Alberta Politics
Strathmore-Brooks MLA Derek Fildebrandt listens to other bearded men in happier times for him (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Elevation of Devin Dreeshen to role of UCP Boy Wonder must be a bitter pill for Derek Fildebrandt

Posted on July 16, 2018, 1:39 am
6 mins

What a bitter pill the elevation of Devin Dreeshen to the role of Boy Wonder of the United Conservative Party must be to Derek Fildebrandt!

The Independent MLA for Strathmore-Brooks, after all, used to be the Boy Wonder of the UCP himself.

United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney in 2017 (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Unless Mr. Fildebrandt can pull off a truly spectacular turnaround, he will soon be an all-but forgotten footnote to Alberta politics, remembered only for a remarkable series of cock-ups that ended with UCP Leader Jason Kenney publicly humiliating him and banishing him forever from the Opposition caucus for the political sin of not telling his leader about a potential embarrassment that was about to become public.

That happened in early February immediately after Mr. Fildebrandt, 32, pleaded guilty to charges related to hunting on private property near the town of Sundre in November 2017.

Successful Innisfail-Sylvan Lake UCP candidate Devin Dreeshen on by-election night last week (Photo: UCP campaign Facebook page).

Already having stepped aside from caucus voluntarily for such other embarrassments as getting caught renting his government-subsidized condo on Airbnb and being found guilty of leaving the scene of a minor accident, Mr. Fildebrandt might have been forgiven and readmitted as he obviously hoped.

After all, not long before he had been considered a potential candidate to lead the UCP and certainly credible cabinet material for some future conservative government.

But after an hour-long grilling by Mr. Kenney and UCP House Leader Jason Nixon on Nov. 29, “at no point during that meeting did Mr. Fildebrandt disclose that just 25 days prior he had been charged with the offence which led to his court hearing today,” Mr. Kenney said in a statement to media on Feb. 2.

“I can only conclude that Mr. Fildebrandt deliberately misled us in refusing to disclose this outstanding charge,” Mr. Kenney said. “I have therefore decided that Mr. Flidebrandt will not be permitted to return to our caucus, a decision supported by our caucus following consultations earlier today.”

So what happened with Mr. Dreeshen, elected Thursday in a by-election for the Innisfail-Sylvan Lake Riding that was left vacant when UCP and former Wildrose MLA Don McIntyre resigned after facing serious criminal charges?

Speaking of bearded men, the author, demonstrating his unique qualification to comment on games of thrones (Photo: Property of David J. Climenhaga, but, obviously, not taken by him).

During the by-election campaign, Mr. Dreeshen, 30, certainly covered up his eight-month role in 2016 campaigning for U.S. President Donald Trump, which is now being touted by Mr. Kenney as somehow being an advantage to Albertans.

But did he fail to disclose it to Mr. Kenney? If so, that must be doubly galling to Mr. Fildebrandt, since it would suggest not all cover-ups are created equal in the eyes of the UCP leader!

Or did Mr. Dreeshen fess up to Mr. Kenney about his adventures in U.S. politics – he had written about them some time ago in the public prints, after all – and, if so, did Mr. Kenney approve, or at least think it was no big deal?

In that case, it does suggest that to Mr. Kenney, shooting a deer on a farmer’s property when you honestly thought you were on Crown land, as appears to have happened in Mr. Fildebrandt’s case, is a far more serious matter than merely campaigning for a U.S. president who makes an enemy of Canada and separates innocent children from their parents!

Or maybe the hunting charges were merely a convenient excuse to sideline an ambitious potential future challenger to Mr. Kenney in a provincial game of thrones, while Mr. Dreeshen is considered sufficiently unthreatening to the Maximum Leader.

Even Prab Gill, the UCP MLA just pushed out of the UCP Caucus, was allowed to resign with a little dignity, unlike Mr. Fildebrandt.

Mr. Fildebrandt is not a particularly sympathetic character, but in these circumstances, it’s hard not to feel a little empathy for the fellow just the same!

It would be worth it for any ambitious young person in politics to remember that history shows the position of young pretender, to a throne or any other seat of leadership, comes with serious risks.

Mr. Fildebrandt can take comfort from the fact that, thanks to the work of generations of courageous “snowflakes” and “social justice warriors,” victims of such purges nowadays are no longer clapped in irons, fed bread and water, or worse, but merely consigned to a future of bitter Tweeting and underemployment.

11 Comments to: Elevation of Devin Dreeshen to role of UCP Boy Wonder must be a bitter pill for Derek Fildebrandt

  1. J.E. Molnar

    July 16th, 2018

    Jason Kenney and his cabal of UCP minions bleed hypocrisy with every turn of the knife into Alberta’s political discourse these days.

    The deep association by Devin Dreeshen with a xenophobic, racist, homophobic, misogynist (and as yet to be determined treasonous) regime such as Trump’s is brushed off as “good for the party.”

    I am old enough to remember when Tzeporah Berman was chastised for simply being a panel member to the Oil Sands Advisory Group, and the oft-denied NDP Leap Manifesto was skewered by raging and unhinged politicians on the right, despite Alberta New Democrats disavowing any part of the document. It would appear with Dreeshen’s nomination — hypocrisy has no bounds in UCPville. This should surprise no one.

    Reply
    • Scotty on Denman

      July 16th, 2018

      BC’s then-NDP-leader-of-the-loyal-opposition John Horgan also disavowed the LEAP Manifesto within hours of its adoption by the national NDP convention (the provincial and federal NDP parties are federated affiliates).

