Alberta Politics
Freedom Conservative Party Leader Derek Fildebrandt, still in the UCP Caucus on the last day of 2016, filling up extra gas cans to avoid the carbon tax. Gas prices immediately fell (Photo: Twitter).

Alberta Political Traffic Report: Watch out for flaming clown cars on the right

Posted on December 21, 2018, 2:33 pm
8 mins

With the announcement of the Freedom Conservative Party’s election platform yesterday, leader Derek Fildebrandt appears to have taken Alberta’s already bizarre case of Trudeau Derangement Syndrome to a new level – one that is actually deranged!

To do so, Mr. Fildebrandt had to execute a rare political triple flip-flop.

Former Wildrose MLA and Green Party leader Joe Anglin, who may or may not be contemplating a run for the FCP (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Well, desperate times call for desperate measures. If there’s ever a move to reanimate the Monty Python troupe, Mr. Fildebrandt should have a credible shot at a role. Failing that, though, after the 2019 election season the former Canadian Taxpayers Federation agitator is probably going to have to slink back to his native Ontario just to find work.

In the meantime, the seemingly frantic UCP exile who represents the Strathmore-Brooks Riding in the Legislature is apparently trying to build a case for Catalonia along the Cordillera.

The FCP, once upon a time an Alberta separatist fringe party, was briefly rebranded by Mr. Fildebrandt as a normal party of the libertarian right in the fashion of Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada.

This was soon after UCP Leader Jason Kenney sent Mr. Fildebrandt packing for a series of embarrassing political stumbles that included getting caught renting his government subsidized condo on Airbnb, crashing his truck in the condo’s parking lot and taking off without leaving his name, and shooting a deer on someone else’s property without permission.

United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney, who sent Mr. Fildebrandt packing (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

No sooner had Mr. Fildebrandt done that than, ensconced in the Legislature as the FCP’s leader and sole MLA, he decided to jump aboard the flaming Alberta-independence clown car that U.S.-owned Postmedia’s failing Alberta newspapers have been promoting lately as a way to undermine Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

You can almost smell the burned rubber from the screeching tires on Mr. Fildebrandt’s slightly dented Ford pickup truck as he does donuts in the middle of what is now and ever shall be the Trans Canada Highway as it runs right through the middle of his riding.

The FCP’s “Equality or Independence” campaign announced in a press release yesterday “calls for major constitutional reform from Ottawa to recognize equal partnership within one year from the time of the next provincial election, and should that fail, hold a referendum on independence in its place.”

“The FCP is committed to a strong, free, and sovereign Alberta,” the release says elsewhere. “If that is inside or outside confederation, is up to Ottawa.” The party’s logo appears to be an image of a pigeon flying the coop.

Davy Crockett, U.S. Congressman and Texas revolutionary, and possibly what Mr. Fildebrandt now sees when he looks in the mirror (Image: Wikipedia Commons, from the portrait by Chester Harding).

This is pretty bold for a party with one MLA, a very angry young man recently kicked out of the United Conservative Party he was once touted as a credible candidate to lead, who is unlikely to hold an elected office at the end of 2019.

Then again, I guess pretending to be Davy Crockett at the Alamo beats facing up to the fact your political career done like Christmas dinner no matter who manages to win the next Alberta provincial election.

There’s always the possibility of another screeching reversal, of course. Just yesterday, a new survey by Vancouver-based Research Co. concluded that despite Postmedia’s efforts to gin up a national crisis, support for Alberta separatism is barely on the radar.

No surprise there, of course. Regular readers of this blog will already have read it expressed as an opinion. Also unsurprising, one of the groups where independantiste sentiment is a little stronger is among former Wildrose Party voters.

Remember, these results were tabulated before Albertans have actually thought about the costs and benefits of becoming a landlocked independent state with one product on which the rest of the world is in a hurry to reduce its dependence.

Meanwhile, the same day as Mr. Fildebrandt was sitting down to write his Albertastan Declaration of Independence, colourful former Wildrose MLA Joe Anglin appeared to be reconsidering his recent musings about running for the FCP.

Back on Oct. 10, the former MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre distributed a news release saying, “convinced of the Freedom Conservative Party’s core principles, I have informed the Freedom Conservative Party I will seek the nomination to represent Rimbey-RMH-Sundre as the Freedom Conservative Party candidate in the 2019 election.”

But when UCP Executive Director Janice Harrington wrote Mr. Anglin yesterday to tell him, reasonably enough under the circumstances, that his membership in the UCP had been revoked, he appeared to change his tune.

“It has come to our attention that you intend to represent another Party seeking to defeat the UCP in the next provincial election,” Ms. Harrington wrote. “As such, you do not support the objects of the Association as per section 2.1 of the UPC bylaws. The Code of Conduct Committee will review this revocation within the next 48 hours and you will be advised of their determination on whether to uphold the revocation.” Expect them to do so.

Mr. Anglin, also a former Alberta Green Party leader and U.S. Marine known for his blunt language, responded in a letter that suggested to this reader he may have some doubts about the FCP.

“I’ve given some serious thought to the idea” of running for another party, he told Ms. Harrington, “but I still haven’t made up my mind. You might say I am party-less at the moment.”

