Alberta Politics
Liberty Conservative Derek Fildebrandt, who is about to lead the Freedom Conservative Party of Alberta (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Fildebrandt Agonistes: Hell hath no fury like a ‘Liberty Conservative’ scorned

Posted on July 19, 2018, 1:54 am
8 mins

Hell hath no fury like a “Liberty Conservative” scorned!

Derek Fildebrandt, the former Wildrose Party and United Conservative Party finance critic scorned by UCP Leader Jason Kenney after a series of unfortunate events turned him into him the Lemony Snicket of the Alberta conservative movement, has joined the Freedom Conservative Party.

Chestermere-Rocky View United Conservative Party MLA Leela Aheer (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

The tiny right-wing splinter party that until yesterday almost no one in Alberta had heard of, used to be best known among the province’s political cognoscenti for its Alberta separatist leanings.

This does not mean that Mr. Fildebrandt, who has been named the interim leader of the FCP, endorses Alberta’s separation from Canada, however. On the contrary, Mr. Fildebrandt told me yesterday, “I believe in greater autonomy for Alberta within Canada. I am no separatist.”

However, there might be some grounds for suggesting the Independent Strathmore-Brooks MLA would like to turn his new party into a vehicle for his personal political ambitions. In our short exchange of Twitter direct messages, he described his goal for the party as “a libertarian-conservative coalition” in which “disagreements (are) resolved by free votes.”

And, yes, Mr. Fildebrandt said he intends to run to become the permanent leader of the party.

The party’s most recent name change, on June 22, to the Freedom Conservative Party certainly seems to reflect Mr. Fildebrandt’s personal brand as a self-described Liberty Conservative. “I’ve been working to form this party so I did play a role in the name,” he noted.

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

Blogger Dave Cournoyer, who actually keeps track of this kind of minutiae, has tracked the entity from its beginnings as the Alberta First Party in 1999, to the Separation Party in 2004, back to the Alberta First Party in 2013, to the Western Freedom Party in April this year, and to the Freedom Conservative Party on June 22. Apparently this was all OK with Elections Alberta.

The Political Action Committee fund-raising entity set up last year by Mr. Fildebrandt when he was contemplating his own run for the leadership of the UCP was called “United Liberty.” When he announced the creation of United Liberty a year to the day before the Alberta First Party was changing its name for the second time, Mr. Fildebrandt said in a news release his PAC was “dedicated to supporting the unification of the Wildrose and PC parties and promoting liberty-conservative principles & candidates in the new United Conservative Party.”

Instead of running himself, though, Mr. Fildebrandt threw his support behind Mr. Kenney, the former Harper Era federal cabinet minister, to lead the united provincial right-wing party, a decision he may now regret.

Welcome to Albetra … anyone can make a mistake when they’re in a hurry and there’s always some annoying Dipper around to take a screenshot.

Given the angry tone of his recent Tweets at Mr. Kenney and media commentary about him, it’s hard to believe Mr. Fildebrandt does not view his repudiation by the UCP leader as a deep personal betrayal, notwithstanding the string of political embarrassments that preceded it.

On Twitter and in the public prints, he has excoriated Mr. Kenney for ignoring the party’s so-called “grassroots guarantee,” defended a candidate cashiered by the UCP leader when the man’s Islamophobic views came to light raising the prospects of another major bozo eruption for the UCP, and angrily accused the party of setting quotas to ensure women and members of visible minorities are among its candidates.

“Grassroots conservatives have been lied to & their democratic rights stripped away by backroom party insiders,” he wrote in a Recent Tweet. “Albertans deserve a choice that does not take their vote for granted.” Obviously, the days are long gone when any conservative leader can try to control Mr. Fildebrandt’s social media activities, as Brian Jean, leader of the now defunct Wildrose Party, once tried and failed to do.

Mr. Fildebrandt’s anger with Mr. Kenney is palpable in an interview with a sympathetic Postmedia columnist, in which he says the UCP leader ordered him in his days as a UCP Caucus member not to run against Deputy Leader and Chestermere-Rocky View MLA Leela Aheer in the new Strathmore-Chertermere Riding than includes part of each of their present electoral districts. As Mr. Fildebrandt recounted the story, “When I objected, he said: ‘How would it look if a blond bearded redneck beat one of our only women?’”

In the same interview Mr. Fildebrandt claimed the incident in which he was accused, and found guilty, of hitting a neighbour’s vehicle with his pickup truck and then driving away, “simply didn’t happen. That was a scam.”

Well, Mr. Fildebrandt is unbound now. Liberated, even. He can run against Ms. Aheer in Strathmore-Chestermere if he wishes. He’s very popular among the rural right, as his Twitter feed last night demonstrated. Like Mr. Kenney, he is a former operative of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, and comes to the fray with a deep bag of attention grabbing stunts he learned at the national anti-tax Astro-Turf organization.

