'Proud to stand with my colleagues': Ejected Alta. MLA rejoins NDP
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, January 8, 2016 1:08PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, January 9, 2016 12:16AM EST
CALGARY -- A first-time member of the Alberta legislature who was suspended from the government's caucus over embarrassing gaffes that resurfaced on social media is being allowed to return to the fold.
Deborah Drever, 27, has been sitting as an Independent since shortly after the NDP won the provincial election last May.
House leader Brian Mason said Friday that Drever has done everything asked of her in the last seven-plus months.
"I am pleased to be rejoining the NDP caucus today," Drever said at a news conference. "I'm proud to stand with my colleagues who are working together to make Alberta a better place."
Drever was a third-year sociology student when she won a seat in Calgary Bow on May 5. Shortly after, images and quotes, including what appeared to be homophobic slurs written months earlier against the Progressive Conservatives, began appearing online.
One Facebook photo showed Drever at age 19 in dark glasses and hamming it up beside a marijuana T-shirt. Another showed a disembodied hand giving the middle finger to the Canadian flag.
An album cover photo for a garage band depicted her, at age 23, on her back, legs apart on the concrete against a chain-link fence, and restrained by one of four men while another stands over her with a bottle.
She has since worked to redeem herself and successfully shepherded through a private member's bill in December to help spouses break rental leases if they need to flee domestic violence.
"If there's any lesson to be learned it's that ... when you are getting attacked over and over again, to just stay strong and to remember why I ran to begin with ... to fight for gender equality and fighting for social justice," Drever said.
Mason, who shared the podium with Drever, said he was proud of her success and the plan was always for her to eventually rejoin the NDP caucus.
"Deborah had been asked by the premier to do a number of things to demonstrate her ability and commitment as an MLA, and that included working with various women's organizations, particularly in the area of violence against women," he said.
"Deborah has acquitted herself tremendously well in this and has built relationships with organizations throughout the province that deal with family violence."
Opposition Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said Drever's change in status wasn't exactly a surprise.
"She was clearly Independent in name only," he said.
Notley had said she would review Drever's status within a year.
"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 at a news conference in Winnipeg on Friday.
"Really, the issue is about what people do when they're in office and whether they move forward on the things that they ran on, and that is what Ms. Drever has done."
With files from Dean Bennett in Edmonton