Jason Kenney responds to harassment allegations in PC leadership race

Jason Kenney says Sandra Jansen isn't the only candidate who has experienced bullying in the race to become leader of Alberta’s PC party.

'At the same convention I had people jabbing me in the chest and shouting expletives at me'

Jason Kenney says he also experienced bullying at the PC convention in Red Deer. (CBC)

Jason Kenney says Sandra Jansen isn't the only candidate who has experienced bullying in the race to become leader of Alberta's Progressive Conservative party.

"People sometimes at political events let their emotions get the better of them and they should rise above that," said Kenney.

"That's what we try to do with our campaign, leading by example, notwithstanding endless attacks online."

Jansen recently dropped out of the race citing intimidation and harassment up to and during a party convention in Red Deer earlier this month.

"At the same convention I had people jabbing me in the chest and shouting expletives at me," Kenney said.

"I didn't see anything controversial apart from a few supporters of other candidates shouting unkind things at me, which happens in these events … I understand some of our younger supporters were shouted at by people twice their age. They were sworn at. Young teenage girls and so forth that were there to support my campaign. That's obviously unacceptable."

Kenney made the comments on Friday night to reporters while attending the Calgary Peace Symposium.

'Designed to push her out of the race'

Stephen Carter, a well-known political operative in Alberta who was a "volunteer strategist" for the Jansen campaign, said Kenney is misleading the public.

"He's trying to falsely equivocate two things that aren't the same," Carter said, describing profanity and threats written on Jansen's nomination page and intimidating behaviour at the convention.

"This was a campaign that was designed to intimidate. It was designed to push her out of the race."

Kenney told reporters that a member of Jansen's campaign threatened to hurt him, which Carter says refers to a podcast comment he made that was meant as a joke.

'Unremittingly positive' campaign, says Kenney

Only four candidates remain in the race to be the next leader of Alberta's PC party.

Donna Kennedy-Glans has also dropped out. Still running are Kenney, PC MLA Richard Starke, former PC MLA Stephen Khan and Calgary lawyer Byron Nelson.

Kenney insisted Friday that his campaign has been "unremittingly positive" about the other candidates. 

Kenney says he has not spoken to Jansen, who is the Calgary-North West MLA, but hopes she remains in public life because she has an "important voice that we need to hear from." 

"I think it's particularly bad if women in politics are treated badly because we need more women in politics and that means more civility and less incivility," he said.

With files from Dan McGarvey