One interesting aspect of this UCP decision is it suggests that Alberta’s long toleration of plural political party participation may be coming to an end now that the NDP has proved you don’t have to be a Conservative to get elected here.

CORRECTION: The Executive Director of the United Conservative Party is Janice Harrington, not Janet Harrington as was sloppily originally published here. AlbertaPolitics.ca regrets the error. 

9 Comments to: Alberta Political Traffic Report: Watch out for flaming clown cars on the right

  1. brett

    December 21st, 2018

    I for one am hoping that the good voters of Strathmore re-elect Mr. Fildebrandt.

    Politics can be a serious business. Fortunately Mr. Fildebrandt continues to deliver a steady flow of comic relief. Laughter is good for your health.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      December 21st, 2018

      From my perspective, Mr. Fildebrandt’s candidacy is a win-win. If he wins, I win, because of the wonderful opportunities he presents for mockery. This is the man responsible for my best-read post ever, commenting on his view that the NDP were lying bastards because they kept their promises. If he loses, well, either way in the riding he intends to contest, someone who deserves to lose is likely to lose, a teaching moment for someone. DJC

      Reply
  2. David

    December 21st, 2018

    I am a bit more optimistic about Mr. Filderbrandt’s chances. Yes, he does have a high degree of flakiness, which in normal times voters might find too off putting, but I can think of two fairly recent examples of voters overlooking that – one in a certain large Canadian province and one in a certain very high profile US position. Mr. Fildebrandt for all his flakiness also does have some political talents – he was the shining star of the Wildrose and briefly the UCP also. Now, perhaps that says something about the dearth of political talent in those parties at the time, but none the less I wouldn’t write him off just yet. I am not expecting his party to win many seats, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did make a small political come back.

    I believe the political anger the UCP and Kenney are so eagerly ginning up can come back to bite them. Mr. Kenney is good at organizing, but I never thought strategy was his strongest suit. Once Kenney and the UCP have completely riled up their supporters, it will be easier for those supporters to consider the quasi-separatist Freedom Party. Mr. Kenney will probably not support separatism, after all I believe he still has national political aspirations, so that leaves the field clearer for people like Fildebrandt right now. I agree with the poll conclusion that overall support for separatism hasn’t grown in Alberta and it is certainly no where near a majority, but I am guessing the most riled up people are the 30% or so who might consider it now or in the past.

    Now, 30% is not enough to beat the UCP and not of those sympathetic to separatism will vote for the Freedom Party, but in the next election all Fildebrandt needs to do is win a few targeted seats, his own and maybe enough to become an official party. Because he can go places Kenney can’t, lets fittingly call him the off road political candidate. Kenney in his fancy big blue truck has to stick to the more passable roads.

    Reply
    • Bob Raynard

      December 22nd, 2018

      David, I really like your point about Jason Kenney not supporting separation because of the impact it would have on his federal aspirations. It is another example of what a political contortionist he has to be: he is an Alberta separatist, but he isn’t one. He opposes abortion, but he doesn’t; he will balance the budget but he won’t cut services or raise taxes; he opposes GSAs but he doesn’t. Even your blue truck analogy is brilliant: I assume it has 4 wheel drive, so it could go all sorts of places, but Kenney won’t go there.

      With regards to Derek Fildebrandt’s FCP, I can definitely see a lot of people thinking that their FCP vote would be a harmless way to register their discontent.

      Reply
  3. Scotty on Denman

    December 21st, 2018

    I lived in the province of Quebec a couple of times, Quebec and Montreal, during the heady days of separatism (I was also lying on the couch watching —english— live TV coverage of the Clark government’s loss of parliamentary confidence when my squeeze wondered from the kitchen what I was cheering about; it was the first time I ever heard the expression “Joe who?”—and, I believe, it was impeccably sincere because many Québécois like her were as ignorant of the RoC as it was of La Belle Province). Naturally I’d come to appreciate that Quebec really is like another country, not simply in language, either. Just as naturally I asked what “sovereignty association” was supposed to mean; it sounded to me something like having its cake and eating it, too ( the french connection being completely coincidental).

    But political education about my country (which is how well-wishers called it whenever I departed back to BC, then the land of easy income: “Bon Voyage a ton pays.”) was, as yet, incomplete—as it will probably remain since, at this point in my life, I don’t figure I’ll ever visit the Arctic or East Coast to witness their respective politcs first-hand: I have eventually come to understand that each province is sovereign even as each has rescinded the bare minimum of sovereign authority needed to run a federated state. Thus, I might have also asked mes amis back in those heady days (and, believe me, they really were, not least in Alberta where I’ve also lived from time to time, and during the Quebec separatism days where two Québécois chatting to each other in an Edmonton bar would likely get told to “talk white!”—or else!) why Quebec was demanding what it already had? In the fullness of time I came to realize that a not-inconsiderable minority of Québécois really wanted back most of the sovereignty the province relinquished in order the federated state functions—all except for benefits conferred by confederation with nine other provinces, a demand so hackneyed that, as soon’s Manning stopped inciting self-serving anti-francophone panic on the Prairies, this Independitiste minority became a considerably less, not-inconsiderable minority in Quebec.

