PHOTOS: Once and future United Conservative Party MLA Derek Fildebrandt in a favoured pose. Below: Mr. Fildebrandt, nowadays the Independent MLA for Strathmore-Brooks, with UCP leader Jason Kenney. Both photos were grabbed from social media.

Just when we thought it would never be safe to go into a farmer’s field with a high-powered rifle ever again, it starts to sound as if United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney may be willing to forgive Derek Fildebrandt and invite him back aboard the UCP Mother Ship.

I base this on a report published by the Calgary Herald, which is the closest thing the UCP has to its own Alberta-grown version of Pravda.

Exactly like stories in Pravda – which means “Truth” in Russian, and back in the bad old days of the Soviet Union was the name of the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party – reports are seldom completely straightforward. Usually, you have to read between the lines to get a sense of what’s actually going on.

So the story that says Mr. Kenney “wouldn’t discuss” Mr. Fildebrandt’s fate goes on to quote him discussing it at considerable length.

The discussion took the form of Mr. Kenney saying his party’s once (and future?) Strathmore-Brooks MLA, who was found guilty of hit-and-run charges in Edmonton Traffic Court on Monday, couldn’t possibly rejoin the UCP Caucus until “he’s resolved any outstanding issues.”

Those outstanding issues, the uncommunicative Mr. Kenney went on to guardedly communicate, include “another legal issue” the UCP’s former finance co-critic must deal with.

My, my, aren’t these Conservatives circumspect when it comes to dealing with their own!

The legal issue Mr. Kenney referred to and obviously would prefer not to say aloud, goes back to Mr. Fildebrandt’s hunting adventure near Sundre on Nov. 4. The MLA faces two charges, unlawful possession of wildlife and entering onto private land without permission, after being busted hunting on private property. He is scheduled to appear in Provincial Court in Didsbury on Feb. 2. Mr. Fildebrandt has indicated he intends to plead guilty.

The hit-and-run charge and the illegal hunting charges occurred in addition to Mr. Fildebrandt’s political problems, which stemmed from the fact he was caught renting out his taxpayer subsidized Edmonton condo on Airbnb last August while claiming his MLA’s housing allowance. In that case, as they say, no laws were broken. But the resulting brouhaha became the proximate reason for Mr. Fildebrandt’s voluntary expulsion from the UCP Caucus.

“I don’t see us dealing with any prospective admission,” Mr. Kenney told the Herald’s reporter, “until all of that’s been dealt with.” (Emphasis added.)

Which, if you ask me, is as good as a statement of intent that the UCP will welcome Mr. Fildebrandt back as soon as Mr. Kenney has concluded he can get away with it – subject to the usual caveats, of course, about anything you read in Pravda, which officially ceased publication in Russia in 1996, and other publications not dissimilar in nature.

Speaking of which, according to the Calgary Herald report, Mr. Fildebrandt was “found guilty in relation to a hit and run” (emphasis added again), a formulation one seldom sees in daily newspaper court reporting.

Does this mean the Herald doesn’t think that Mr. Fildebrandt is actually guilty? Is it a subtle suggestion the court got it wrong when it didn’t accept the MLA’s claim he couldn’t have hit his neighbour’s car in the condo’s parking lot because he was at a Wildrose Party Caucus meeting at the time? Or perhaps it’s a reference to his lawyer’s reported thought that Mr. Fildebrandt may have bumped the car with his giant truck so softly he didn’t notice. (This, as I observed earlier in a comment-section discussion of my own experience in such matters, is always possible in a large and manly truck like Mr. Fildebrandt’s big red Ford pickup.)

The Herald’s view of Mr. Kenney himself and anything he does is certainly clear enough and does little to disabuse readers of the uncomfortable sense the once-reputable publication has become a house organ for the UCP.

The UCP leader ended his conversation with the Herald’s reporter by observing that it “was not a question for the United Conservative Party” whether Mr. Fildebrandt should run again in Strathmore-Brooks in 2019 or whenever the next Alberta general election takes place.

