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.

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  1. I can’t help but think Derek is the lost Bundy brother? Or perhaps the crazy Canadian cousin they don’t talk about.

  2. Was that a cheap glass of wine or a glass of cheap wine Mr. Fildebrandt was sipping? Sounds as though Mr. F is getting used to the privileges of office. I was reminded of Senator Nancy Ruth’s complaint about the “cold Camembert” on her taxpayer-paid travel.

  3. Mr. Fildebrandt may only be 31, but that should be old enough by now to have some idea of what he really wants to be when he grows up. Does he want to be a homophobic Facebook posting social conservative that was even too much for Mr. Jean to stand, or does he want to be a Mad Max libertarian, free enterprise type of Conservative, that was even too much for a slight majority of the Federal Conservatives to stand?

    Perhaps Mr. Fildebrandt found his wine a bit bitter on the trip home because he was surprised that the free enterprise conservative type that he thought so appealed to Alberta Conservatives was not able to appeal to enough Federal Conservatives. If the arrival of Mr. Kenney on the Alberta scene did not already provide a big clue, this moment may have been the final revelation to Mr. Fildebrandt that social conservatives now rule the conservative movement, Federally and likely in Alberta too. Taking away dairy quotas will probably not sell any better to Alberta farmers than it did to farmers elsewhere in Canada. As a rural MLA, you might think Fildebrandt should have already figured that one out.

  4. “revolution conservatism”? “liberty-conservatism”? Derek doesn’t recognize an oxymoron when he says it.

  5. On pipelines and the BC deal: no Alberta politician, whatever the stripe, could ever hope to succeed here in Oilbertistan without being in favour of pipelines to the sea. Our choice, really, is not pro-pipelines or anti-pipelines, as it was in BC, but pro-pipelines and anti-people, or pro-pipelines and pro-people. If Ms Notley & Co. had not been in favour of pipelines, we would not have gotten:
    – workplace safety laws for farm workers
    – legal limits on predatory payday loan companies
    – progress towards a living wage in Alberta
    – legislation mandating home builders be licensed (who knew they hadn’t been? I sure didn’t … )
    – modernization of the Employment Standards and Labour Relations Codes
    – legislation mandating all deaths of children in government care be investigated, full stop.

    … and so much more. Had the Notley NDP opposed pipelines during the campaign, we would probably have gotten a Wildrose government, and how bad would that have been? It’s irrelevant, really, whether pipelines make any real economic sense (I for one would prefer upgrading and refining be done here in AB, but … ); they are essentially a shibboleth in the province.

    1. Jerry one thing you forgot in Premier Notlet’s list of accomplishments. Ontario used to hold the title for highest per capita debt per person. In the 2009/10 budget year Ontario added 1661 dollars of debt(in 2015 dollars) per person in one year. Alberta’s budget deficit in 2015-16 was 2513 dollars per person. Worse yet, Alberta’s budget plan calls for this to continue. Yup the NDP are doing great!

  6. I looked at the Alberta NDP’s latest budget documents online. A few numbers jumped out at me. Revenue from corporate taxes is roughly 4 billion dollars. For 2016-2017 bitumen revenue is 1.2 billion and is projected to increase 5.2 billion by 2019-2020. The reason I point these numbers out is that those on the left and those in the environmental movement believe we should not build any more pipelines and Alberta’s oil should be left in the ground.

    The left of center politicians always want to raise corporate tax and to quit producing oil. If you look at the numbers, yes you could double the corporate tax rate from 12%, where it is now, to 24% over the next 3 years and replace the projected 4 billion dollar projected increase in bitumen revenue in theory. In reality the gain in revenue would be much less due the much higher corporate tax rate in Alberta than the rest of Canada and businesses reorganizing or leaving Alberta. If you could double corporate tax revenue we still have a large yearly deficit which would require at least another 10 billion in revenue. My question is this, can anyone show me realistic numbers on how Alberta will balance its budget without resource revenue and without a sales tax? Corporate taxes could never be high enough to fill this void, if we raised them from 12% to say 48% you might come close if not a single business left Alberta, but we all know with taxes that high there would be no business left.

    1. One alternative to tar pipelines is to refine the stuff in Alberta to jet fuel, synthetic oil etc. just like the Koch Bros. are now doing. But that would take some government regulation rather like Lougheed imposed to create the petro-chemical plants near Red Deer or as Klein did to create the rubber recycling industry in Alberta.

      Remember the petroleum is owned in large part by the people of Alberta. Sadly the right wing is too lazy or blind to impose this and the so-called left is too cowardly.

  7. Mr Fildebrandt stands out as a perfect example of why I never considered voting WRP.

    Furthermore, I doubt very much whether I will return to the fold and support the ‘new’ party because it will be a divided party. Who knows what faction will take control. There will be more efforts expended on this constant internal struggle than there will be with working for the best interest of Albertans and moving Alberta forward.

    Really, would anyone want Derek Fildebrandt as a Cabinet Minister……let alone a member of a Government???

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