Calgary-Bow member of the legislature Deborah Drever will rejoin the Alberta NDP caucus, the party confirmed today, following a 232-day exile for controversial social media posts that surfaced shortly after the provincial election last May.
Government house leader Brian Mason made the announcement alongside Drever, 27, whose online history came embarrassingly to light when numerous posts, some of them years old, were widely circulated following her surprise election.
"Had social media existed when I was in high school, I probably wouldn't be standing here now," said Mason, a 62-year-old political veteran who served as Alberta NDP leader from 2004 to 2014.
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Drever said she was happy to receive a call from Premier Rachel Notley on Thursday, inviting her back into the government fold.
"I ran as a New Democrat, I was elected in Calgary-Bow as a New Democrat, and I am pleased to be rejoining the NDP caucus today," she told reporters Friday afternoon.
Since being booted from caucus, Drever had been sitting as an Independent in the legislature.
During that time, she sponsored a private member's bill that would make it easier for domestic violence victims to flee abuse.
The bill received unanimous support in December.
Drever hasn't shied away from social media since the controversy, maintaining an active Facebook page, something she said she plans to continue.
A small group of protesters gathered outside the press conference and repeated the call from many of the NDP's critics that Drever should resign.
One protester, Trevor Marr, says what Drever did was "inappropriate" and, "They should've found somebody else new."— @dempsterCBC
Mason stood by the decision to welcome Drever back, saying Premier Rachel Notley was satisfied that the rookie member had earned her return through the work she has done in her constituency and in the legislature over the past eight months.
"We're certainly pleased that she has worked so hard on the criteria that I outlined for her when she was asked to leave caucus," Notley said, speaking to reporters in Winnipeg, where she was meeting Friday with Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger.
Among the embarrassing items that led to Drever's initial expulsion was an Instagram image of former premier Jim Prentice and interim PC leader Ric McIver with a caption that read "gay boyz" and a five-year-old album cover for a local band in which it appears Drever is about to be sexually assaulted.
She told CBC News this week she had asked the band to do a reshoot of the album cover, because she was initially told it would appear she was being saved from an assault, but the band kept it as it was.
"The reason I wanted to run for office is because I am a huge advocate for women's issues, fighting for social justice, and I really just wanted to bring that forth being an MLA for Calgary-Bow," she said.