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Rookie MLA-elect suspended from NDP caucus after social media blunder
Julia Parrish, CTV Edmonton
Published Friday, May 22, 2015 12:49PM MDT
Last Updated Friday, May 22, 2015 8:22PM MDT
After a series of social media gaffes that called the New Democrats’ vetting process into question, Premier-designate Rachel Notley announced Calgary-Bow MLA-elect Deborah Drever had been suspended from the NDP caucus.
An NDP news release stated Notley had reviewed an offensive photo posted on Instagram – a photo showing an image of Progressive Conservative leaders Ric McIver and former party leader Jim Prentice, with a homophobic remark from an account associated with Drever underneath.
As a result, Notley said Drever had been suspended from the NDP caucus and will sit as an independent.
The premier-designate released a statement in light of the development.
“I apologize to all Albertans for the homophobic statements contained in this image, which are completely contrary to the views of our party and our future government. I hope Ms. Drever will take to heart our conversation earlier this week about her responsibility to speak out clearly on issues of violence against women, and homophobia,” The statement read. “If she does so as part of her duties to her constituents, I’ll review this matter in the coming year and consider whether she has a future in our caucus.”
“This absolutely is the worst, because this crosses from poor judgement of an individual to homophobia,” Bob Murray with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy said.
Shortly after the May 5 provincial election, photos from the 26-year-old politician’s past posted on social media surfaced – one showing her at 19 in dark glasses posing beside a marijuana t-shirt, another showing a hand, that was reportedly not hers, giving the middle finger to the Canadian Flag.
Another photo, dating back three years, shows Drever appearing to be assaulted with a bottle for a garage band album cover photo.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Drever called the photo a mistake, one she regretted “as soon as the picture was taken.”
“I am very disappointed in myself that I let (people) down,” Drever said in her interview. “I really want to prove that I can do a good job.”
Murray said Notley had little choice when she suspended Drever.
“The last thing that you want plaguing you, going into your swearing-in on Sunday, are going to be questions surrounding your judgement or the judgement of your MLAs,” Murray said.
Before Drever’s suspension, Notley said she had accepted the new MLA-elect’s apology, and asked the third year sociology student to develop a plan to heighten awareness of violence against women.
With files from Bill Fortier and The Canadian Press