PHOTOS: Derek Fildebrandt in full rhetorical flight before, obviously, a friendly audience. (Screen shot from … wherever.) There goes the author’s theory that just using an Apple computer makes you a better person! Below: Your blogger’s overused photos of UCP leadership candidates Jason Kenney and Brian Jean, a stock shot of hopeful Doug Schweitzer, grabbed from his web page, and proof the author has been able to tie a bow tie for a very long time now.

These are the dog days of summer, the bane of your blogger’s previous existence as a journalist.

The sun beats down. The movers and shakers have all decamped for high-priced vacation spots. News has gone AWOL.

It’s times like these that men like Derek Fildebrandt prove their worth!

Without the Derek Fildebrandts of this world there would be nothing to write about in August but BBQ recipes and instructional manuals for the fashion pages on how to tie a bowtie. (The shame!)

With them, thank goodness, there are amusing stories about disunity amid the not-quite-United Conservatives and the struggles of entrepreneurial publicly subsidized landlords, which are less work to write than thoughtful treatises on the Electoral Boundaries Commission and less frustrating than describing the perfect mimosa while not being permitted to drink on the job.

Mr. Fildebrandt, alas, has pulled the plug on his bid to lead the so-called United Conservative Party and Alberta to market fundamentalist nirvana. Perhaps his United Liberty Ltd. PAC, registered in the office of a small law firm apparently offering online services from the dusty meatpacking city of Brooks, Alberta, failed to raise enough dough.

This would not be completely surprising, seeing as the electors of rural Alberta ridings like Strathmore-Brooks don’t mind a little socialism, as long as it’s flowing mainly in their direction and accompanied by appropriately right-wing rhetoric. Maxime Bernier-style market fundamentalism? Perhaps not, at least if it means closing their nice rural hospital.

At any rate, the self-described “liberty conservative” and founder of the campus Reagan-Goldwater Society at Ottawa’s Carleton University, decided to go out with a bang worthy of Donald J. Trump, almost.

That is to say, the sort of bang associated with a metaphorical grenade, tossed in the general direction of Brian Jean, until recently the leader of the Wildrose Party and generally thought to be the man most capable of offering a credible challenge for the UCP’s leadership to front-runner Jason Kenney. Which is to say, of course, not very credible at all.

But Mr. Kenney, a former utility infielder in the cabinet of former PM Stephen Harper, is not one to leave matters of competition to chance if he doesn’t have to, and so a deal presumably has been cut with Mr. Fildebrandt to win his half-hearted support.

Half hearted, that is, because Mr. Fildebrandt, who obviously thinks he’s a better man than either of the other two, has vowed to remain “neutral” in the race – neutral, that is, except not so neutral about Mr. Jean, whom he declared to be “not the best man to lead the party and lead Alberta.”

Mr. Fildebrandt and Mr. Jean have heartily disliked each other since the latter attempted, unsuccessfully, to fire the former from the Wildrose front benches and caucus in May 2016 for endorsing a social media message by a constituent who posted a homophobic commentary about Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

The social media artiste said he was proud to have an MLA like Mr. Fildebrandt, who told “the truth about Mr. Wynne or whatever the hell she identifies as.”

Mr. Fildebrandt responded by saying he was proud to have a constituent like that too. Then the stuff hit the fan in the Legislature’s cooling system – which may explain why it has occurred to Mr. Kenney to turn the thing off for a spell should he ever gain power.

This all came about after a boorish outburst in the provincial Legislature by Mr. Fildebrandt, then the Wildrose finance critic, directed at Premier Wynne, who was seated in the gallery as a guest of NDP Premier Rachel Notley.

It was not Mr. Fildebrandt’s first bozo eruption, either, and Mr. Jean had the good sense to be embarrassed – which is to say, in the eyes of much of the Wildrose base, the bad sense to be embarrassed.

The upshot was that a few days later, Mr. Jean was forced by his caucus and party to take back Mr. Fildebrandt, with metaphorical scrambled eggs on faces all round, and fake amity has prevailed since, until … well, now.

“I’ve seen a leadership style that focused more on making the party about a single individual than a greater collective,” sniped Mr. Fildebrandt at Mr. Jean, a point the latter might wish to dispute in a fairly obvious way.

“I want a leader who is going to focus on building a party and building a team” – presumably with Mr. Fildebrandt in a prominent spot on it – “and not just promoting themselves and their own personal brand,” Mr. Fildebrandt concluded.

Mr. Kenney, of course, executor of the recent hostile reverse takeovers of the Progressive Conservative Party and then the Wildrose, seems rather less likely to tolerate ideological deviations or bozo eruptions than did Mr. Jean, but that, one supposes, is a bridge to be crossed on another day.

On the other hand, as someone who double-dipped for months as a federal MP while running for the Progressive Conservative leadership, Mr. Kenney may be inclined to overlook complaints that the entrepreneurial finance critic has been caught renting out his Edmonton apartment on Airbnb while claiming $7,720 for accommodation expenses. “It’s the 21st Century,” Mr. Fildebrandt huffed to an Edmonton Journal reporter when caught.

Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer, who has never held public office but seems to have a nicer smile than anyone else in the race, is also running for the UCP leadership, as is former Wildrose Party President Jeff Callaway.

Meanwhile, in the Imperial Capital, Mr. Trump, successor to the Republican leaders mentioned above, Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater, is vowing to reign down fire and fury on North Korea … with, presumably, plenty of gamma rays left over for Alberta, British Columbia and the northwestern United States.

NOTE: This story has been updated to include the name of UCP leadership candidate Jeff Callaway.  

Join the Conversation


  1. Derek Fildebrandt is one of the reasons why I would never support, let alone vote for Wildrose.

    He is not running because he realizes that he has zero chance of winning nor does he have the financial support necessary. This is what it is really all about.

    He is cut from the same cloth as Kenney and Harper inasmuch as he has never really had a real job other than working at the Taxpayers Federation.

    One thing for certain, if Jason Kenney is elected one cabinet seat already has Derek Fildebradt’s name on it. I have little doubt that there has been an agreement made between these two. Politics is a dirty game. Kenney is a master at it. Looks like Fildebradt’s put his finger in the air and made a guess as to which way the winds will ultimately blow.

    1. Thanks for an insightful post. I lived in Calgary and Edmonton for some years in the 70’s so I am always interested in what’s going on. The conservatives (by whichever label they choose) seem to be embracing far right views. Makes Peter Lougheed look great by comparison.
      Again, thanks for your input.

    2. I just read Jason Kenney’s response to the whole situation; he rather tersely said Derek Fildebrand did the right thing by giving the money back.

      It makes me think that you are right, Brett; Jason Kenney did promise Fildebrand a cabinet seat. I also believe Kenney is regretting it now.

  2. I think we are seeing more examples of Derek Fildebrand’s immaturity that other posters have commented on over the past few years.

    It is one thing for Mr. Fildebrand to say he supports Jason Kenney, that happens all the time. For Fildebrand to diss Brian Jean, however, clearly shows that he (Fildebrand) has not thought through the consequences if Mr. Jean should prevail in the UCP leadership race, something that is a very real possibility. Given Fildebrand’s history of bozo eruptions, Jason Kenney must also be questioning the value of having Fildebrand in the UPC caucus.

    Then there is the whole apartment boondoogle. What a minefield! In addition to the obvius reactions, other things to consider are:

    1. The government is in the process of reviewing the Condomium Act, and Airbnb sublets are sure to come under discussion. As an Airbnb renter, Derek Fildebrand is clearly in a conflict of interest.

    2. Aren’t MLAs required to hand off their business interests to a third party so they won’t have anything distracting them from performing their elected duties?

    3. Presumably a cleaning service is cleaning the apartment between renters. Who is paying this service? If it is being attached to Fildebrand’s housing claim, the taxpayer is clearly subsidizing Fildebrand’s business interest. While Fildebrand’s argument that the place is sitting empty anyway may have some merit, the billing the increased cleaning costs to the taxpayer is clearly inappropriate.

    4. In the newspaper story David linked to, Derek Fildebrand argues that he has been quite open about his Airbnb activities, and implies that the story broke in response to his criticism of Brian Jean. Assuming this is true, what does it say about about the moral compass of the entire Wildrose/UCP caucus? Did no one have a problem with Fildebrand going through the rules to see how he could twist them to his own financial advantage? While Derek Fildebrand’s Airbnb activities may be within the rules, it sure flies in the face of the WR/UCP claim to be superior money managers. It is yet one more example of the fiscal hawk’s unofficial motto: I AM OPPOSED TO ALL GOVERNMENT WASTE (unless its wasted on me)

  3. Actually I believe the original article on this was in the Frank Magazine in late July. My personal opinion is this destroys his credibility and he should resign.

    1. It has definitely destroyed his credibility. Based on the CBC phone-in show yesterday, however, Derek Fildebrand still has his share of supporters. If he does not resign, he will present a real conundrum for whoever prevails in the UPC leadership race come the 2019 election. Will the UPC accept him as a candidate? Will the new party’s constitution even give the leadership the authority to override a local nomination? Is the year and a half until nominations start enough time for people to forget this issue?

      Interesting times.

  4. Where does one begin with the antics of Mr. Fildebrandt? He certainly is a treasure trove of entertainment for those interested in politics. Yes, his latest misadventure is something to keep things interesting during the dog days of summer when not too much else is happening.

    I think the source of his latest problem starts with his strange idea of being “neutral” in the UCP leadership race. I realize he might be feeling some frustration about his inability to launch his own leadership campaign and apparently still has a huge grudge against his former leader Mr. Jean, but true neutrality would involve not publicly sniping at Mr. Jean again right after saying he was neutral. I don’t think that went over very well with some in the UCP, so someone (perhaps a supporter of Mr. Jean, or perhaps not – one shouldn’t assume) must have decided they finally had enough of all of Mr. Fildebrandt’s whining and yapping.

