Derek Fildebrandt’s mini-Skypalace: proof Tory entitlement is still a thing in Alberta

Posted on August 11, 2017, 1:06 am
11 mins

PHOTOS: A scene from Derek Fildebrandt’s mini-Skypalace, the taxpayer subsidized Fildepartment in downtown Edmonton, grabbed from his Airbnb listing. Note the binoculars to the right of the window, presumably used for spotting examples of taxpayer dollars being wasted in the high-rises beyond. Below: The Fildebed, the Fildecloset, the Fildepot and the Fildebrandt.

Can you imagine how Derek Fildebrandt would have reacted if an Alberta civil servant had been caught on out-of-town work assignment staying with a friend and renting his government-paid hotel room to strangers for cash?

Can you imagine what Mr. Fildebrandt would have said if the civil servant in this hypothetical situation had been a member of a public service union?

I think we all know the answers to these questions. But just in case you can’t imagine what he might have said, blogger Dave Cournoyer has imagined it for you.

Mr. Fildebrandt has literally made a career – first as a spokesperson for the so-called Canadian Taxpayers Federation, later as a Wildrose and now United Conservative Party MLA – of being a self-righteous and harsh critic of “government waste” (as defined by him) and special interest groups with their snouts in the trough (also as defined by him).

Now the Strathmore-Brooks MLA been caught red handed, plucky little entrepreneur that he was, renting out his government subsidized mini-Skypalace condo apartment high above downtown Edmonton to strangers through the Airbnb online lodging brokerage.

His defence? No rules were broken. If this sounds like Alison Redford to you, it surely must to others too.

Mr. Fildebrandt has been such an unfair, unpleasant and consistent critic of public employees in particular, it’s hard not to feel a certain degree of schadenfreude at his self-inflicted predicament.

It’s also easy to make light of his ethically questionable behaviour, all the more so because it’s obvious he doesn’t really think there was anything wrong with it. Many of us gave in to this temptation last night when the Edmonton Journal made official the story that had been broken, with additional salacious details, by Ottawa Frank Magazine on July 24. The Twitter hashtags that followed were priceless: #Fildepockets #Filderent #Fildekarma #PrincipledYoungConservative … Talk about Fildembarrassing!

But what Mr. Fildebrandt’s latest problem and his initial reaction to it really made clear – and not just about him – is that Conservative entitlement in Alberta remains a thing. The normal rules of ethical conduct are still for everyone else, not for Tories of any stripe.

Mr. Fildebrandt called the Journal’s report a “smear.” He said no rules were broken. And he blamed former Wildrose leader and UCP leadership contender Brian Jean, his potential political nemesis, for the leak. That’s possible, but Mr. Fildebrandt is a politician who has gone out of his way to make a lot of enemies, and then to thumb his nose at them. So Mr. Jean isn’t the only obvious suspect for the leak.

“$2,555 over 8 months letting out my Edmonton home while unused,” Mr. Fildebrandt Tweeted self-righteously. “I won’t let smear distract from real issues & donate to the AB debt,” he added, although whether or not the Journal’s accurate report becomes a “distraction” won’t really be up to Mr. Fildebrandt.

Speaking of imagining things, can you imagine what the CTF would have said if it had been an NDP or Liberal MLA caught doing this? Instead, the reaction by the “tax watchdog” organization to its former Alberta director’s misadventure seemed to me to be quite muted.

The group’s national spokesperson, the usually prolific Tweeter Aaron Wudrick, referred all queries to its interim Alberta spokesman, Colin Craig, until recently a Manning Centre operative. (CTF Alberta Director Paige MacPherson is off on a maternity leave, presumably of the sort the group would normally think of as “taxpayer supported.”)

For his part, Mr. Craig published a couple of mildly disapproving Tweets – “the funds aren’t meant for MLAs to earn income from” – that hinted at a wish to get quickly back to more important stories, like complaining about the cost and aesthetics of public art in Calgary. Apparently embarrassed by Tweeted mockery, Mr. Craig later published a cringeworthy list of his media interviews on the topic.

Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark certainly knew a good issue when he saw it, accusing Mr. Fildebrandt of “using taxpayer dollars to line his own pockets” and demanding a formal investigation. “Derek Fildebrandt broke the rules,” Mr. Clark stated. “There is no way he can get out of this.” Political commentator Warren Kinsella went quite a bit farther than that.

But how Jason Kenney, frontrunner for the UCP leadership, will react remains to be made clear. (The timing of the Frank story certainly puts Mr. Fildebrandt’s withdrawal this week from the UCP leadership race in a different light.)

