PHOTO: Now-restored Wildrose Party Finance Critic Derek Fildebrandt and party Leader Brian Jean, photographed in happier times. (Photo grabbed from Mr. Jean’s Facebook page.) Below: A screen capture of the photo accompanying today’s news release on the Wildrose Party website.
Wildrose Opposition Brian Jean appears to have been operating in violation of the party’s constitution when he tried to suspend renegade MLA Derek Fildebrandt late Friday night.
Article 9.3 of the Wildrose Constitution, as adopted by the party’s members in 2015, states unequivocally that “members of Caucus may only be ordered expelled from Caucus on the initiative of the Leader and supported by a majority vote of Caucus, held by secret vote by ballot.” (Emphasis added; temptation to edit resisted.)
It’s hard to see how Mr. Jean, who was in Vancouver attending the federal Conservative Party’s policy convention and farewell bunfest for former prime minister Stephen Harper, could have arranged a secret ballot of his caucus.
After all, at least some caucus members were here in Alberta, and Mr. Fildebrandt himself, a member of caucus too who by his own testimony was surprised by the late-night press release announcing his putative expulsion, presumably didn’t get to vote.
This might partly account for the short Wildrose Party press release this afternoon welcoming back Mr. Fildebrandt and including a carefully parsed denial of yesterday’s media and blogosphere reports on the conditions Mr. Jean tried to impose on Mr. Fildebrandt before he would be readmitted to caucus.
“The multiple alleged conditions reported yesterday in the media were not accurate,” the news release said.
If the story was wrong, however, the Wildrose Party missed a perfect opportunity to correct it yesterday when I asked two senior party communications officials if the reports were accurate. Neither responded to my emails.
Accompanied by a photo of the Wildrose caucus climbing stairs together, the party news release said Mr. Fildebrandt had agreed to “a plan to better handle and control social media, including hiring a social media manager to handle public interactions.” That was all.
Postmedia’s Alberta newspapers, meanwhile, reported confidently this afternoon that Mr. Fildebrandt had been restored to full caucus membership without agreeing to the five conditions he was supposedly required to meet before readmission.
This must be excruciatingly embarrassing to Mr. Jean personally, who has been revealed to have less power than a loose-cannon MLA who has made a nuisance of himself for a year. It also reveals the party to be deeply divided with the most right-wing faction led by Mr. Fildebrandt – often known as Team Angry by opponents of the Wildrose Party – firmly in the drivers seat.
This humiliation of Mr. Jean significantly degrades whatever authority he had left in an organization edging ever closer to becoming the Wild Rose Hip Tea Party. Let the intramural #Kudatah plotting resume.