Annus Horribilis 2017: Derek Fildebrandt ends his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year with a bang … literally!

Posted on December 14, 2017, 1:16 am
8 mins

PHOTOS: United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney with Derek Fildebrandt in happier times. At the moment, Mr. Fildebrandt may be the bane of Mr. Kenney’s existence. One of them, anyway. Below: Elmer Fudd … the comparison to Mr. Fildebrandt is irresistible. And Mr. Kenney with Jason Nixon, the UCP’s House Leader and posterboy for how not to deal with sexual harassment in a company you run. (Photos come from politicians’ social media pages; the cartoon character from the Wikimedia Commons.)

Round up your livestock, O farmers of Alberta!

Derek Fildebrandt may be a city boy at heart, but he’ll likely have to run in rural Alberta if he wants to stay in politics. So Alberta’s Conservative problem child may have concluded shooting large hoofed mammals with powerful firearms would go over well with the yeoman farmers of southern Alberta who are his constituents now.

After all, it appears to work for rural Republican politicians south of the 49th Parallel, whence the querulous Ottawa-born founder of the “Reagan-Goldwater Society” at his alma mater, Carleton University, seems to get much of his strategic inspiration.

But it’s hard to imagine the Strathmore-Brooks MLA’s latest brush with the law, which involves being caught hunting illegally on private farm land, is going to do much to enhance his re-election chances in rural Alberta in the general election expected in 2019.

For one thing, we all know how farmers feel about city slickers wandering uninvited onto their property with big guns, Elmer Fudd caps from Cabela’s, a sketchy knowledge of large ungulates, and a desire to shoot something on four legs.

The self-described liberty conservative’s latest legal troubles won’t even assure his until-recently-assumed swift readmission to the United Conservative Party caucus in the Alberta Legislature by his friend Jason Kenney, that party’s leader.

Mr. Fildebrandt, 32, resigned under pressure from the UCP Caucus in mid-August in the wake of two politically embarrassing situations – getting caught renting his taxpayer-subsidized Edmonton condo on Airbnb and allegedly crashing his huge pickup truck into another vehicle in the building’s parking lot, then taking off without leaving his name.

As the Globe and Mail reported then, “the close scrutiny given to his questionable expenses and legal blunders likely stems from his long-time role as a political agitator.” Before becoming a Wildrose Party MLA in 2015, you see, Mr. Fildebrandt was well known as an unpleasantly aggressive operative for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, an anti-tax Astro-Turf organization.

Nevertheless, Mr. Fildebrandt’s readmission to the UCP Caucus was widely expected as soon as Mr. Kenney got himself a seat in the Legislature in the Calgary-Lougheed by-election taking place today. Mr. Fildebrandt needs to be welcomed back because there’s no way he’ll be reelected in 2019 unless he’s a candidate for the UCP.

Piling illegal hunting onto his previous legal and ethical troubles, though, will not speed his return!

News reports yesterday said Mr. Fildebrandt was caught near the town of Sundre on Nov. 4 in unlawful possession of wildlife (a deer he had shot) and being on private land without permission. A farmer complained to provincial Fish and Wildlife officers about an unwelcome hunter. The MLA does not dispute the charges. Indeed, he has apologized to everyone. He has a court date on Feb. 2 in the nearby town of Didsbury.

Meanwhile, his timing couldn’t be less propitious. Mr. Fildebrandt already has a court hearing next Monday in the matter of the disputed parking lot collision. As noted, Mr. Kenney’s by-election campaign reaches its climax in Calgary tomorrow. And the UCP Caucus in the Legislature was already scrambling to minimize the damage done by Tuesday’s revelation Opposition House Leader Jason Nixon’s former consulting company once fired a single mom it employed because she complained about a contractor who was sexually harassing her.

The discovery of Mr. Nixon’s method of dealing with harassment at his company came right after he’d argued in the Legislature such matters should be left to private companies like his to sort out. The UCP’s embarrassment was so acute it dropped its attack on the NDP Government’s Bill 30, An Act to Protect the Health and Well-being of Working Albertans, which requires employers to implement sexual harassment policies.

The UCP had planned to stage a bitter fight against the bill, extending the 22-day fall sitting of the Legislature if possible. Instead, they gave up with a whimper yesterday, letting the NDP bring the busy session to an end as it desired.

Government House Leader Brian Mason mocked the UCP’s “damage control” efforts, suggesting “they’re getting out of there as fast as they can” with their “tail between their legs.”

Well, in fairness, they have bigger fish to fry today in Mr. Kenney’s bid to get into the House, where he can control his fractious, B-Team caucus.