    Quebec independence has always existed, ever since the French Crown’s perennial neglect became de facto abandonment of the colony’s rustic Habitants back in the 1740s, but the demographics have obviously changed a great deal in the meantime. It was overtly impotent for much of this time, mustering not much more vocal support than modern separatist movements found in other provinces do, but certainly more than the oft-unrecognized ‘separatist’ movements within many provinces such as Vancouver Island from BC, Labrador from Newfoundland, Acadia from New Brunswick, and the perennially ignored northern portions of provinces that have them (only a couple don’t—and the three Territories don’t count because, of course, they are not sovereign, although the carving of Nunavut out of the old Northwest Territories is a fascinating tale in itself). In my Quebec days (late 70s and early 80s), separatism was supported by an old-guard of Creditistes (french for Socreds) and Conservatives, and an idealistic van-guard of post-“Quiet-Revolution” intellectuals, academics and youth who were largely socialistic. Today attrition has eliminated much of the former, growing up most of the latter, with discontent now more manifest as mostly-federalist, centre-leftists versus far-right, anti-immigrant racists.

    Which hardly makes Quebec as “distinct” as it used to say it wanted to be: the politcal-right everywhere in the West has availed the din of dissatisfaction rising around an increasingly unfair and polluted world to admit bigots of all kinds in order not to be drowned out by the racket. What passes these days as news-journalism focuses on the squeaks of pips present, perhaps more sensationally with snippets of pips past and prognosticated but, probably, presenting them as more weighty than reality supports, much to the satisfaction of La Meute (french for “wolf-pack”) whose cavalcade police had to corral into an underground parkade for its own protection where, handily, it could affect a more favourable photo-shoot while, out of camera-shot, cops were attacking an overwhelming horde of ordinary citizens protesting La Meute’s racist sloganeering for, of all reasons, not first obtaining the necessary permit to assemble like the cowering “wolf-pack” had. Everyone, racist paramilitants, their Surite du Quebec protectors, anti-racist protestors, and news-casters went home enjoying, each in their own way, some degree of self-satisfisaction. But is this what’s become of Quebec separatism? Has it been replaced or has it morphed into the anti-immigrant mainstream now spearheaded by the newly-elected, right-wing Legault government which wants all the benefits of sovereign association, just without the feds interfering by retaining immigration authority instead of relinquishing it to, y’know, La Meute. The reality is that a not-inconsiderable minority of Québécois —which could be, taking electoral turnout into account, an actual majority—is willing to take the time—and to brave police aggression—to protest phoney “separatists” who really just want to single-out people they don’t like for ‘special treatment.’

    Every province, not only Quebec, has such “separatists” either latently or chasing politcal ambulances hopeful of media coverage like so-called “Sons-of-Dead-Norse-God” wankers so helpfully do for the most likely far-right party to win seats in, say, Alberta— or BC’s hitherto barely-known Libertarian Party recently hooking its wagon to the provincial electoral systems Referendum and getting a thousand-fold more recognition than it ever could have otherwise, just like the goofy Vancouver Island Party did in the last BC election, winning no seats but successfully putting the separatist bug in everybody’s ears.

    But the real news, whether or not it gets fully covered, selectively covered—or even covered at all—by MSM, is that ordinary citizens s are remarkably ready to mobilize against, among other things, racism and, yes, when it comes to that, separatism, too.

    Now let me remind The Freedom Con F—K-ups: Alberta, like every other province, is already sovereign—but the tiny bit it relinquishes, like all other provinces, to the feds makes it stronger and probably more free than it might be otherwise.

    So, yeah, if it’s the fact that Alberta’s politcal right is, like everywhere in the Western World, fragmenting factionally that needs to be hidden, you couldn’t use a much worse distraction than separatism: we’ve already seen this before and, despite MSM’s attempts to make it bigger than it really is, most people recognize the tactic for what it is because, frankly, it’s just a stupid idea—perhaps never more so than for Alberta (okay, okay, maybe Saskatchewan or PEI…)

    Keep Alberta sovereign! Hmmm, gotta nice ring to it, don’t you think?

    Reply
  4. ronmac

    December 21st, 2018

    Thanks to a “special connection” I was able to get get my hands on one of Fildebrandt’s upcoming campaign commercials. That bugger is already comparing himself to Moses, leading Alberta out of Ottawa’s tyranical grasp and into the promised land of separation. Outrageous!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqCTq3EeDcY

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      December 21st, 2018

      Brilliant! The best yet. The separated-at-birth resemblance is truly startling. But will the Children of Alberta follow him to Vancouver Island? DJC

      Reply
      • Scotty on Denman

        December 22nd, 2018

        …Almighty!!! Let us pray not! Ferries have been cancelled left and right these days (they say, due to climate warming, unusually high winds)—and the flock might get trampled by the usual, frantic two-way.

        On the Other Hand, he might get a job out here—they’ve been talking about a different kind of crossing for decades…

        Reply
    • Scotty on Denman

      December 22nd, 2018

      Great Gosh…

      Reply

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