So, while his campaign is unlikely to be as well funded as hers will be, he just might win anyway. Even if he doesn’t, he will create a significant distraction that I am sure Mr. Kenney would prefer to do without when he’d rather be concentrating on Premier Rachel Notley and the NDP. For his part, Mr. Fildebrabndt has promised not to run FCP candidates in ridings where the NDP might win.

So this is Alberta politics in the early 21st Century, where the real news is more outlandish than the fake news. You actually couldn’t make this stuff up! No one would believe it.

12 Comments to: Fildebrandt Agonistes: Hell hath no fury like a ‘Liberty Conservative’ scorned

  1. Mohamed Mahdi

    July 19th, 2018

    Derek fildebrandt really does not want to go quietly into the night. The FCP and Derek fildebrandt will be a nuisance for Leela Aheer, the UCP and Kenney from now until May 2019.

    Reply
  2. brett

    July 19th, 2018

    Derek Fildebrandt…just another has been trying to hang on and get some PR. He will probably attract a few other former Wildrose has beens and hangers on. The usual far right types who somehow believe that only they can save Alberta from disaster. Sound familar? Good place for them all under one hat, such as it is.

    I can only hope that the voters in Strathmore see through this ruse. Derek needs a job, some income, and of course some attention. This is what it is really about.

    Reply
  3. Brian Gibbon

    July 19th, 2018

    Perhaps his strategy is to engineer a reverse hostile takeover of the UCP — another tactic he learned from his former ally. His electoral strategy, after all, will only siphon voters away from the UCP.

    Reply
  4. July 19th, 2018

    The outsider said: “Grassroots conservatives have been lied to & their democratic rights stripped away by backroom party insiders. Albertans deserve a choice that does not take their vote for granted.”

    The insider said: “Mr. Fildebrabndt has promised not to run FCP candidates in ridings where the NDP might win.”

    Reply
  5. J.E. Molnar

    July 19th, 2018

    The clown prince of chaos is at it again.

    By creating a new alt-right party, Derek Fildebrandt wants to meld his rattlesnake charm with his penchant for red meat conservative orthodoxy to try and stop the NDP. He unwittingly has just opened the door for Alberta conservatives to once again split the votes and self-destruct. What’s not to like?

    Reply
  6. David

    July 19th, 2018

    Well in a week or so of many things going badly for Kenney, now lets add one more item to the list – Fildebrandt is back and this time he has a posse, albeit it small so far, with him.

    I suppose this should not have been a total surprise and much of it was of Kenney’s own making. Someone of the stature of Fildebrandt was not going to quietly go away like the Calgary MLA Kenney just booted. I am sure a number of former Wildrosers are disappointed about Kenney’s heavy top down style and that the “grassroots guarantee” Kenney earnestly made earlier has now been so casually discarded and forgotten. Fildebrandt could have run for UCP leader, but his deciding not to helped Kenney win and how was he repaid? So much for loyalty too. Yes, many of Fildebrandt’s wounds were self inflicted, but I suspect the ones inflicted by Kenney were most politically damaging.

    It will be interesting to see how this all turns out. I would not underestimate or rule out Fildebrandt, despite all his past pratfalls. He has a libertarian constituency he appeals to more than the more social conservative Kenney. Yes, I think the social conservatives have more money and are much better organized, but if the last Federal Conservative race is an indication, Libertarians appeal to more Albertans than social conservatives. Kenney may have also fueled the mood for a party like the FCP by recently railing so strongly against equalization and the Federal government. Lastly, I think Fildebrandt showed some political wisdom by saying they would only challenge the UCP in constituencies where the NDP was unlikely to win. That makes it much easier to attract the support of say disappointed former Wildrose rural supporters. If Kenney thought he could take their support for granted and fiddle endlessly with nominations, he might be mistaken.

    Reply
  7. Scotty on Denman

    July 19th, 2018

    You Albertans have it all, including some very interesting partisan politics. I suppose the same might be said of BC (which has been described, sometimes by Albertan pundits, as “crazy”) but what we don’t have is the spectacular dissonance between the disintegrated parts of the political right in disarray. I can’t even remember the name of the former Reformer formerly leader of a newly formed Conservative Party of BC—even though Dippers like me once prayed his upstart contestants would split the right-wing vote and deprive the even farther right BC Liberals of power (perhaps taking this for granted, the BC NDP opted to run a foolish and unsuccessful “positive politics” campaign against a one-note, prancing LNG majorette). Whatever comparable schisms exist in BC’s politcal right are currently secreted within the now-opposition BC Liberals. Yet I don’t doubt they are experiencing the same general moribundity as all neo-right-usurped conservative parties—they are simply more experienced at closing ranks of coalesced polities of the neo-liberal-libertarian-a-Con right. Still, their zenith only tarnishes now in retrospect of their fiscal charlatanism and partisan chauvinism.