      I’m reminded that the largest measure of sovereignty belongs to the provinces, and that the sovereignty each relinquishes to the federal government is the minimium amount requisite for the functioning of a federated state. The intrusion of federal jurisdiction upon provincial can therefore be contentious and controversial (as we of the two western provinces know perhaps too well). There being no officially constituted body of provincial polities, and the regional representation aspiration of the Senate being sabotaged by the political —instead of constitutionally equal—apportionment seats (including as inducements for colonies and charter territories to confederate), inter-provincial relations proceed in a somewhat ad hoc fashion: First Ministers’ meets, federal party regional (synonymous with provincial in most cases) lieutenants, specific constitutional stipulations in Terms of Union between particular provinces (like trans provincial riverine matters between Alta and Sask), various interprovincial ‘trade and procurement’ agreements and partially untested federal jurisdiction over interprovincial trade and communication, as in, the TMX pipeline vs BC’s claimed right to protect its marine environment from dilbit spills; et cetera. In final analysis, each province stands almost monolithic in its sovereign powers, many claimed federal jurisdictions merely presumed, many untested and many challengeable by provinces, First Nations and—hey!—even foreign trade-deal signatories.

      This dichotomy, which, despite the numerous instruments developed or claimed, cannot—and, perhaps, should not—be unified. It’s also what makes the ‘federated’ design of the NDP problematic, as we’ve seen when sovereign NDP provincial governments tell their supposed co-federate federal brothers and sisters where to stick the LEAP manifesto: provinces are so different, especially in what could be called “sovereign” terms, such a federal infringement upon sovereign provincial resource development simply cannot align the interests of the two kinds of sovereignty, the intestinal provincial one, and the cosmetically ostentatious federal one.

      The apparent familial NDP spats, BC NDP versus Alberta NDP, and both versus the federal NDP, isn’t so much about this particular party as symptomatic or exemplary of our entire federal habits. Others include, naturally, sovereign parochialism, geopolitics (especially landlocked geopolitics), as-yet unrealized Aboriginal Rights, Titles and treaties, provincial investor-protection deals with foreign interests, the incompletion of confederation (over a quarter of Canada is not confederated), constitutional handcuffs precluding Senate reform and bucketsfull of Common Law precedents, particular and largely independent of each other, available to challenge presumed federal jurisdictions over interior, sovereign, provincial jurisdiction.

      Reply
  2. Jerrymacgp

    July 16th, 2018

    So, in that “speaking of bearded men”picture, is that Edward VIII or George V behind you?

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      July 16th, 2018

      George V. DJC

      Reply
      • Scotty on Denman

        July 16th, 2018

        No Russian or German cousins, by any chance?

        Reply
      • Simon Renouf

        July 16th, 2018

        And there I was thinking it was a unicorn . . .

        Reply
  3. brett

    July 16th, 2018

    It can happen in an instant when a candidate displays his or her real ‘colours’

    Just look at Chris Alexander or Kelly Leitch. It only took one announcement and their political careers were over. Just to make certain, Chris Alexander decided to remain standing on the podium, smiling like a Cheshire cat, as the crowd was chanting ‘lock her up’ in reference to Rachael Notley.

    Why do intelligent people who are desirous of a career in politics do, say, or write such stupid things. In Alberta you only have to look at the demise, fortunate as it was, of the Wildrose Party to see how quickly this can occur. As fast as fire burning on a lake!

    Reply
  4. Lars

    July 16th, 2018

    Mr. Fildebrandt is not a particularly sympathetic character, but in these circumstances, it’s hard not to feel a little empathy for the fellow just the same!

    Actually, David, it’s very easy not to feel any empathy for Derek Fildebrandt. Very easy. And the nice part about it is, you incur no moral penalty.

    Reply
  5. pogo

    July 16th, 2018

    In the interests of royalty everywhere, I must say that our host looks far more like the last CZAR than he does the last King (roll with it David, it’s a you look thin joke)! Having said that? The site sucks! I’m still, I guess a substandard contributor, and the world must revolve around a bubble of frogs, set to boil! Site does sucks dead goats though! Tell Bill that my grade four teacher says I should consider ritalin! https://youtu.be/hAEiCA8dN_8

    Reply
  6. Pogo

    July 16th, 2018

    I really don’t care if you got your favourite niece to build this debacle! For heaven sakes! Wake up!

    Reply
  7. David

    July 16th, 2018

    Perhaps Derek can hope beards make a big come back in politics. For whatever reason, I don’t think they have ever been that popular in Canadian politics. Prime Minister Mackenzie Bowell had one (I think in the 1890’s) and he was apparently not one our more illustrious PM’s, although I would say he at least looked quite distinguished. I suppose George V didn’t have to worry too much about pleasing voters, he was heir to the family firm after all, but the beard did make him look even more imperial and imposing so it suited his stature.

    I doubt the UCP will shed more light on who knew what when on Dreeshen’s Trump campaign involvement. However, I get the feeling he didn’t keep it a big secret, as it wasn’t too long ago Trump was admired by a number of Canadian Conservatives. In any event, I suspect it will go into the black hole of UCP secrecy, just like the recent Calgary nomination shenanigans.

    Apparently its not good to keep secrets from the Dear Leader Jason, but I suppose in Dreeshen’s defense perhaps he is only at strike one now as opposed to well past strike three like Fildebrandt. I also don’t think Dreeshen comes across as overly ambitious as Fildebrandt did. He looks harmless in that picture – sort of reminds me of a young Stephen Harper. Well on second thought, perhaps Kenney should watch out for this one! Its always the ones you don’t expect that do you in – just ask Preston Manning.

    Reply

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