EDMONTON — Incoming Alberta premier Rachel Notley has suspended a rookie member of her caucus over a controversial photo.
Notley says in a release that Deborah Drever will sit as an Independent after the new NDP government is sworn in on Sunday.
A photo of Tory Premier Jim Prentice and one of his cabinet ministers, Ric McIver, was circulating Friday on Twitter. It features doodled speech bubbles that appear to suggest the two men are gay. A comment from the account “drevfever” says: “Gay boyz.”
It’s unclear when the Instagram image was posted, but the doodles appear to have been added to a photo that appeared with an article published during the Tory leadership race last year.
NDP spokeswoman Cheryl Oates said the party had no idea the photo was out there until Friday. She said it was on a closed Instagram account.
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“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.
Notley said she may review Drever’s status in caucus within a year.
“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,” Notley said in the release. “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.
“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.”
Several controversial photos with Drever, 26, have surfaced since she won the Calgary Bow seat in the May 5 election. The pictures have sparked petitions demanding that she quit or be removed.
One shows her pretending to be assaulted with a bottle for a garage band cover photo. Another one on Facebook is of Drever at age 19 and in dark glasses as she hams it up beside a marijuana T-shirt. Still another shows a disembodied hand, not Drever’s, giving the middle finger to the Canadian flag.
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Drever told The Canadian Press on Thursday that the garage band photo taken three years ago was an inexplicable error of youth, but one she was determined to turn the page on.
Earlier this week, Notley said she had spoken to Drever, had accepted her apology and told her to come up with a plan to educate people about violence against women.