At least one poll – albeit one readers may not have full confidence in – is said to have given Mr. Kenney 60 per cent support in the safe Conservative riding.

Still, in light of unexpected election outcomes in the past couple of days, Mr. Kenney would surely rather be concentrating on his main chance right now.

On Monday in British Columbia, Liberal Gordie Hogg won what was supposed to be a rock solid Conservative seat in a federal by-election for the South Surrey-White Rock riding. It was the first time in 70 years the Liberals have managed to represent any part of the riding.

And yesterday, of course, Democrat Doug Jones scored what is being called “an unimagined victory” in the race for the U.S. Senate seat in another seven-letter jurisdiction starting with A.

So the possibility, however slim, that since political lightning has struck twice, it might strike a third time, must have occurred to Mr. Kenney’s strategic brain trust.

Mr. Fildebrandt’s big game hunting adventure, at least, probably means Mr. Nixon is less likely to be demoted or sent packing by Mr. Kenney after Tuesday’s embarrassment. As for the errant marksman’s return to the bosom of the UCP, that may depend on Mr. Kenney’s margin of victory today.

If it is huge, the UCP leader may feel he can do what he pleases. If it is lower than expected, he may be inclined to take more care with his personnel problems. And if by some miracle he loses, well, all bets would be off, wouldn’t they?

19 Comments to: Annus Horribilis 2017: Derek Fildebrandt ends his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year with a bang … literally!

  1. Jerrymacgp

    December 14th, 2017

    “…Errant marksman…” Actually, I don’t think it’s Mr Fildebrandt’s marksmanship that’s in question—he killed the deer he’s accused of illegally hunting—but his judgement and maybe his orienteering skills (orienteering being the wild land walkabout equivalent to navigation). He claims he thought he was on Crown land, when in fact he was on some farmer’s precious private property, hallowed ground in the world of the right wing.

    Look up ”irony” in the dictionary and you will see Derek’s portrait.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      December 14th, 2017

      This may surprise you, Jerry, but I thought carefully about this issue before putting electrons to virtual paper. The error in question refers to Mr. Fildebrandt’s choice of target, not the accuracy of his marksmanship. I concluded, after considerable thought, that this it is entirely logical and internally consistent to use the phrase this way. Therefore, I simply refuse to stand corrected! DJC

      Reply
      • Jerrymacgp

        December 14th, 2017

        Lol point taken … 🙂

        Reply
    • Kang the barbarian

      December 14th, 2017

      It may be less ironic than you think. Kenney is already on record as saying they will have a Minister for deregulation which is code for keeping the regulatory system captured by industry (as Notley has done). As one of Kenney’s agents, Derek-the-younger was simply exercising the right of the 1% to eminent domain.

      Speaking of which, it is pretty hard to mistake pasture for Crown land, even for someone who grew up in Ottawa.

      Reply
      • Sam Gunsch

        December 14th, 2017

        As a former hunter, in AB, when seeking permission for access to leased land and private land I learned AB has created several notations/permissions for cultivation of long-term leased land.

        That said, a completely unnecessary dunderheaded choice by D.F. to not ask permission to be certain and legal. Probably 80% at least of landowners down there would be UCP/WRP supporters and probably even would have offered advice on the best spots.

        Just dumb. Or arrogant. Or something. With all the crap he’s stepped in already. Unbelievably clueless.

        Reply
  2. Anne Peterson

    December 14th, 2017

    I don’t trust the polls anymore. How can those firms poll the young folks with cell phones. In my experience even their parents are not quite sure at times what their cell phone numbers are.

    Reply
  3. TENET

    December 14th, 2017

    Lougheed to the rescue?

    Reply
  4. tom in ontario

    December 14th, 2017

    How can I contribute to the Derek Fildebrandt-Jason Nixon re-election campaigns?

    Reply
  5. brett

    December 14th, 2017

    ….and this is the person who aspired to a leadership position!

    Perhaps leader of the the ‘the gang who could not shoot straight’ but that, from my perspective would represent the outer limit of his abilities.

    Just goes to show what a difference there can be when we separate talk, bluster, and boasting from reality and personal characteristics, and integrity.

    Reply
  6. Mike

    December 14th, 2017

    Wasn’t another Alberta MLA caught for hunting on private property back in the 80’s?

    Reply
  7. brett

    December 14th, 2017

    What is it about the people who work at the Canadian Taxpayers Assoc?

    They never seem to want to get a real job in the real world. Harper, Kenney, Filldebrandt to name a few.

