and called the PC record on women's issues "deplorable."

Jansen said that characterization is insulting to the civil servants who worked hard on the file. She said the very same people now report to Phillips.

Phillips apologized to Jansen via text message. But Jansen said the apology didn't really address the issue at hand.

"The minister didn't apologize for the content of her diatribe, just for the fact that it hurt my feelings, so way to go for the bronze here on the apology."