Since Alberta’s provincial election on May 5, Calgary-Bow MLA-elect Deborah Drever has been the target of much criticism over some photos posted on Facebook from before she was a candidate. Working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology at Mount Royal University, it is unlikely Ms. Drever, 26, believed she would actually be elected as the NDP candidate in the long-time PC Party-held constituency.
While many conservatives on social media, many of them anonymous, have aimed their frustration with the NDP’s historic win at Ms. Drever, it is important for level-headed Albertans to keep these photos in perspective. In the context of the recent election and the government that was just tossed out of office, Calgary Herald columnist Don Braid might have said it best in one tweet last week:
In general, I prefer a Facebook slip or two to a court case involving domestic blowups and PC candidate who solicited prostitutes. #abvote
— Don Braid (@DonBraid) May 7, 2015
In the years ahead, it will be hard to expect Canadians younger than 35 not to have had any sort of embarrassing photo posted on social media. It is just what happens when you are in high school or university: sometimes you do dumb things and they end up on the internet.
For the incoming generation of young politicians, “do you have any embarrassing photos on Facebook?” could be the new “have you ever smoked marijuana?” that the senior generations will ask. The future candidates will try to deny it, but they will all know that somewhere, on someones Facebook page, Instagram account or iPhone, there are embarrassing photos from that halloween kegger or university pub crawl that could one day become public.
It does not mean we are an irresponsible generation, it is the burden we bear for living in such a technologically connected society.
Had mobile phones and social networks been around in 1980, I am sure there would be many embarrassing photos of young Brian Jean, Jim Prentice, Ric McIver, Rachel Notley and Stephen Harper floating around for all the internet to see. But due to the limitations of film photography in the 1970s and 1980s, these photos are not easily accessible through a Google Image search.
But that does not mean some photos have not made it online. Would anyone argue that Peter Mackay is unfit to be Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada because he was photographed guzzling from a beer bong when he was 20-years old?
Ms. Drever probably should have removed these photos before she ran as an election candidate, a conclusion she would have made soon after the photos were discovered and the personal attacks on her began. It was a hard lesson to learn but an important one for the group of energetic young NDP MLAs to be aware of. Conservatives still bitter from their first electoral defeat in 44 years will be searching for any opportunity to undermine the new government’s credibility.
Now as the elected MLA for Calgary-Bow, Ms. Drever has an opportunity to disappoint her critics and prove to her constituents, including the 5,680 who voted for her, that she will work hard and be a responsible and fair voice for in the Legislative Assembly.
As for the rest of us, we should stop getting excited about politicians with embarrassing Facebook photos, because I can guarantee that it will be lot more common in the years to come.