Like Mr. Fildebrandt, Mr. Kenney is a former CTF operative. Unlike Mr. Fildebrandt, he is not an MLA just now, but he is already, for all practical purposes, very close to being the boss of the UCP Caucus in the Legislature.

According to UCP MLA Mike Ellis, a former police officer, the caucus is “carefully reviewing” Mr. Fildebrandt’s claims. It’s not clear if that review will include all of Mr. Fildebrandt’s expenses, just in case his condo’s use as a hotel room strayed into its purpose as a home away from the MLA’s residence in Calgary.

According to a statement by UCP interim Leader Nathan Cooper last night, “Derek has apologized for renting his Edmonton home out and has given the proceeds to the taxpayer. Effective today he is taking a leave of absence from his co-critic finance role.”

Mr. Fildebrandt issued his own apology, or someone did on his behalf. “Since January I believed that renting out my Edmonton home while I was away was above board and never costed (sic) the taxpayer anything extra. I however recognize the perception that this is not good enough, and have spoken with my constituents, and they are never wrong. I apologize.”

… “I am scheduled to leave for a family vacation out of province tomorrow and will be taking a leave of absence from my finance duties effective today,” the statement said.

In light of the Alberta conservative movement’s history of entitled attitudes, how the United Conservative Party deals with Mr. Fildebrandt will be an important test.

A mere leave of absence or the strategy Mr. Kenney used during his school “outing” controversy of leaving the province and not answering his phone isn’t going to make the grade. Mr. Kenney needs to be heard from.

It’s happened before, just not quite this way …

This kind of thing has happened before in Alberta, just not quite this way.

Back in April 1992, Conservative Municipal Affairs Minster Dick Fowler, MLA for St. Albert, and Economic Development Minister Peter Elzinga, MLA for Sherwood Park, were both discovered by an enterprising reporter to have billed the government for tens of thousands of dollars in living expenses when their ridings were about 30 minutes from the Legislature.

Between them, the two Tory MLAs billed the Legislature more than $40,000 for their Edmonton residences in the 1991-92 fiscal year.

Their defence? No rules were broken.

The public’s reaction? Not very positive.

The result? They stopped claiming the city apartments – although there’s no indication from the newspaper reports of the day that either ever paid anything back. Premier Don Getty announced a review of MLA expense policy.

Farewell to Brad Wall, the ‘real leader’ of Western Canada

Farewell Brad Wall! It’s not as if we can say we hardly knew ye.

The man Jason Kenney once hailed as “the real leader of Western Canada” has announced he is pulling the plug on politics after a decade as premier of Saskatchewan and 14 years at the helm of the conservatively inclined Saskatchewan Party.

After fibbing his way to another majority government in April 2016, the former Mr. Congeniality of Confederation has seen his popularity plummet among Saskatchewanians in recent months. According to one recent poll, the Saskatchewan NDP is 19 points ahead of the Saskatchewan Party government province-wide.

With NDP governments in British Columbia and Alberta, and Manitoba Conservative Premier Brian Pallister frequently missing in action, presumably making un-FOIP-able phone calls and emails on his wife’s smart phone from his Costa Rican redoubt, it’s unclear who will be the real (conservative) leader of Western Canada now.

I nominate … Derek Fildebrandt!

36 Comments to: Derek Fildebrandt’s mini-Skypalace: proof Tory entitlement is still a thing in Alberta

  1. Bill Malcolm

    August 11th, 2017

    Brad Wall – the praise showered on that misguided lump of humanity, following similar praise for Christy Clark, from certain quarters just blows my mind. Good riddance to both. One can be described as lacking imagination, the other apparently possessed of far too much.

    As for Fildebrandt, his story even made it to the Far East, which for you Westerners means you know actually east of what you seem to regard as The East or Ontario. Yes, down east in Nova Scotia where T.O. is a thousand miles west and regarded as Central Canada. Fildebrandt is obviously a complete opportunist with the ethics of a raccoon and an inability to realize what an utter self-centred idiot he is. Is it possible to “donate” money to a provincial government to “pay down the debt”? There are unlikely to be provisions in place for such things for random minor donors. Next thing you know, he’ll be complaining about the NDP not respecting his “wishes”. That’s the level of blinkered thought I imagine Fildebrandt and fellow travellers possess. Utterly useless people.

    Reply
    • Rocky Raccoon

      August 11th, 2017

      Sir, you do a disservice to raccoons!

