Police must deal with those who put female politicians in the crosshairs

AFL condemns violent hate speech against women in politics

Edmonton — Alberta must confront the ugly — and dangerous — rhetoric that is directed at women in politics.

At the organization’s quarterly council meeting, the Alberta Federation of Labour unanimously approved a statement calling for action on the increasingly extreme hate speech that extremists in Alberta are directing against women politicians.

“When toxic rhetoric and behavior like this becomes normalized, it allows extremists to dehumanize women who don’t agree with them on political matters, helps them justify their deranged actions,” the Federation of Labour said in an official statement. “In short, violent speech begets violent acts.”

Over the last several months, women who are provincial cabinet ministers have been targeted for online harassment, threats of violence, misogynist abuse, and even had their images used for target practice. The statement drew parallels between this escalating harassment and the similar hate speech that fueled the murder of British MP Jo Cox last week.

“Many are willing to tolerate and give cover to those who target women with threats of violence. They offer excuses, or try to define misogynistic behaviour as ‘just a joke.’”, the Federation of Labour said. “But these are not jokes, they fuel hate, and hatred often leads to violence.”

The Federation of Labour is asking the RCMP to actively pursue investigations into those who are making statements online that are threatening or imply that violent acts are justified. Additionally, the Federation of Labour is calling on political leaders to stand up to the violent fringe elements in their own parties.

“Unless leaders on the political right take this seriously, work to elevate the discourse, and to combat the extremists in their own ranks, they will be morally responsible for the actions of their supporters,” the Federation of Labour said. “The legal system must be brought to bear with its full power to prosecute those who are working to incite violence against women in politics.”

Alberta Federation of Labour Statement on Online Harassment of Female Politicians

Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.218.4351 (cell) or via e-mail [email protected].