WARNING: This story contains graphic content. Discretion is advised.
CALGARY – One week after Facebook photos of newly-elected NDP MLA Deborah Drever spurred three online petitions calling for her resignation, the young woman is apologizing for appearing in what she called an “offensive” album cover.
The 26-year-old appeared in a photo on an album cover for Calgary metal band Gatekrashor, in which she is shown lying on the ground, legs apart, as a man bends over her. He appears to be ready to assault her with a bottle as she lays sprawled against a fence. That photo is now circulating on social media, a week after some of her Facebook photos involving marijuana and a middle finger in front of a Canadian flag made headlines.
“The photo I appeared in was in poor taste, and I apologize for its offensive content,” Drever said in a statement provided to the Calgary Herald by the NDP.
“It is not a photo I would appear in today.”
Multiple requests from Global News for comment from Drever and the NDP were not answered by publication time.
Mount Royal University political analyst Duane Bratt agrees with Drever’s assessment that the photo is “in bad taste,” but added that’s the whole purpose of metal bands.
Bratt suggested this is evidence the NDP didn’t properly vet its candidates, “because it did not really believe before the election that they would form a majority government.”
One fellow-NDPer came to Drever’s defence on social media:
But Bratt noted public reaction might be different if the man holding the bottle in the photo was the MLA candidate in question.
Mount Royal associate professor in policy studies Lori Williams said the album cover may be especially offensive to people given the recent high-profile stories about sexually aggressive remarks targeting female reporters.
Williams pointed out many analysts have called the recent NDP win as a step forward for women in politics.
“While some might view the image as an empowering rejection of traditional female roles, most will lament the paradox between a political victory for women and the objectification of one of the winners,” she wrote in an email to Global News.
Williams said finding candidates without such social media baggage will become increasingly difficult in this age, and “parties and candidates will have to find creative ways of responding to such challenges.”
“Ms. Drever’s decision not to do interviews is prudent. She is young and inexperienced – completely unprepared for ordinary media scrutiny much less the crush of reporters seeking a response to a controversy.”
Williams suggested it’s a matter for the party leadership, who will likely try to turn the focus from her past to the future of the government and the party.
“Candidates that initially appear unprepared or inappropriate sometimes become effective and respected politicians.”
Two of the three online petitions launched to call for Drever’s resignation have since closed. A message on one says the petition gained over 900 signatures in 24 hours and that it would be sent to the NDP party to “voice the issue.”
“Please note, this is not meant to be a personal attack, simply a petition for the best use of tax payer dollars,” it says.
Wililams said despite the petition, it’s worth remembering other controversial politicians have survived worse.
“Mike Allen broke the law by soliciting prostitutes – a moral and legal scandal – and yet retained the support of his constituents for a time,” she said.