It will become one, however, should the Opposition party permit him to rejoin its Legislative caucus.

That said, recent history clearly indicates that having pleaded guilty to being illegally in possession of the carcass of a deer shot on private land and thereafter been fined for the offence is no impediment to membership in the UCP Caucus.

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  1. I wonder if Lauren Harper would refer to Derek Fildebrandt hunting on private land as being the result of him compensating for having a small penis? Personally I feel it is as a result of a lack of morality which is easier to envision than any part of Derek’s package.

    1. Loon: I think Mr. Fildenrandt is probably safe from Ms. Harper’s uncomplimentary masculinity measurement speculation. He shot a deer, after all. Who cares about horned mammals? Certainly not Ms. Harper. Her issue appears to be with people who shoot large cats. I wonder what Stephen thinks? DJC

  2. I really wish you would cut Derek some slack, as a “Liberty Conservative” it is his job to expose gov’t waste, law breakers, and private property violations. It appears the only way for him to draw attention to these is to experience them for himself. Remember he has no real world experience having been on the gov’t payroll or working for the Canadian taxpayers federation most of his adult life. Resume filler, experience with the criminal justice system check, experience with property law check, experience with government waste check. His only real violation is getting a Liberal red pickup truck all the cool kids went with blue. Perhaps next Kenney will “take a wife” to experience traditional conservative family values, it worked for Harper.

  3. Interesting take on the Kenney interview. I came away with the opposite view: that JK sounds quite irritated by DF’s latest goof and is sending an oblique warning to knock it off if he wants back in. And according to a post in the Calgary Herald’s James Woods’ twitter feed, DF’s riding is going to be split in two and he’ll have to face an open nomination meeting wherever he decides to run.

    What does DF bring to the table now that JK is leader of a united party? Answer: great big nothing. And I’m willing to bet that the rest of the formerly Wild Rose caucus doesn’t miss him and the formerly PC caucus never wanted him in the first place. DF is dead-man-walking, and he might actually be starting to figure that out himself.

    1. I think you might be right, Magda. Derek Fildebrandt still has enough supporters that Jason Kenney does not want the political flak that would come with announcing that he is not going to allow him back into the party. Thus when asked if he will accept Fildebrandt back, Kenney needed a non-answer, and ‘we will consider his application later’ seemed to work as answering the question without actually saying anything. An HR guy once told me he would consider my application back in 1977 – I guess he is still considering it.

  4. Excellent job finding that Jason Nixon story! Law and order conservatives are too often huge hypocrites.

  5. You might have thought those that now run the Calgary Herald might have learned something from the polling debacle in the civic election, in which they published questionable polls that showed the more conservative candidate with a significant lead over Nenshi only to get egg on their face when the result went the other way. Their credibility has been diminished and now it seems they want to destroy what is left of it by becoming a cheer leader for Kenney.

    I suppose the Pravda comparison is apt – people didn’t read it to see the truth in print, but more to discern it how the political elite felt about various things – by what was not said, said and how it was said. Likewise, the interview with Kenney gives us a window into his thinking and the thinking of his conservative elite backers. Until now, I would have thought Fildebrandt’s political career was deader than the deer he shot, but in this article Father Kenney cautiously but clearly points out the path to political redemption for Fildebrandt. Basically it is wait until all the court finishes dealing with the outstanding matters and as soon after that when the public is distracted by something else, we’ll quietly sneak you back in.

    I don’t see why Kenney would hold Fildebrandt in such high regard, if it was Harper he would kick the bozo to the curb for good. I really don’t think there is a kinder more gentle side to Kenney, so there must be some other reason. Yes, Fildebrandt was helpful in saying critical things at the right moments to help dislodge Brian Jean and pave the way for Kenney to take over, but for that a thank you card with some heartfelt warm words would suffice. I think Kenney is concerned the non social conservatives might be nervous about him, perhaps some are about to bolt and he needs to reassure them and that is a crowd Fildebrandt plays to much better than Kenney, despite his flaws.

