Here For You in Calgary-North West
I grew up in the north west quadrant of the city and will always feel most at home here. I’m so lucky to have my parents and siblings close by! I’m the single mom of a 16 year old so my close knit family is an enormous support as I carry out my legislative duties across Alberta.
When I’m not working or volunteering in the community, I try to find the time to paint. As a long time acrylic artist, I have donated more than 50 paintings to worthy causes in Calgary including the United Way and Calgary Health Trust.
My career in broadcasting
My career in broadcasting spanned 25 years and took me on some amazing adventures across the country. From a humble start at Grand Forks radio, to CHAT TV in Medicine Hat, and then back home to Calgary 7 Television before heading across the country to CTV Montreal, and finally CTV News Channel in Toronto, it was a wonderful experience.
I was privileged to staff the anchor desk for some of the most important stories of the time, including the Bosnian Crisis, Clinton Impeachment Scandal, September 11th and more.
I returned home in 2007, taking a spot on the anchor desk at CityTV Calgary, while I completed my Master of Arts. All of those roles fed my passion for good political stories.
I first earned a broadcasting diploma from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) and then studied French at McGill University in Montreal before starting my career in broadcasting.
In 2007, I undertook to earn a Masters Degree in professional communications from Royal Roads in Victoria, graduating in 2009.
The Political Bug
You might say I got the political bug at a very early age, and it certainly stuck with me. I bought my first party membership 31 years ago. But even before that, I felt very comfortable at our legislature.
In the spring 2012 election, I ran for office in the constituency of Calgary-North West. I ran again in 2015, and the constituents of Calgary-North West put their trust in me a second time.
My Political Passion: Safe Environments for Children and Youth
I was sworn in as Associate Minister of Family and Community Safety on August 1, 2013. With that responsibility, I tackled many tough issues including human trafficking, violence against women, and sexual exploitation. I had previously served as a member of the Standing Committee on Families and Communities, so was already familiar with the issues and was – and still am – passionate about them.
On November 13, 2013, I accepted the role of Honorary Chair of the Society for Safe and Caring Schools & Communities (known as Safe and Caring). This organization includes representation from the Alberta Teachers’ Association, the Alberta School Boards Association, the College of Alberta School Superintendents and other organizations committed to creating safe, caring, inclusive and healthy environments for children and youth by working against bullying, violence and exploitation.
[Sandra’s] energy, passion and deep commitment to addressing issues of bullying and violence and promoting a culture of respectful, healthy relationships complements our efforts to ensure every child in Alberta has the opportunity to grow up in a caring and nurturing home, an engaging and supportive school and a safe and inclusive environment. We recognize this requires the collective efforts of government, community, schools and families working together.
Dr. Marni Pearce,Executive Director, Safe and Caring
Creating safe environments for children and youth is one of my life’s passions, and has sometimes been controversial.
In a rapidly growing part of the city like Calgary-North West, we have many local issues that need intervention. One of the projects I’ve championed is a new middle school in Rocky Ridge/Royal Oak. This school had dropped from second to seventh place on the priority list of schools produced by the Calgary Board of Education in 2012, so I worked with local residents to help demonstrate the clear need. The provincial government announced on May 1, 2013 that Rocky Ridge/Royal Oak would receive a new middle school, which opened in early 2017.
I also worked hard to stop an urban drilling site proposed by Kaiser Exploration Ltd. Oil wells were planned to be drilled within 400 meters of Royal Oak. I made the point – successfully – to the Legislature that current drilling policies do not take into account high-density areas. Working with then Energy Minister, Ken Hughes, we agreed on the importance of appropriate urban drilling policies for all Albertans, taking into account air and water quality, pollution, and appropriate emergency evacuation routes.
I sponsored the urban drilling review motion, which was passed in April 2013, to determine whether adequate policy was in place regarding urban community drilling sites. I also successfully identified three possible alternative drilling locations. In October 2013, Kaiser Exploration Ltd. announced it would be moving its drilling sites 2.3 kilometers away.
My Work in Edmonton
I was Chair of the Calgary Caucus, which is the group of Calgary Government MLAs who met regularly to hear from Calgarians about issues common to the whole city, and to act together on behalf of the interests of the city’s residents.
I also served on the Standing Committees on Privileges and Elections, Public Accounts, Standing Orders and Printing, and Families and Communities.
I had the particular pleasure to serve as the co-chair of the Alberta Film Advisory Council which represents a cross-section of key film, television and digital media industry stakeholders. The council brings together key industry members to provide advice to the government on the strategic priorities for the industry and to plan and deliver the strategies and activities that support those strategic priorities. This is an important industry in our city and our province that employs many Albertans and helps to diversify our economy.
In 2013, I sponsored Bill 21, the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Amendment Act, which gives the government the ability to set the “nature and scope of an environmental monitoring program” and force “the imposition of fees on participants,” the oil sands companies. This measure was part of implementing a joint federal-provincial monitoring plan and ensures that all oil companies follow the same rules with respect to environmental monitoring.
Change of Direction
In November 2016, I changed my political affiliation and joined the Government Caucus. I did this after great consideration and consultation, and after having experienced some very disturbing bullying behaviour, both online and in person. I no longer felt comfortable where I was.
I received a great deal of criticism for my decision – some of it unprintable – as well as a lot of support for having drawn attention to bullying in general, and bullying of women politicians in particular. Some of the response is linked on this page, and I am very appreciative of those who understand why I needed to do what I did.
If I have helped to draw attention to violence against women, to the criticism uniquely aimed at women in public life, and to bullying in general, I am pleased that my experience had that positive impact on others.
In my new home, I have had the opportunity to focus on several issues important to me. In particular, I was pleased to be the co-sponsor of a bill to give victims of sexual assault and domestic violence longer to decide whether to pursue a civil claim. This would recognize that, for a variety of reasons, it can take survivors some time to come to terms with their next course of action.
I have also sponsored Private Members Bill 205 which would create an Advocate for persons with disabilities.
Minister of Infrastructure
On October 17, 2017 I was honoured to be named to the provincial Cabinet, in the role of Minister of Infrastructure. The Premier asked me to particularly pay attention to Calgary’s economic challenges and the way that job-creating infrastructure projects could help Calgary emerge from the very difficult 2015-2017 recession.
In my community, I have been a spokesperson and a volunteer for the United Way, Calgary Health Trust, and Ronald McDonald House and a board member at the Calgary Girls’ School.
I am currently a member of the Calgary Council on Homelessness, which champions the 10 year plan to end homelessness in Calgary. There are 3,500 Calgarians who still need a roof over their heads. I’m doing my part to advance this important goal.
I am deeply grateful to the residents of Calgary-North West for giving me this opportunity to serve you, our city, and our province. I pledge to work hard for you and for all Albertans.