    At this point I don’t think it gets any better for Mr. Fildebrandt – only worse. While in the short term he may prove useful to the Kenney campaign to help them beat Mr. Jean, in the long run I don’t think Mr. Kenney wants an MLA prone to bozzo eruptions, who is not a team player and who does and says various other embarrassing or unpredictable things. Mr. Jean may not have been able to bring Mr. Fildebrandt under control because of pressure from some in his own party, but after the leadership race there will be much less tolerance for bozos, especially if the more message controlled Kenney wins.

    Mr. Fildebrandt’s double dipping has now been publicly exposed. It is exactly the sort of thing he would have railed against loudly before he was elected as an MLA, so we can probably now add hypocrisy to the list of his sins too. He now comes across as exactly the type of entitled, self interested politician the Wildrose and presumably the UCP claim to be against. The other parties will take every opportunity to remind voters of this. He is now damaged goods and while I am sure Mr. Kenney might still covertly welcome his support, it would be too much of an embarrassment to publicly associate with him. Thus, Mr. Fildebrandt will have to continue to officially awkwardly remain neutral (even though he is really not) and I am sure Mr. Kenny will not want to put Fildebrant in a prominent role if he wins the UCP leadership. If somehow against all the preordained powers that be, Mr. Jean wins the leadership, well Mr. Fildebrandt’s seat will likely be moving as far back as possible.

    I suppose before the next election Mr. Fildebrandt will leave elected politics and go back to being a blow hard railing against politicians double dipping, which is hilarious. Perhaps there is a future for him as a talk radio host in Strathmore or Brooks, where he can continue to be entertaining but to a more limited audience.

    In some ways, it is too bad that Mr. Fildebrandt let his ego, ambition and grudges he was unable to let go of do him in. For a while after Ms. Smith left, he was the great young hope of the Wildrose party. Such promise then and such disappointment now.

  5. Derek still hasn’t produced a shadow budget has he?

    Is Derek’s decision to make money off the Alberta taxpayer by renting out his taxpayer funded apartment an indication of how he intends to fund government when he reduces taxes to the wealthy? Would he rent out other government property/equipment?

    Does anyone else find it intriguing/suspicious that Derek claims the maximum of over $1,900.00 a month for a bachelor suite? When I check online a 2 or three bedroom downtown edmonton suite lists for that sum. Is he by chance renting off a friend or family member with some money returning to him?

    Does Derek’s landlord know that he is subletting his suite?

    There are so many questions that could be asked, but as usual Derek does not like being on the receiving end.

  6. Glad to see Climenhaga mentioned the other “bozo-eruption of the day” — Fildebrandt caught double-dipping by leasing out his Edmonton apartment and collecting a housing allowance at the same time.

    He was the Wildrose’s most belligerent and outspoken critic of government largesse as well as the former director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. Now he’s trying to defend this underhanded act of deception and in so doing Fildebrandt just outed himself as a vile hypocrite.

    The fact the Wildrose Party likely knew of the arrangement (this leak apparently came from Brian Jean supporters) puts into question their suitability as a bona fide government-in-waiting. And to make matters worse, no response from Jason Kenney, Brian Jean or the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (who lobbed a nothing burger at the NDP yesterday with claims of hiding transparent financial information regarding the carbon levy admin cost). Nothing but crickets from the soldiers and defenders of the public purse.

  7. It would be a better world if all political office holders aspired to use their position to benefit the public good and not their private interest.

  8. Looks like Derek did have some money after all to sink into his aborted leadership bid……$2500 of revenue from renting out his Gov’t paid Edmonton apartment.

    Character. Integrity. Nowhere in sight with this bumbling fool. Hypocrite extraordinaire! Even his alma mater, the Taxpayers Federation, is calling him on this scam.

  9. What’s more the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s natural ally in these matters, the Canada Revenue Agency should probably take a quick look to see whether the revenue from these rentals has been properly reported. It may well be that it is the 21st Century but income is still income.

  10. These Wildroser’s have an incredible propensity to shoot themselves in the foot. This whole Fildebrandt issue is a comedy of errors.

    First of all he actually considers running for the UCP leadership. Really….perhaps he has smoked too much BC bud. This goes well past being a joke. Laughter

    Then he claims to have decided not to run since there are so many other good people running. Right Derek…we certainly believe that. Thousands would not. Even more laughter.

    Then he says he he will not be supporting anyone but he does not think that Brian Jean would be a good leader. Really…not supporting anyone? Lots of shaking heads. I don’t even think his mother would believe that one. Lots more laughter.

    Now he gets caught pocketing a few bucks by renting out his Gov’t subsidized apt. More laughter? No, not this time. Just people shaking their heads at how they could have been conned by such a mug. It is not even funny that he tried to brush it off as a non event, a politic smear. That is the sad part…that he thinks so little of the members of his own party and so little of Albertans than he thinks this explanation can fly.

    So…..where are the other members of the UCP Party on this. Not hearing a peep from Jason Kenney. Did he not used to work for the Taxpayers Federation? Does silence mean that they are embarassed, that they just want it all to go away (and Fildebrandt as well), or are they OK with this type of behaviour. Just imagine what they would be saying far and wide if Fildebrandt happened to be an NDP member (not that they would have him).

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