Here is part of what I wrote following the Alberta NDP’s election victory on Tuesday night:
It is my understanding that a number of university students have been elected to the provincial legislature under an NDP banner not unlike in the 2011 federal election when the NDP had a breakthrough in Quebec. But the federal NDP is the official opposition. There’s a good chance you’re going to have some 21-year olds being named cabinet ministers. I think they will be in way over their heads and, in four years time, they will be unceremoniously dumped from office.
Enter Deborah Drever. The 26-year old sociology student at Mount Royal College was elected in the once safe Tory constituency of Calgary-Bow by 263 votes.
Drever became the focus of controversy because of various pictures posted in front of her Facebook account. Some of the photos are what you might expect of a 20-something college student (i.e. posing in front of a pro-marijuana t-shirt and drinking with her friends). However, one photo features a middle finger in front of a Canadian flag.
She has since taken down her Facebook page.
For her part, Drever says the pictures on her Facebook page don’t represent who she is and that the criticism is just bullying. She also denies that the middle finger in front of the Canadian flag is hers. Maybe so, but the picture was still posted under her name. I’m sure that when she posted the picture she never thought in a million years that she would be elected as an MLA. But now that she has been elected to office, her words and deeds will be subject to scrutiny. Over the past decade, 158 Canadians gave their lives for that flag in Afghanistan. Politicians can certainly be unsavory, but I think most people expect their politicians not to give their flag the finger. It’s the kind of thing that doesn’t sit well with people.
Now it’s entirely possible that Drever is a quick study and will become an excellent MLA. But in order for that happen she will need to exercise good judgment. None of us are perfect of course. But to dismiss the criticism as bullying leads me to believe that she probably won’t learn from this experience. In which case, the people of Alberta are going to have a long four years with Rachel Notley and the NDP.
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