      Reply
      • Athabascan

        August 14th, 2017

        Racoons? How do they get into our country anyway? Does Michelle Rempel know about this?

        I think Andrew Sheer and Rempel should go on a US – wide tour starting at Fox News to solicit money for a wall to keep racoons out.

        On second thought, I think Harpers already doing that.

        Reply
    • Expat Albertan

      August 11th, 2017

      Interestingly, you can donate money to any level of government – a cheque to the Receiver-General should do it. But then, in this case, it would be money from ill-gotten gains so you’d have to get the Solicitor-General involved.

      Reply
    • Keith McClary

      August 12th, 2017

      The federal government has such provisions:

      “The relevant page of the CRA’s 2012 General Income Tax and Benefit Guide explains how to donate money to the federal debt servicing and reduction account. The guide writes:

      To make a gift to this account, make it payable to the Receiver General, and send it with a note asking that we apply it to this account, to:

      Place du Portage
      Phase III, 11 Laurier Street
      Gatineau, Quebec
      K1A 0S5
      Donations are tax-deductible: they’ll send you a tax receipt.”

      Reply
  2. August 11th, 2017

    I loved Rachel Notley’s comments: “I have a vehicle that sometimes is parked, it is not my intention to rent it out to Uber, nor is it my intention to pocket the money from that

    Reply
  3. J.E. Molnar

    August 11th, 2017

    The revelations concerning Derek Fildebrandt improprieties are staggering. I wasn’t the first to use the analogy of a pig with lipstick when it comes to the new UCP, but these shocking new reports of the unprincipled acts of Fildebrandt should draw readers back to it.

    Jason Kenney parading around the province campaigning for the Progressive Conservative leadership, while gainfully employed as a sitting member of parliament representing the riding of Calgary Minapore, should undeniably illustrate the issue of entitlement by conservatives. Political larceny never gets old when it comes to conservatives.

    It would appear Fildebrandt has learned at the feet of the “Master” trough feeder. “Grasshopper” needs to do the honourable thing and resign. As Warren Kinsella rightfully points out, the legalities of Fildebrant’s questionable actions border on fraud, with severe penalties should the long arm of the law seek to pursue legal action.

    One can only hope this new iteration of conservatives (UCP) has the gonads and political fortitude to expel him from the party. That would unequivocally send the right message for this new fledgling party.

    Reply
    • Farmer B

      August 12th, 2017

      And how is Jagmeet Singh different from Jason Kenney? He is still gainfully employed as MPP for Bramalea-Gore-Malton while he runs for the leadership of the federal NDP! Please explain the difference J.E.

      Reply
      • Death and Gravity

        August 12th, 2017

        Well, one difference is that Mr. Singh is a sitting member of Parliament running for the leadership of the FEDERAL party to which he belongs. Mr. Kenney, also a MP, was running for leader of a Provincial party which does not even exist.

        See, dear? That wasn’t so hard.

        Reply
        • Farmer B

          August 13th, 2017

          Actually Jagmeet Singh is a sitting member of the Ontario Legislature running for the leadership of a federal party. Jason Kenney was a sitting member of the federal parliament running for the leadership of a provincial PC’s which at the time did exist. The one difference is that by the time the actual leadership race in Alberta began in early October Jason Kenney had resigned his federal seat. In Jagmeet Singh’s case he gas yet to resign his provincial seat in the Ontario legislature but is fully participating in the federal leadership campaign for the NDP. Actually if you look at the facts you are attacking the wrong person! Enjoy your day 🙂

          Reply
          • Death and Gravity

            August 15th, 2017

            I did not know…..I just assumed Singh was an MP. The cases are in truth comparable as you claimed, and I withdraw my condescending “see, dear?” which was uncalled for in the event.

            I will say, I am not really that fussed about the issue as some are; it’s a little from most perpectives for person to use one full time job to gain another, but politics is kinda that way, a bit of an exception.

        • Hana Razga

          August 13th, 2017

          Mr. Singh is a sitting member of Ontario Provincial legislature not member of Parliament.

          Reply
          • Keith McClary

            August 14th, 2017

            Oh, right, the Ontario legislature is a Parliament. Those of us far from the Centre of the Universe may forget that.

          • David Climenhaga

            August 14th, 2017

            Now, now, B.C. Premier W.A.C. Bennett called that province’s Legislature the same thing, and himself the Prime Minister no less. So this is not an exclusively Central Canadian affliction. DJC

  4. August 11th, 2017

    I think that Mr. Fildebrandt will fit right in with the United Conservative Party.

