Calgary

Deborah Drever apologizes to LGBT community, vows to gain Calgary-Bow's trust

Deborah Drever, who was suspended from the Alberta NDP caucus last week after a series of social media gaffes, is once again apologizing for her "problematic" posts but has no plans of resigning.

'I am ready to work hard to ensure my constituents are well-represented,' says Drever on Facebook

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley suspended Deborah Drever, above, after an offensive social media image posted by the rookie member of her caucus surfaced. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

Deborah Drever, who was suspended from the Alberta NDP caucus last week after a series of social media gaffes, is once again apologizing for her "problematic" posts but has no plans of resigning.

Drever's troubles started almost immediately after she won her northwest Calgary seat on May 5 when controversial photos emerged of her next to a T-shirt emblazoned with marijuana leaves and posing as a victim of a sexual assault for a heavy metal band's album cover.

The photos spurred some to call for the MLA-elect to be recalled, even though there is no such legislation in Alberta.

An NDP spokesperson says the above image came from a closed Instagram account called 'drevfever.' (Instagram)

At first Premier Rachel Notley was willing to forgive her, and move on, but then one of Drever's Instagram posts surfaced. It was a picture of former premier Jim Prentice and interim Alberta PC leader Ric McIver with a comment implying the two are gay.

Drever posted an apology on her Facebook page Tuesday.

"I am sorry that my actions were hurtful," posted the 26-year-old political rookie.

"My flippant attempt at humour backfired and I sincerely apologize to my constituents and to all Albertans for that. I am also sorry that I was the source of significant distraction from what should have been a time of celebration for Premier [Rachel] Notley and the NDP caucus."

Instagram photo posted last year

Drever says the image, which had the caption "gay boyz," was a screen capture of her Instagram account from over a year ago.

Dr. Kristopher Wells is a MacEwan University associate professor and Canada Research Chair for the Public Understanding of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth (CBC)

"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," said Notley in a statement last week. 

Kris Wells, who works with the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services, says Drever's post speaks to a larger issue among today's youth.

"To me, that exemplifies the power of casual homophobia, which we see happen among a lot of young people, where you're using derogatory language without really thinking about its consequences," he says. 

"Words do have consequences. For young people — think before you speak, think before you tweet, think before you put things on social media."

Wells encourages Drever to get involved and talk to other young people about her mistakes. He has invited Drever to Camp fYrefly, which is a national leadership retreat for sexual and gender minority youth that he helped to create.

'Never intended to convey an insult'

Drever wanted to "stress in the strongest possible terms" that her comment was "never intended to convey an insult" to the LGBT community.

"I also want to make it perfectly clear that I know now that my intent doesn't matter. When it comes to discriminatory language or actions, intent is irrelevant when it causes harm to another person or persons."

Deborah Drever appears on the album cover of the metal band Gatekrashor. (Gatekrashor/Facebook)

Drever says she is a strong supporter of equal rights for all Albertans, and understands the need for gay-straight alliances in all schools around the province.

She says she is dedicated to the job and plans to win the trust of her constituents in Calgary-Bow.

"I intend to serve as the MLA for Calgary-Bow, as I was elected to do, and I will sit as an Independent MLA. I am ready to work hard to ensure my constituents are well-represented and I will continue to promote the core NDP values of inclusion and fairness upon which I ran."

Members of the legislative assembly will be sworn in at a ceremony in Edmonton on June 1.

Notley says she will review whether Drever has a future in the NDP caucus next year. In the meantime, she has asked the young politician to speak out clearly on issues of violence against women and homophobia.

"I appreciate the premier's past advice and will live up to the expectations she has set out for me over the coming months," says Drever in her statement.

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