    Alberta has something extra, though, possibly a perfect Prairie Storm affecting the right in twisted inarticulation. Hence the resurrection of separatist sentiment which, to be perfectly articulate, is always revealed as something every province already accommodates, if in weaselly, (in this case) Prairie-dog whistley words equivalent to Quebec’s “sovereignty association”: if that doesn’t describe ordinary provincial-federal relationships, I don’t know what does.

    Reactionary nervousness on the right is as expected as among turkeys’ fear of the farmer’s wife’s cleaver as she contemplates Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve likened the phenomena of the American Redoubter movement and West European xenophobia to the Albertan situation: Jason Kenney steers the Prairie schooner’s tattered sheets to the remote foothills to circle the lagger and bide the rapturous and vengeful moment of return to power, preaching to the true believers enclosed legends of a Golden Era unjustly deprived, beset now on all sides by extreme leftists (that is, anyone not extreme rightist). His vision must appear doubled, he himself a refugee of the Great HarperCon Thrashing, repaired to the land of the Great High Plains Deflowering and following the time honoured, rutted wagon wheel tracks of Christian and Mormon anarchists who trekked to the SoCon refugium before him which, like separatism, need not be reinvented.

    The bubbling caldron of Alberta’s right is simply fascinating —especially to a boy from politically boring old BC, relatively speaking, of course.

    Reply
  8. Sassy

    July 19th, 2018

    The supporters of Wildrose 2.0, now known as Alberta Advantage Party, must be crying. Fildebrandt and his new(old) party are getting all the media attention while former Wildrosers still haven’t obtained written permission from 7,878 Albertans required for registration as an official Party with Elections Alberta. I suspected the media would be silent on this group because they don’t want contenders to UCP. I don’t see Fildebrandt’s Freedom Conservative Party as a threat, just a little distraction. Now those right-wing voters who are really upset about the top-down versus promised grassroots approach can choose between Alberta Advantage Party and Freedom Conservative Party. This benefits UCP.

    Reply
  9. brett

    July 19th, 2018

    I welcome their entry to the political landscape. They will provide a great deal of entertainment for the politician weary voter. No doubt even the most recent comments about why, when, how, who are enough to cause knowing smirks on the faces of political junkies. Derek Fildebrandt reminds me of the Everready bunny. He just keeps embarrassing himself ad infinitum.

    You cannot say that about some of the other fringe political groups such as the Christian Heritage Party. Even they might do a little better if they injected some entertainment value for us.

    Reply
    • Scotty on Denman

      July 20th, 2018

      Even infamy can’t be argued with if done with successful entertainment value. But then there’s the usual doldrums between elections when ratings sink well below the tub-ring. Thank heaven for the Alberta right! Reeking the mold every day! Bravo!

      Reply
  10. Bob Raynard

    July 20th, 2018

    Thanks for your link to the Post Media columnist, David. When I read your piece I wondered who it was, and immediately excluded Rick Bell because he normally treats Jason Kenney as a deity. I really enjoyed reading Bell’s column visualizing Jason Kenney’s reaction to it as I read. Personally I am looking forward to hearing more of Fildebrandt’s comments about Mr. Kenney. On the other hand, Fildebrandt’s goal of a minority government where his party holds the balance of power is a scenario so scary it ‘Trumps’ my fears of a Jason Kenney government.

    Before we totally write off Fildebrandt’s new endeavour, it might be wise to remember another Alberta right wing fringe party, the Alberta Alliance Party. It lurked harmlessly in the dark corners of the Alberta political scene until it attracted a photogenic leader, gained media support, and became the Wildrose Party. I am not predicting the same thing for the FCP, but I worry about people getting complacent about it. Fildebrand’t message is sure to resonate with a core of UCP supporters that Jason Kenney thought he could take for granted. I wouldn’t be surprised if it wins a couple of seats, especially his own, and I would bet on it if we had proportional representation.

    Reply
  11. Jerrymacgp

    July 20th, 2018

    Let’s all recall how Fildepockets met his political demise. First he rented out is taxpayer-funded apartment on Air b’n’b and pocketed the proceeds. The hypocrisy of this act by a formerly CTF activist was far more significant than the dollar amounts, which were relatively paltry. Then, according to the courts, he left the scene of a fender-bender and failed to report it, which is illegal. These right-wing types are all law & order “lock ‘em up!”, until they break the law themselves.

    Finally, there was the most serious offence, at least from the perspective of the right-wing base: he failed to respect private property when he shot a deer on some farmer’s land without the owner’s permission. He’s lucky Canada doesn’t [yet] have those same “stand your ground” laws that are so popular south of the 49th, or he might have gotten a sudden and lethal case of lead poisoning.

    The most likely outcome is that he will be out of a job after next spring’s election, Canadians being so loath to elect independents. He’ll be a pariah among many right wing lobby groups, given this history, but might end up on radio or something, like Danielle Smith did after the voters fired her.

    Reply

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