Notley suspends Deborah Drever from caucus after a series of social media gaffes
Published Friday, May 22, 2015 12:09PM MDT Last Updated Friday, May 22, 2015 6:29PM MDT
Premier-designate Rachel Notley has suspended the MLA-elect for Calgary-Bow, Deborah Drever, from caucus over a controversial photo.
On Friday, Notley said she reviewed an offensive photo that Drever posted to her Instagram account and then decided to supend her from caucus in light of the matter.
The NDP says the image depicted two Conservative leaders, along with a homophobic remark, which appears to have to been added by Drever.
The image has been circulating on Twitter and features a doodled speech bubble that appears to suggest the two men are gay.
"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," Premier-designate Notley said in a statement. "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."
Photos from the 26-year-old rookie politician’s past, posted on social media, surfaced shortly after the May 5 provincial election; one showed her at 19 in dark glasses posing beside a marijuana T-shirt and another showed a hand, that was reportedly not hers, giving the middle finger to the Canadian Flag.
In another photo, dating back three years, Drever appears to be assaulted with a bottle for a garage band album cover photo.
Drever called the photo a mistake, in an interview with The Canadian Press, 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.”
Cheryl Oates, NDP spokeswoman, said the party had no idea the photo was out there until Friday and that it was on a closed Instagram account.
"We became aware of it this morning when we saw it on social media," Oates said. "We had no idea about this photo."
Oates said the party confirmed with Drever that she posted the photo and made the comment.
Interim PC Party Leader Ric McIver spoke to CTV News and says it is up to the NDP to manage the controversy.
“This is an issue that the NDP Premier and the NDP party need to manage and for today, I’m content to let them manage it,” said McIver. “It is what it is.”
McIver would not say whether he was offended by the post but did say the public will decide if issues like this are symptomatic of inexperienced people running for office.
“The public will judge this on its own merits and they probably don’t need my assistance on that,” he said. “I think the actions speak for themselves and I’m hopeful and maybe even a little optimistic that the NDP will deal with this in a responsible way.”
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.
Drever will now sit in the legislature as an independent.
(With files from edmonton.ctvnews.ca and The Canadian Press)