Calgary

Small-town Alberta councillor says she won't resign after assault

Claresholm Coun. Donna Courage says she's changed her mind about resigning, following what she said was a politically motivated break-in and assault over the weekend.

'I just can't leave,' Donna Courage says following what she describes as a politically-motivated attack

Claresholm Coun. Donna Courage said these photos of her injuries were taken on Sunday. (Submitted)

A small town Alberta councillor said she's changed her mind about resigning, following what she said was a politically motivated break-in and assault on the weekend. 

Claresholm Coun. Donna Courage said she was assaulted at around 9:15 p.m. on Saturday.

"They just broke into my front door, pushed me against the wall, held my neck and said 'keep quiet and leave town,'" she said. 

The attack, which happened in about 20 seconds, left her "stunned and unprepared," she said.

Courage was elected to council last October. She previously served as president of the Claresholm & District Chamber of Commerce.

Outsider on council decisions

She said she's often the outsider in council decisions, regularly being outvoted six to one. 

"I've always been told go along to get along, but I'm not that type. You have to vote your conscience, you can't go along just because everyone else is doing it," she said.

The councillor has been the focus of criticism on social media after posting her support for a local citizens' group, the Claresholm Citizens Coalition, that she said she has no direct involvement with.

"It's not my coalition. Coalition[s], which are cropping up all over Alberta, all over Canada, are citizens that want to see good things happen to their town. They want to see government responsible," she said.

Courage campaigned on a platform of fiscal responsibility, something the citizens coalition has also pushed for.

Claresholm Coun. Donna Courage says she won't resign after she was allegedly assaulted in her own home on Saturday. (Reid Southwick/CBC)

She initially planned to step down after the alleged assault, but now said she's going to stay strong.

"I just can't leave, I've had people call me and say, 'stay strong, stay straight, we need people like you in our public voice and in our public speaking,'" she said. 

Claresholm Mayor Doug MacPherson said in a release that the local RCMP detachment is investigating the incident.

"Council is elected to bring divergent views to the council table for discussion, and every member of council should feel free to voice their opinions without fear of repercussions," he said.

"Council would like to ask the citizens of the Town of Claresholm to band together to support the community as a whole and work together to move the community into a successful future that we all know Claresholm deserves."

Macpherson told CBC News that he and other attendees at a town hall on Wednesday were waiting for what the RCMP will find out.

"I can't believe it happened in Claresholm. It's a small town. We have a very low crime rate. This was shocking," he said. 

Premier condemns attack

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley posted Wednesday on Facebook condemning the attack.

"No woman should have to worry about her safety at home or at work. Our thoughts are with Donna Courage," the premier wrote.

"Albertans will not be intimidated. The ability for all people, elected or unelected, to speak out and speak up is fundamental to our democratic society."

Claresholm is about 125 kilometres south of Calgary.

With files from Elizabeth Snaddon, Reid Southwick

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