How but as a leadership campaign brochure are we to interpret Derek Fildebrandt’s paean to ‘Max’ Bernier?

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PHOTOS: Derek Fildebrandt, the Alberta Wildrose Party’s finance critic and, possibly, third unofficial candidate to enter the non-race to lead the still-nonexistent United Conservative Party. Below: Maxime Bernier (Photo: CBC), who is apparently Mr. Fildebrandt’s ideological hero, and British Columbia NDP Leader John Horgan, who seems very close to grasping the first-ministerial brass ring in the province next door, accompanied by a familiar looking guy.

Derek Fildebrandt, virtual finance critic for Alberta’s Opposition Wildrose Party, yesterday seems to have launched his campaign to lead the province’s new United Conservative Party.

OK, it’s not actually a campaign. After all, the You-See-Pee, as the party is already universally known, doesn’t even exist yet, except perhaps as a twinkle in Progressive Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney’s eye.

Still, how else but as a draft campaign brochure are we to explain Mr. Fildebrandt’s rambling paean to Maxime Bernier, the unexpectedly unsuccessful longtime front-runner to lead the Conservative Party of Canada, which appeared in the pages of the National Post yesterday?

“For those of us who supported the man we call ‘Mad Max,’ Bernier’s loss was a heartbreaking disappointment,” emoted Mr. Fildebrandt, who hitherto has based a significant portion of his political activities on trolling progressive types on social media to the great distress of Wildrose Party Leader Brian Jean.

Alert readers will recall how, back in May 2016, Mr. Jean fired, and was then forced to hastily un-fire, his finance critic for praising another Facebook account holder’s homophobic smear of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. Mr. Fildebrandt explained at the time he hadn’t fully read the post he’d praised. He promised to get someone to manage his social media accounts for him when the screams of his supporters had sufficiently unnerved Mr. Jean.

Regardless, commentary longer than that required for an intemperate Tweet or a misspelled Facebook meme is something new for Mr. Fildebrandt, and presumably offers an opportunity for the Ottawa native to set himself apart from Mr. Kenney and Mr. Jean who, up to now, were considered the most likely rivals to emerge as leader of the UCP, if and when it slouches into Red Deer to be born.

According to Mr. Fildebrandt’s windy commentary yesterday in the Post, Mr. Bernier’s campaign “was unlike any other for high national office in the modern history of Canada. … It was not a traditional campaign focused on his likeableness or on minor ideological differences from other candidates, but rather one that proposed wholesale reform and sweeping policy changes. Max’s campaign was not simply about a candidate. It was a movement to revolutionize Canadian conservatism.” (Emphasis added.)

What’s more … attention all members of the Wildrose Party’s sizeable market-fundamentalist fringe! … nobody would be better at revolutionizing Alberta conservatism than the opinionated MLA for Strathmore-Brooks, who also tends not to focus very hard on likeability.

At the very least, when Mr. Fildebrandt lauds Mr. Bernier for not running a mere campaign, but founding a movement that “can broadly be described as liberty-conservatism,” he is likely ensuring his prose a permanent place of honour in the pantheon of “Mega-Drivel,” along with Conrad Black’s latest attacks on the perfidies of the American justice system!

Mr. Bernier’s campaign, Mr. Fildebrandt enthused, was characterized by “an aggressive, no holds barred libertarianism that would end conservative inconsistency.” And you know what they say, there’s no inflexible ideologue like a young inflexible ideologue. (Mr. Fildebrandt is 31.)

Mr. Fildebrandt, founder of the Reagan-Goldwater Society at his hometown Carleton University, may have stretched Mr. Bernier’s campaign achievement just a little when he claimed him as one of Alberta’s own who “broke down the centuries-long solitudes of French and English conservatism.”

In fact, there are few enough Cap-C Conservatives left in Quebec that Mr. Bernier is all but irrelevant in his home province – as the Tories’ own voting statistics indicate. Mr. Fildebrandt reckons the Bernier campaign “took on sacred cows that no major, national candidate had been willing to talk seriously about before.” A more sensible reading of the former frontrunner’s strategy is that the Hon. Member for Beauce could get away with attacking supply managed dairy farms because he was unlikely to get much support from that quarter no matter what he said.

Never mind, though. The National Post and its provincial Frankenpapers exist to publish this kind of nonsense. Mr. Fildebrandt’s opus made a nice change yesterday from all the other Post articles trying to paper over winner Andrew Scheer’s potentially electorally poisonous social conservatism.

“As I write this article on a plane flying home to Alberta, it is with a heavy heart and a cheap glass of wine on my tray table,” Mr. Fildebrandt summed up. “… I don’t often quote Bible verses, but I shared one with Max before I boarded the plane home on Sunday afternoon. From II Timothy 4:8: ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.’”

As one who does quote the Bible from time to time, and who has learned never to drink and write, I have some scriptural advice for Mr. Fildebrandt. It comes from King Solomon himself, who enjoyed a reputation for wisdom in his day, and is helpful to writers of florid prose, whatever their purpose: “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red … At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.”

B.C. NDP-Green alliance will require rhetorical recalibrations in Alberta

Yesterday’s announcement that British Columbia’s New Democrats and the westernmost province’s Green Party have found a way to put aside their differences and build a four-year governing alliance will require some recalibration in the rhetoric of both left and the right in Alberta.

B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan and Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver told an afternoon news conference they would topple the B.C. Liberal government of Premier Christy Clark at the first possible opportunity.

I imagine for the moment Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP will emphasize the argument the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project has already been approved and therefore can never be stopped by the government of British Columbia, while the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative Opposition parties will swiftly revert to blaming Alberta’s New Democrats for the policies of their British Columbian cousins, and those in turn for the state of the entire world economy.

Since, as previously discussed in this space, the whole theory of fresh-water and Asian premiums for Alberta bitumen is a highly questionable one, the entire discussion may not be very meaningful except as an expression of politics. In that regard, however, it is likely to be significant.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

Categories Alberta Politics