    I really wonder about how politically wise bringing back Fildebrandt is, but I expect Kenney has done his political calculations and has decided he needs him. He probably hopes to keep a firm enough hand on things to prevent more bozo eruptions from Fildebrandt. As for the past, I suspect Kenney is hoping – to paraphrase a well known American political figure “I could shoot a deer in the middle of a farmers field without permission and no body in Alberta would care”. I suppose we will soon see if that is the case.

    1. Actually, JK said that DF can apply to be readmitted to the caucus. So it won’t be automatic. And there would be no “quietly” about it. There would be a lot of media attention.

      DF served JK’s purpose in one way: he showed that Brian Jean was a weak leader because he couldn’t control his top idiot caucus member. (And he was a weak leader: I’m not at all a Brian Jean fan.) But that’s over with now, and DF is a liability to someone whipping a new caucus into shape. In perpetual exile, he’s also a cautionary warning to other bozos not to take their places and nominations for granted.

      Serious question: JK is ruthlessly ambitious to be premier; why on earth would he WANT DF underfoot?

      1. Why did Wildrose want him in the first place? If Kenney really doesn’t want him he could have given a different answer, something like “it is unlikely given everything that happened that we would readmit him”. Oh the bozo will have to commit to behave in the future and I expect Kenney will be very clear to him about that, but it was obviously Jean that Fildebrandt had problems with never Kenney. He was helpful to Kenney in the past and Kenney probably expects that he will be helpful in the future, despite his tarnished image.

  6. Thanks for the very interesting Olds/Sundre news link. So, in 2011 Jason Nixon is fined for possession of a deer shot illegally on private property near Sundre. Now his buddy, Fildebrandt, is caught in the same act, also near Sundre. Unbelievable that two right wing, private property-advocate MLAs could make the same stupid mistake.

    I think Fildebrandt knows where some skeletons are hidden and, if rejected from returning to the UCP caucus, cannot be trusted to remain silent. Fildebrandt is not the type to take a hit for the party’s greater good; he will take down as many with him as he can. It’s that huge ego. Many of us have come across a disruptive, incompetent person in the work force who remains in management through numerous employee resignations, or downsizing, or change of leadership, and yet he/she is never turfed. These ‘untouchables’ know too much and the bosses are scared.

    1. Dear Sassy: Not sure it is a stupid mistake. DF has certainly offended most farmers and ranchers by his apparent disrespect for the private property of others. However these shenanigans are really a message from DF and the UCP that private property rights for rural landowners are not a priority for them. This goes over very well with the energy sector and its denizens who they actually represent.

      That is why DF and others play “dress up” with the cowboy hats, mountain-man beards, and a 1960s TV show rifle. They think Roy Rogers is a documentary about prairie history and want others to think so too.

      This also reflects the reality of energy regulation in Alberta where the Alberta Energy Regulator, the Surface Rights Board, and the various other state actors are wholly captured by big business. They do not even recognize the concept of private property rights for farmers and ranchers, and hold in contempt those who do.

  7. My personal opinion as I said before is the Derek is done, nothing said in this article changes that opinion. What this article does show me is that the NDP is going to continue with the personal attacks to deflect from the real issues. In Friday’s Calgary Herald in the business section is an article titled “Alberta government authorizes $37 billion in borrowing, says it’s part of the financial plan”. This consists of $32 billion of borrowing laid out in the 2017-2018 budget for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 fiscal years, plus $5 billion to create a cash reserve if needed. Now it must be the new math because the NDP talks about a $10 billion dollar deficit yet it requires $16 billion per year in borrowing! Doesn’t add up does it! So yes NDP supporters will continue with the personal attacks rather than addressing the real problems that we are going to be paying for, for many years to come! Enjoy your day

    1. Farmer B: great attempt at deflecting from the issue of property rights and how the UCP does not respect those any more than their patrons in the energy industry do.

      A question for you is: are you mixing borrowing for operations with borrowing for capital development? Why are you ignoring the fact that about 30% of any borrowing spent on salary and wages is going to come back to the Alberta Government in the form of income tax on salaries and wages? Looked at that way, the operational deficit is not quite so bad.

