Wildrose Finance Critic Derek Fildebrandt suspended from caucus by Leader Brian Jean over social media message

Posted on May 28, 2016, 2:07 am
5 mins

PHOTO: Wildrose Finance Citic Derek Fildebrandt was suspended by the party caucus last night by Leader Brian Jean. Below: Mr. Jean, Twitterer Dave Beninger and NDP MLA Deb Drever (CBC photo).

Wildrose Party Finance Critic Derek Fildebrandt was suspended from the Opposition party’s Legislative caucus just before midnight last night by party Leader Brian Jean.

brian-jean-leaderFort McMurray Today journalist Vincent McDermott first reported the suspension around 11:30 p.m. yesterday in a Tweet. The Wildrose Party has confirmed the decision by Mr. Jean.

Mr. Fildebrandt, the MLA for the Strathmore-Brooks riding east of Calgary, was suspended from the caucus effective immediately for making “an unacceptable comment on social media that does not represent the values of the Wildrose caucus,” Mr. Jean’s statement said. The statement read in full:

“JEAN STATEMENT ON THE SUSPENSION OF MLA FILDEBRANDT FROM THE WILDROSE CAUCUS

“EDMONTON, AB (May 27, 2016): Tonight, Wildrose Leader Brian Jean announced the suspension of MLA Derek Fildebrandt from the Wildrose Caucus.

“‘This evening, Mr. Fildebrandt made an unacceptable comment on social media that does not represent the values of the Wildrose Caucus.’

“‘He has been suspended from our Caucus effective immediately.’”

A screen shot of a Facebook message posted earlier Friday evening by Mr. Fildebrandt and shows the message referred to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne as “Mr. Wynne or whatever the hell she identifies as” – an apparent reference to the fact Ms. Wynne is openly gay. The author of the comment adds to Mr. Fildebrandt, “proud to have you as my MLA,” and Mr. Fildebrandt initially responded, “Proud to have constituents like you!”

BeningerMr. Fildebrandt backed away from the statement and his response in subsequent Facebook messages and Tweets, saying to one person “I didn’t fully read the comment. Totally inappropriate.”

To well-known Twitter commentator Dave Beninger, he said: “I just fully read that comment, just browsed it the first time (pratfalls of managing ones own page). I agree totally inappropriate.”

Mr. Beninger later Tweeted: “I don’t believe @DerekFildebrabdt is homophobic or transphobic, some of the comments on his page are/were & I’m glad he called them out.”

To the author of the comment, Mr. Fildebrandt said he had not seen the “Mr.,” and added: “With all respect, it’s not appropriate or something that should be lightly joked about. My criticisms of Ms. Wynne are based on policy, and not anything personal. It never should be personal. If anyone though (sic) I agreed with the statement, my apologies.”

The suspension comes on the heels of Mr. Fildebrandt’s jeers and harsh criticisms of Ms. Wynne in the Alberta Legislature on Thursday, moments after the Ontario premier was welcomed to the Gallery by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. Mr. Fildebrandt’s comments were harshly criticized in media and political circles, and the Wildrose Party earlier yesterday issued a carefully worded apology that expressed regret for the timing of the comments, though not Mr. Fildebrandt’s message.

deborah-drever-1When Calgary-Bow MLA Deborah Drever, then 26, was suspended from the NDP caucus by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley on May 22, 2015, for distributing inappropriate images and making a social media comment about Progressive Conservative leaders that was interpreted as homophobic long before running for public office, Mr. Fildebrandt was quite harsh in his commentary.

Mr. Fildebrant, 30, whom the Calgary Herald noted was the youngest Wildrose MLA elected in the May 5, 2015, general election, told the paper Ms. Drever’s youth should not excuse her for posting the material. “This is a textbook example of why we should have recall legislation,” Mr. Fildebrandt said at the time, referring to a policy advocated by the Wildrose Party.

