PHOTOS: Surrounded and supported by NDP House Leader Brian Mason, Calgary-Varsity MLA Stephanie McLean and Finance Minister Joe Ceci, Calgary-Bow MLA Deborah Drever addresses the media in Calgary yesterday after being welcomed back into the Government Caucus (CBC photo). Below: Former PC premier Jim Prentice and current interim PC Leader Ric McIver.
Alberta’s political right paused yesterday in its perpetual blubbering about the evils of political correctness to boo-hoo about Calgary Bow MLA Deborah Drever being allowed to rejoin to the NDP caucus after she was kicked out last May for politically incorrect social media posts.
Last week the Wildrose Opposition was vociferously demanding that Ms. Drever be readmitted to the NDP, seeing as she’d been elected as a New Democrat on May 5 anyway and, as an Independent MLA, she tended to vote with the government, as you might expect from a person with the same general views.
Yesterday, once they’d got what they’d demanded, a group of Wildrose supporters immediately organized a sorry little protest in Calgary to complain that Ms. Drever’s infamous posts were “inappropriate” and the government “should’ve found somebody else new.”
Oh well. There’s no satisfying some people. Wildrose is gonna do what Wildrose is gonna do. And what they were gonna do no matter what was continue to complain about Ms. Drever, who after a rough start in 2015 has been doing a creditable job as an MLA.
Ms. Drever, 27, has arguably earned the right to return to the NDP caucus through hard work and genuine remorse for the tasteless and inappropriate social media posts she made before contemplating running for office last year.
Ms. Drever was elected on May 5 as a New Democrat MLA but was expelled from the government caucus 17 days later after the posts she published as a Mount Royal University student came to light. Premier Rachel Notley said at the time she would review Ms. Drever’s status within the year, and now she has.
As noted in a previous post, Ms. Drever was won accolades for a private member’s bill, passed unanimously by the Legislature in December, designed to protect victims of spousal abuse by allowing them to break residential leases without financial penalty, thus making it easier to escape violent domestic situations.
“She has done a remarkable job in rehabilitating her image and will soon be back formally in NDP caucus,” Mount Royal University political science Professor Duane Bratt predicted a week ago.
“Expect Ms. Drever to be invited to rejoin the NDP caucus in 2016,” said political blogger Dave Cournoyer in a post published just yesterday morning.
Given the level of political incorrectness in a couple of Ms. Drever’s posts – one Instragram photo of former Progressive Conservative premier Jim Prentice and current leader Ric McIver identified the pair as “gay boyz” – it was hardly unexpected the Opposition would make an issue of them.
But as Government House Leader Brian Mason observed yesterday, “had social media existed when I was in high school, I probably wouldn’t be standing here now.” Mr. Mason, 62, who was NDP leader from 2004 to 2014, is just a little younger than your blogger. Let’s just say he’s not the only one in that age cohort who could make such a claim.
Regardless, while exploiting the opportunity created by Ms. Drever was understandable enough, opposition politicians also showed a willingness to stoop very low in their attacks on her and the government.
A week ago, when a printer mistakenly inserted another MLA’s New Year message in a newsletter space purchased by the MLA, Wildrose and PC supporters immediately accused her of plagiarism. Both Mr. McIver and Wildrose Finance Critic Derek Fildebrandt, who now seems to act as the Opposition’s chief spokesperson, claimed the error was proof of a vast left-wing conspiracy to squeeze a few cents of additional expense money out of the Legislature and get extra questions during Question Period.
When the facts were revealed, both refused to apologize or otherwise acknowledge the egg on their faces.
I suspect the cruel and dishonest tone of the Opposition attacks on Ms. Drever helped persuade the government there was really no downside to doing the right thing immediately and inviting this young woman back to caucus.
This post also appears on Rabble.ca.