    So odd, they go right from the Taxpayer’s Assoc to the public tit so to speak. No stopping in between from some real world, real life experience.

    Those folks in the Reform Party made me laugh a few years ago. Made a big public deal out of turning their backs on the MP Pension Plan and refusing to belong to it..

    Three or four years later they (and Manning) completely avoiding telling the public that they had approached then PM Cretien to quietly pass an Order-in Council to get them all back in to the plan AND give them pension credit for the intervening period. The only person who chose to stay out of the plan was Manning. The rest eagerly headed directly to the trough to tuck in.

    Reply
  8. David

    December 14th, 2017

    I thought the UCP was going to solve all of Alberta’s problem as soon as they win power in the province. But with all the problems they have with their elected members either shooting themselves in the foot or shooting wildlife on private land where they don’t have permission to hunt how can they solve the province’s economic problems when they can’t solve their own party’s problems?

    And with Brad Wall quitting politics in Saskatchewan the ‘real leader’ of western Canada won’t be able to help them. And not only that he doesn’t want Alberta residents working in Saskatchewan unless they register their vehicles in the province.

    Reply
  9. David

    December 14th, 2017

    It hasn’t been a good week for former Wildrose MLA’s, first Mr. Nixon’s firing of the woman who was sexually assaulted came up and now Mr. Fildebrandt was out shooting out deer without permission. Well Mr. Fildebrandt seems to be determined to kill his political future and with this latest in a string on incidents, may finally be as successful in killing it as he was in killing the deer.

    The former Wildrose MLA/briefly UCP MLA I think, was on the cover of the Edmonton Sun today and not in a good way for a paper that usually gives nice coverage to the UCP. Let’s remember the former Wildrose Party was also a vocal and consistent advocate for landowners rights. Shooting a deer without the landowners permission is not going to go over well in rural Alberta and certainly not with the former Wildrose crowd. Those no trespassing signs in the country side are not for decoration (unlike some no parking signs in the city) and are intended to be taken quite seriously.

    I think any plans for Kenney had to quietly bring Fildebrandt back in the the UCP in the near future are now deader than that deer.

    Reply
  10. Farmer B

    December 14th, 2017

    As a farmer who hunts and who deals with hunters on a regular basis who are hunting without permission I will offer my perspective. First off when hunting I only hunt on land on which I have verbal permission to do so. When I am out hunting I regularly run into people that don’t have a clue who owns the land and really don’t care, they just want to hunt. As a landowner I have no problem with hunters as long as they ask permission. In Derek Fildebrandt’s case, as an Alberta MLA you should strive to hold yourself to a high standard. While I appreciate that the excitement of the hunt can temporarily cloud your judgement, in his case he should have attempted to err on the side of caution. If he was not sure of the owner of the land, he should not have shot, so I have no sympathy. How this will affect his future political career, I can’t say, but he has certainly exhibited poor judgement on more than one occasion.

    Reply
    • December 15th, 2017

      Farmer B, when an unwelcome hunter shoots a moose on your land, do they let you take your saddle off it? 🙂

      Reply
  11. ronmac

    December 14th, 2017

    The good news is Alberta is minus one socialist deer today. Most of the deer these days prefer to hang around farmer’s fields, living off the crumbs and whatnot, instead of getting a job and learning the virtues of self sufficiency. In other words, our deer population has become content living of the backs of others.

    Reply
  12. CovKid

    December 14th, 2017

    Ignominy: thy name is Fildebrandt!

    May he never haunt these halls (and constituencies) again.

    Reply
  13. Chris

    December 18th, 2017

    Showy, loud, and holier-than-thou Canadian politicians who show poor judgement tend to dissappear rather quickly after their fall from grace. Anyone remember NDP’s Svend “The Jewel Thief” Robinson? Mr. Fildebrandt better start writing his resume (alot of creative editing will no doubt be required). Strathmore is a very safe conservative riding and I am sure Jason Kenney will have no problem discarding the brash upstart to the dust bins of history.

    Reply
  14. brett

    December 18th, 2017

    Guilty of hit and run.

    Fined $407.

    Guess that he will either try to expense it or do some additional AIRBNB rentals to cover the fine.

    This sad story appears to go to his character and to his apparent lack of integrity. Cannot see Jason Kenney giving him another bear hug in the near future!

    No doubt some of his supporters will claim that it was a significant miscarriage of justice. All he had to do was do the right thing. Leave a note on the windshield or track down the owner. Very poor judgement. Would his supporters feel any different if it were their vehicle that sustained hit and run damage from him?

    Reply

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