Ms. Drever sat as an Independent in the Legislature until she was readmitted to the NDP caucus on Jan. 8, 2016. During that time, she sponsored a private member’s bill designed to make it easier for victims of domestic violence to escape abuse. It was passed unanimously by all parties in the Legislature in December 2015.

An earlier version of this story, written on the fly at 1 a.m., referred to the original Facebook message as a Tweet. AlbertaPolitics.ca regrets the error … but not nearly as much as Mr. Fildebrandt regrets his, I’ll wager! This story also appears on Rabble.ca.

20 Comments to: Wildrose Finance Critic Derek Fildebrandt suspended from caucus by Leader Brian Jean over social media message

  1. TENET

    May 28th, 2016

    The WRP exists because some Albertans enable them through denial. It is the same form of denial that enables people like Trump to manifest bigotry, misogyny, racial prejudice, religious dogma, intolerance, reactionary right wing ideology.

    Suspending people like Hildebrandt from caucus is a time honoured parliamentary tradition, but those traditions mean nothing to men like Trump and Fildebrandt. They use media and social media very effectively. They are a scourge, and they are more prevalent and persistent than we care to admit. In Alberta, we do not seem to have the same resolve or impetus to deal with these men, and their venom, like we did Mr. Keegstra et al.

    They always come back, Hildebrandt will not change, we can be sure of that. Only the Supreme Court can curtail men like Keegstra and
    Fildebrandt, we just have to wait until they eventually cross the line.

    Reply
  2. Erin Hickman

    May 28th, 2016

    He should have been suspended for his wildly inappropriate comments in the leg long before “the tweet”.

    Reply
  3. Maria

    May 28th, 2016

    Ms Drever was assigned the responsibility to redeem herself during her suspension, and she did. It would be interesting to know how Mr. Jean handles this situation – will he instruct Mr. Fildebrandt to redeem himself? What will Mr. FIldebrandt do? I don’t think Mr. Fildebrandt knows what redeem means.

    Reply
  4. Mike

    May 28th, 2016

    For clarity, you should mention that Fildebrant responded to the person’s tweet with “Proud to have constituents like you!”

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      May 28th, 2016

      Very good suggestion. So amended. Thanks.

      Reply
  5. Athabascan

    May 28th, 2016

    I smell a leadership challenge in the Wildrose. Could it be the hillbillies are fracturing into warring clans – the Hatfieds and McCoys?

    I’ll get the popcorn and enjoy this feud.

    Reply
  6. AlbertaPride

    May 28th, 2016

    More Fildebluster shenanigans………which MSM failed to report:

    In addition to this clusterf*_k by Fildebluster, he also this week in the legislature called Calgary-North West MLA Sandra Jansen a “liar” and responded with “BS” to a reply by a government minister who was replying to a question. Both incidents were debated as “Points of Order” with which the ‘Rosers had to apologize on his behalf.

    And he insinuated during the debate on the “ACT TO END PREDATORY LENDING” that most of the people who used those services had ties to the underworld and organized crime and could get money, if needed, from those sources.

    Does anyone, besides me, see a pattern here?

    Reply
      • jerrymacgp

        May 29th, 2016

        I’m sorry, but I think it’s in poor taste to mock the religious observances of any group, as this video does (note the title). As an atheist, I don’t hold to any belief in a supernatural being as the creator and ruler of the universe; but as a secular humanist, I feel those of faith deserve respect and consideration, not contempt. We may not share their beliefs, but we must respect and defend their right to hold them. As Mr Trudeau said about Conservatives on election night, they are not our enemies, but our neighbours. Remember, our intrepid blogger here is a man of faith.

        Where I part company with some religious people, is when they seek to impose their views on the rest of society. But that is a political matter, not a spiritual one, and should be discussed and debated in that vein.

        Reply
        • Anon

          May 30th, 2016

          No need to apologize. But the types in the video are all too typical of the Wildrose shock troops. It is they who have mixed politics and religion and made neo-liberalism an article of faith making our country into a theocracy. They are the ones who opened that door and dragged us all through it and I have no idea how that can be undone.

