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Rona Ambrose says Hillary Clinton’s defeat not a rejection of women in politics

Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose answers a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, November 2, 2016.

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose says Hillary Clinton's defeat in the U.S. presidential election was not a rejection of women in politics.

Ambrose said her take on Donald Trump's victory is that the Democrats lost touch with working people — a lesson that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should heed.

"There is a message there and I don't think the message is that people don't want a woman in politics," Ambrose said Thursday.

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"I do think that it is a message for left-of-centre politicians who focus on large policies that are out of touch with regular working people. We saw that in the U.S. election. We saw that in Brexit," she said.

"It is a message to Mr. Trudeau, who is more interested in impressing bureaucrats at the United Nations with his big policies that really are hurting working people. And the more out of touch you are with regular working people ... the more you will be rejected."

Ambrose made the remarks at a news conference she called to protest the Liberal government's plan to move a federal immigration processing office and its 280 jobs to Edmonton from Vegreville, a rural town in eastern Alberta.

Her visit comes after the only two women candidates in the Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership race announced they were dropping out.

Calgary legislature member Sandra Jansen said she quit because of ongoing online harassment. She also said she was bullied at last weekend's policy convention by another candidate's volunteers over her support of women's reproductive rights.

Ambrose said being hassled is part of the job for women in politics. The answer is to keep confronting it head on and hopefully it will go away.

"Listen, politics is a tough sport," she said.

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"Any woman who is in politics will tell you that they have experienced intimidation and harassment, but ... when you are faced with that kind of situation, you have to call it out.

"That is what you do on a daily basis. You confront it. You name it. You deal with it. All of us do ... so that those people that do the harassing and the intimidation and the bullying — particularly online — are seen for what they are, and that is important."

Women from different political parties who are concerned about the harassment of Jansen were to hold a rally in Calgary on Thursday afternoon.

Nirmala Naidoo, who ran for the federal Liberals in the last election, said the bullying of women in politics cannot be tolerated.

"We need women in politics and it's hard enough to convince good women to run, she said. "The last thing we need is the bullying of brave women into dropping out of races."

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