    Heck, he already has the entitlement part down pat. Fast learner when it comes to his own pocketbook.

    But, given his propensity to attract Gov’t money he may prefer a plum job leading a commission…..if there are any plum, overpaid/underworked/underperforming positions left after Notley has concluded the Government’s review of these boards and commissions.

    Mr Fildebrandt has proven to Albertans time and time again that he is full of hot air. An empty suit. Now he has proved that he is just like all the others when it comes to entitlement. His head firmly stuck in the public trough.

    The UCP deserves better. So do Albertans.

    Reply
    • Kang the barbarian

      August 12th, 2017

      Brett: FYI, the NDP did nothing about the Agricultural Check-off Commissions. In fact the NDP have given them more power to levy compulsory production taxes on farmers’ crops. So, how about the Alberta Wheat Commission for young Derek? Its current head is from Saskatchewan and the organization is working to have control of the whole cereals genome given to the Monsantoes of this world. Right up the Wildrose alley so to speak. Then there is barley and beef. Between them they pick farmers’ pockets for about $30 million a year and send their staff and some “lucky” (read Conservative) farmers on world tours. Perhaps Dereck could give them pointers on staying at Air B&Bs instead of luxury hotels in far off lands.

      Reply
  5. Alberta Strong

    August 11th, 2017

    While agree that this is totally unacceptable and hilariously ironic considering his past, anyone who tries to paint this as a party thing is walking around with blinders. It seems that most politicians, regardless of their affiliation are all too eager to take care of themselves first.

    We need to start voting in people who will look after the tax payer instead of pandering for votes to keep their wages and pensions that are an insult to our veterans and seniors.

    Reply
    • August 12th, 2017

      Yep! Ever the ReformaCon mantra: “We’re no worse than anybody else!”

      Reply
    • Death and Gravity

      August 12th, 2017

      Please explain to me why the sentiments of veterans should have any political weight whatsoever.

      Nice try though, to spin the guilt of a Conservative into proof the Conservative Parties should be elected. I suppose it may work on the extremely stupid people you are being paid to influence.

      Reply
  6. Sassy

    August 11th, 2017

    I think Fildebrandt will be pushed out of the party. He blames Brian Jean for exposing his misdeed but I suspect it was a Kenney maneuver. Fildebrandt was valuable while persuading the Wildrosers to vote for unification, now he is a liability. The power brokers behind UCP don’t want loose cannons at this stage of the game. Exposing Fildebrandt’s extremely poor judgement in a fiscal situation gives UCP the excuse they need to move him out. If it wasn’t this, they would have found another way. I’ll miss the entertainment.

    Saskatchewanians may have some small glimmer of hope with Brad Wall’s eventual departure. The big question is will his government’s tax cuts to the rich, punishment of the poor, slashing of services, and sale of Crown corporations continue full speed ahead? I think his name may be irreparably damaged, regardless of what happens. I really hope so – despise liars.

    Reply
    • August 12th, 2017

      Interesting thoughts, Sassy. For a party who has already seen bozo eruptions cost them an election, some elements of the party’s upper echelon must have wondered what to do about the ‘Fildebrandt Problem’, especially when they saw the support Fildebrandt got when Brian Jean tried to suspend him.

      Right after the vote to merge the PCs and Wildrose parties a poll came out reporting the very high support the UPC had. Severasl commentators suggested that this was the party’s high water mark; the party was still new enough it hadn’t done anything to annoy any of its supporters, so it was still the perfect match for everybody. Regardless of how the UCP deals with the Fildebrandt Problem, some people will be left disillusioned.

      Reply
  7. August 11th, 2017

    Just think what Fildebrandt could help himself to if he were in Government and had the keys to the kingdom so to speak. There would be no holding him back. He might even make Alison Redford look like a piker.

    $2550 is chump change when it comes to politicians but it gives you insight as to what he would do if he was in a position of power & influence.

    Fortunately for Albertans, we have had a preview into his character and his integrity. Such as it is. I hope that his constituents reflect on this during the next election.

    Reply
  8. David

    August 11th, 2017

    I think some Conservatives were hopeful that by merging Wildrose and the PC’s would result in a party that combined the best attributes of both parties. However, it is also possible the merged party may inherit many of the worst attributes of both – the PC’s arrogance, sense of entitlement and using public resources to benefit themselves and the Wildrose’s more right wing extreme social conservatism.