          Fine words about them being our neighbours are all very well, but the decades of neo-con abuse demonstrate they are not very good neighbours.

          As to our intrepid blogger being a man of faith: so were Tommy Douglas and many other wonderful people, but post-Harper I have to wonder if they are a minority.

          Reply
    • Kate

      May 28th, 2016

      Yes, and it’s a pattern that needs to be stopped!

      Reply
  7. Filostrato

    May 28th, 2016

    Mr. Fildebrandt (or whatever he calls himself) holds views and promotes ideas that were out of date fifty years ago. My condolences to the people of the Strathmore-Brooks riding for having him as their representative. Shame to see that someone so young whose ideas have already solidified like concrete. Nowhere to go from there but down.

    I’d almost forgotten that he used to be the Alberta head of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, those purveyors of dubious “studies” and lovers of ridiculous media ploys. Good times…

    Reply
  8. Albertan

    May 28th, 2016

    Apparently, the Wildrose acts this boorish way toward the NDP in the Legislature all of the time, and the AB press ?thinks nothing of it, or something, perhaps many forces at play here with not accepting an NDP govenment. But now, because Premier Wynne was there and was treated the same way by the Wildrose, the Ontario press gallery was there and they got a hold of it! Maybe the Ontario press gallery, and others, should be there more often to report the Wildrose Party’s behavior, which appears to have been regarded as, ‘normal,’ by many Albertans. The articles re: the Wildrose and their leader, Jean, in The Globe and Mail are long overdue, stinging and well deserved, finally. Perhaps now, the Wildrose Party, who has attracted this attention with their bad behavior, will have provided fodder for other journalists across the country…..and about time.

    Reply
  9. ronmac

    May 28th, 2016

    When it comes to this business of sexual preference and gender identity I am reminded of the time when Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, made his BIG ANNOUCEMENT that he was gay.

    As somebody pointed out, at this point people would be more shocked if he came out as a Windows user.

    By now I suspect most people are more concerned about the political preferences of the politicians they elect. If I vote for this NDP candidate am I going to find out six months from now he or she is really a Liberal? Or a Tory? Or if I vote for this guy, thinking I’m helping to get rid of Stephen Harper and feeling good about myself, only to find out he’s really a corporate elitist passing laws that hands over a chunk of our soverignity to the EU, well I’m going to be one disappointed cowboy

    Reply
    • Tom in Ontario

      May 28th, 2016

      Excellent commentary, Ronmac. Unfortunately we often get what we don’t expect when we elect politicians based on party platforms and campaign promises. Your final sentence says it all.

      Stephen kept one of his promises, though. If he got a majority government, we wouldn’t recognize Canada when he left office. The about to be former member for Calgary Heritage wasn’t joking.

      Reply
  10. David

    May 28th, 2016

    Mr. Fildebrandt seems to be quite consistent in his boorish behavior. I suppose it has finally caught up to him and he has become too much of an embarrassment even to his own party.

    There is a certain line of thought in the world (somewhat more prevalent these days among some younger people) that a person can say whatever they want and everyone else just has to “deal with it” and if others don’t like it, that is their problem regardless how mean spirited and rude the comments are. However, words like actions have consequences which is why most in public life choose their words very carefully.

    Perhaps Mr. Fildebrandt will finally learn this lesson now, although he is old enough to already know better. In this case, it is good to see mean spirited and rude behavior getting the treatment it deserves.

    Reply
  11. Expat Albertan

    May 28th, 2016

    There is something particularly odd about young, male conservatives and their toilet training that makes them particularly obnoxious. Pierre Poilievre, Jason Kenney (particularly in the Reform era), that Cooper kid (forgot his first name) who was just elected as an MP, and, of course, Fildebrandt. It’s as if someone pissed in their Cap’n Crunch when they were kids and they’ve been angry ever since.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      May 29th, 2016

      Michael Cooper.

      Reply
  12. Rob Wells

    May 29th, 2016

    Don’t you hear the banjos plunking?

    Reply

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