      A good question for the NDP is why haven’t they hiked the corporate tax rate so they can harvest more of those borrowings back from the businesses doing all that (capital) infrastructure work?

      1. Kang, the NDP reports their deficit as $10.3 billion yet they are borrowing $16 billion, it is all debt. Why pretend you are borrowing less? It all has to be payed back whether it is operational debt or capital spending debt, do you not agree?

        As for corporate taxes. The NDP raised the rate 20% from 10% to 12%. Due to the economic downturn they brought in less revenue after the increase. If you look at the budget the government receives just under $4 billion in revenue from corporate taxes. With a $16 billion dollar yearly debt what rate of corporate tax do you propose? Do you seriously believe a corporate tax increase could eliminate the deficit?

        1. Farmer B: Total debt and payback are not quite the fearful issues the UCP would like us to believe. As most know, there is a basic distinction between a capital cost and an operating cost. Capital costs are one-time or infrequent expenditures which are paid back over time on assets you need (like a farm tractor or a hospital). Operational costs are ongoing annual expenses (like diesel fuel or nurses salaries). There is nothing wrong with being in debt for useful capital items while it is not a good idea to be too far in debt for operational costs.

          However, operational costs like wages and salaries are different for governments (to some extent the same is true of capital borrowing). Every April government reaches into the peoples’ pockets and removes about 30% of the money they paid people over the year. The remaining 70% becomes taxable income for others from which the government also extracts taxes. So while it is not prudent to run an operational deficit, for a government it is almost never fatal as it can be for individuals.

          Ditto for government payments made to corporations to build capital assets like roads or hospitals. For this reason most jurisdictions have corporate tax rates much higher than Alberta and Canada with good results.

          Happy boxing day, and remember to buy Canadian.

          1. “Most jurisdictions have corporate tax rates much higher than Alberta and Canada”. Let’s test your theory, now obviously I can’t list all corporate taxes so I picked a few popular countries. USA, was 35%, now 21%. Germany 29.92%, Canada 27%, Norway 24%, Denmark 22%, Sweden 22%, and Finland 20%. Canada at 27% is for Alberta, varies somewhat across the country. I would totally disagree that most countries have higher corporate taxes than Canada.

            You also did not address whether you thought our debt in Alberta could be erased by raising corporate taxes I assume that is because you know it is not possible!

          2. With David’s indulgence I will respond again to Farmer Brian: The important point is debt and deficits do not affect governments in the same way as they affect individuals. The UCP and other deficit warriors are simply trying to scare you with stories about “shooting the hippo.”

            You do understand that the lowering of corporate tax rates leads to misallocation of capital resources to financial instruments? This problem is characterized as “financilization” in the literature. In spite of Mr. Trump, the cure is higher corporate taxes to give them an incentive to invest in productive capital assets.

            Most corporations are hostage to the resources they exploit, so there is also room to take more taxes from them. We could also insist on taking a substantial equity position in the fossil fuel sector as Norway has done successfully.

            However, if your numbers for the Nordic countries are accurate, what does that say about the preposterous dereliction of duty in Canada and Alberta by the Cons/UCP and Liberals? It tells me they have gone over the edge from mistaken to destructive. The Nordic countries have very generous cradle to grave welfare states and social well being we can only dream of.

  8. IMHO, Derek Fildebrandt is ‘all mouth and no trousers’ as they say. Worse than that….he has become a bit of a joke. Surely the death knell of any politician is when he or she becomes a joke in the eyes of the voters.

    An empty suit whose primary goal is to stay on the public payroll notwithstanding how little value he brings to the position. Talk is cheap…..the cost of an MLA’s salary, housing allowance, and expense account.

    His actions speak volumes to his character. That is the real issue, not whether the UCP should re-admit him to the party. It will be a poor reflection of the party if Kenney decides to forgive and forget.

    I think the UCP, and the Strathmore Constituency Assoc. can do much, much better than this.

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