Politicians with embarrassing Facebook photos? Get used to it.

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 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 McIverRachel 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.

16 thoughts on “Politicians with embarrassing Facebook photos? Get used to it.

  1. FCS

    Oh please, embarrassing photos are not what riled some / many of these people (nice to see that they are all labeled as ‘bitter Conservatives’). I for one could not care less about the rock music cover, beer can head, and the marijuana T-shirt photos. It’s the flipping of the Canadian flag and her hypocritical derisions of low-paid, low-educated service workers that is the more questionable indication of her characters.

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  2. FCS

    And the fact that the NDP didn’t vet her her basic profile properly (or at least asked her to change her Facebook settings) doesn’t bother you? Of course it’s not the biggest error in the world but it’s still a gaffing mistake.

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  3. Jerrymacgp

    I saw that album cover. As a long-time metal fan, let me tell you that edgy and challenging album art has long been an integral part of metal culture; just have a look at some of Iron Maiden’s albums if you want some high-profile examples.

    If we wanted boring, white-bread old fogeys to represent us, we would have voted the PCs in once again. (Some would accuse me of being an “old fogey” at 56, but I at least try not to be boring, and I like my bread whole wheat).

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  4. John

    Great article. People lament that youth are not involved in the political process. This election shows they certainly are engaged , involved and will vote.

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  5. eric

    Get over yourselves we live in an Internet world and we have all done silly or stupid stuck none of us is perfect just glad to see young blood in there representing the younger generation

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  6. canadianveggie

    I can’t believe this shit comes up every election, with young people targeted just because they grew up in the age of the Internet. Aren’t we passed this now? I’m glad Ms. Drever was elected, and not forced to resign as a candidate before election day (which too often happens). If you’re under the age of 35, there are probably embarrassing photos of you online. That shouldn’t automatically disqualify you from running for public office. I disagree with Dave that candidates should hide embarrassing photos before they run. First, it’s nearly impossible to remove anything from the Internet. Second, I’d rather have that information out in open for voters to see.

    In 2009, Ray Lam, a young BC NDP candidate, was forced to resign over sexually provocative photos on his private Facebook. Premier Gordon Campell, whose career survived a drunk-driving conviction, had the gall to go to the media and claim Mr. Lam was unfit for public office, and the NDP not wanting the distraction turfed him.

    Every election, there at least one or two candidates (often young people, but not always) who resign before voters have had their say, because of damaging online content. Just go a google search for “candidate resigns Facebook post” and you can read about hundreds of them. It’s ridiculous.

    Hopefully with time, voters will become savvy enough to realize that having an embarrassing photo or making a bad joke isn’t half the crime that drunk driving or domestic abuse is.

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  7. Ken Chapman

    We are into a generational change of political leadership. It comes with new ways of expression. As a front-end Baby Boomer & a product of the 60s I find it ironic that the “system challenging” Facebook content of young and elected Albertans is getting such sanctimonious attention from some sources.

    I see it through a lens of nostalgia. Proud to be a product of the 60s when I learned to be a citizen.

    Get on with bringing accountable open transparent government back to Alberta

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  8. Allen Gould

    Personally, I’m reaching the point where if you can’t find an embarrassing photo of a candidate, I become suspicious of what they’re hiding.

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  9. Ahria

    Many candidates in the provincial election got in with ease. Many about to run in the federal election are likely thinking it will be the same, an easy way to a wage and pension; for some politics unknown to them and almost an afterthought. Please question those running federally to determine what many really believe (eg. quality for all, really, or just covering up true thoughts). Is there any awareness of what the job entails – after all, it is a country we’re running. Are candidates aware of what other parties are stating, or just repeating canned party lines without thought. Question, think, vote for someone aware enough to contribute – then vote.

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  10. conrad

    I could care less about someone’s marriage. But it’s very relevant to their character what they post online…

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  11. Rural gal

    At her age, she must have thought it cool to be in a “rape scene”- really?
    Women have been fighting stereotypes of “rape is ok cause of what we were, where we go, etc”. Here is a person thinking it is cool to be photographed in this position?
    NOtley has long stood for the equality of women, and has spoken eloquently for the promotion of women in the work force. She is now faced with a person in her elected MLA,s who has no self respect much less respect for women! NOtley has a defining moment here!
    So proud she is not my daughter, who yes has done some foolish things, but not this!

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  12. BlahBlahBlah

    An online posting by an obscure candidate arguably cost the Wildrose the last election because it was discovered and widely scrutinized before the election. Afterwards, the consensus view seemed to be what transpired was justified, because it allowed voters an opportunity to reflect on the character and beliefs of the candidate before voting for him.

    That didn’t happen this time around, which may simply be because no one took NDP write in candidates seriously. Alternatively, it may be because of a cultural double standard, wherein online stupidity is viewed differently, depending on the age and political leanings of the person posting. I’m sure Ms. Drever has “grown” over the last 12 months (3 months) and understands her time of youthful indiscretion must now end. Call me crazy, but my preference is to be governed by someone for whom this happened before aspiring to public office, rather than upon achieving it.

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  13. David Foster

    I don’t have an issue with Ms Drever’s private Facebook photos, but the album cover was public and commercial. It does concern me that she thought a depiction of sexual violence was the appropriate way to promote her band and sell records.

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  14. Phil Harmonic

    Does anyone know where these are coming from? Did someone grab a cache of Drevers’ social media postings and is now leaking them slowly out to the media?

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  15. terry

    Ya, well if it had been a Wildrose candidate, people would have been merciless. Interesting how the NDP were treated with kid gloves. Did the media know about some of these pictures during the election? They sure jumped on the innocent “bring your wife’s pie” event.

    Reply

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