    With the Fildebrandt saga, the initial signs for the new party are not very promising. No one has really condemned him and in particular Kenney’s response was very tepid. The only candidate in the leadership race that might be described as moderate seems to have little chance of winning and social conservatives seem to be in the ascendancy now.

    If the new party wants to be taken seriously, they need to do more than give Fildebrandt a brief time out to hide from the media until the dust settles. I suspect he will actually be using his “vacation” to covertly campaign or organize on behalf of Kenney for the leadership. If he later returns to his role as finance critic (or any significant role) in the new party it will signal that they are not serious about dealing with entitlement or bozo eruptions (Fildebrandt being the poster child for that in recent years in the Wildrose). As the saying goes – you only get one chance to make a good first impression and the new UCP seems to be really struggling with that right now.

    Reply
  9. Val

    August 11th, 2017

    Farewell to Brad Wall, the ‘real leader’ of Western Canada
    ————————————————————————————
    hard to see reason for your sarcasm.

    i respect his decision to openly acknowledge own mistakes, inability to change direction and step aside, opening possibility for new fresh approach. quite rare trend among top ranking politicians, isn’t?

    Reply
    • Athabascan

      August 14th, 2017

      Val: You are joking right?

      Brad the Oil & Gas tool? I’m at a loss to decide who was the biggest tool Ralph Klein or Brad Wall.

      Wall was indeed the top ranking political tool in Western Canada, for a short time. Hopefully, his 15 minutes of fame are over and we won’t has to see his miserable mug on the evening news any more.

      Although, I rather suspect he will pop up on Power and Politics along with the usual gallery of idiotic regular rogues pontificating about what’s wrong with Canadian politics.

      Reply
  10. August 11th, 2017

    Has anyone checked if Fildebrandt is also renting home when he is in Edmonton ?

    Reply
  11. August 11th, 2017

    Has anyone checked if Fildebrandt is also renting out his Calgary home when he is in Edmonton ?

    Reply
  12. August 12th, 2017

    I think they should do an audit on his expenses. And publish the results.

    He only acknowledged his ‘mistake’ after it became clear that his colleagues and the public did not accept his first comments about this being a smear. Just shows you what Mr. Filderbrandt thinks about the intelligence of the voting public that he thought they would accept this nonsensical excuse.

    Sort of like a shoplifter apologizing after he/she has been caught red handed with the goods.

    One has to wonder if the apology is real, if he is truly contrite, or if it was made just to move on and get the issue out of the public eye. I assume the latter.

    Reply
    • Val

      August 13th, 2017

      you’re right but at same time sincerity of apology shouldn’t be taken to consideration.
      the fact of gambling of lucrative career for couple thousand extra cash is an apogee of stupidity and clearly demonstrate level of morale and mentality of person. such individual shouldn’t ever have power of decision making position on behalf of another people, independently of ideological and political preferences.

      Reply
      • Athabascan

        August 14th, 2017

        Val: It’s spelled “moral” NOT “morale”. Make Alberta Spell Again, dear.

        Reply
        • Val

          August 15th, 2017

          bene 🙂

          Reply
    • Raja

      August 13th, 2017

      The apology was for the perception of wrong doing, not for the wrong doing! In his mind, I wager he thinks did nothing wrong. Clearly, he has no notions of right and wrong if it’s not spelled out in the rule book. He is still. Going through the stages of apolody: anger at being found out, defending his actions, then ” apologizing” for how we perceived his actions, withdrawing from public view and so on. he clearly know the jig was up when he decided “policy” was more important than running for leadership. Crafty Kenny has covered himself with no honours in the manner he has cynically addressed this issue.
      The arrogance of the natural ruling party aka UCP is breathtaking, their sense of ethics non existent, their mantra: tax the poor, give to the rich ( aka. Job creators), eliminate pesky regulations or enable self regulation, the National Pest as your mouthpiece and viola you have the elements of policy to gull voters

      Reply
  13. August 13th, 2017

    I have come to appreciate Derek Fildebrandt and I hope that he remains in politics.

    From my perspective he provides a great deal of ‘entertainment value’. It is a break from our humdrum politics.

    It is not simply his petty greed. It is some of the other far right nonsense that he dreams up to get his name in the paper and some publicity on the airwaves

    It reminds me of some washed up has been magician trying to do basic magic trick/shows and failing so miserably that it inadvertently becomes a comedy show. He is so young to have reached this stage in politcs already. I can only think of one or two rivals in the public eye-Chris Alexander for one.

    Reply

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