Alberta Politics
FCP Leader Derek Fildebrandt, back when he was still a member of the UCP Caucus, contemplating some other fine beards in the Alberta Legislature (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

MLA asks Elections Alberta to investigate claim Jason Kenney’s UCP leadership campaign ‘deliberately hid’ donation

Posted on December 28, 2018, 2:11 am
6 mins

“The UCP denies the allegations.”

We should probably get used to reading this phrase. I suspect we’re going to be seeing it quite a lot in stories about Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party during the first half of 2019.

It was included in an Edmonton Journal story yesterday about allegations that in the fall of 2017 Mr. Kenney’s successful UCP leadership campaign “deliberately hid” an in-kind donation that should by law have been reported.

UCP Communications Director Matt Solberg (Photo: New West Public Affairs).

Strathmore Brooks MLA Derek Fildebrandt, a rising star in the UCP’s ranks until Mr. Kenney booted him out of the Opposition party’s caucus earlier this year after a series of political missteps, said in a news release yesterday that he “is asking Elections Alberta to open an investigation into this case and to determine if other such cases occurred during the campaign.”

For its part, the UCP wasn’t actually denying the principal allegation levelled at it by Mr. Fildebrandt, who was chosen as leader in October of the tiny, libertarian-leaning Freedom Conservative Party.

It was explaining it. As in, it was “an honest oversight.”

“There was no deliberate effort to conceal this small amount,” said a statement from UCP Communications Director Matt Solberg quoted by the Journal.

Mr. Fildebrandt’s story – which he backed up with a link to copies of emails, receipts, and online advertisements – is that he hosted an event in Strathmore for Mr. Kenney on Oct. 22, 2017, and he and UCP riding president Ronda Klemmensen paid all the expenses.

Both Fildebrandt and Klemmensen informed Kenney Campaign staffers Blaise Boehmer and Andrew Griffin that they would donate the costs of hosting the event as in-kind campaign contributions,” Mr. Fildebrandt’s news release said.

In phone calls with Kenney campaign staff, Fildebrandt was informed that the expenses would not be recorded as in-kind contributions,” the release continued. (Emphasis added.) The release notes that Alberta election financing laws require all in-kind expenses valued at more than $50 to be recorded and submitted with receipts to Elections Alberta.

A social media advertisement showing Jason Kenney that Derek Fildebrandt says he and a local constituency official paid for (Image: Freedom Conservative Party Website).

“According to Elections Alberta, the Kenney campaign recorded no donations whatsoever from either Fildebrandt or Klemmensen, while the emails released clearly show Fildebrandt submitting invoices for the in-kind donations to the Kenney campaign for their records,” the release said.

“At the time, I supported Jason Kenney’s bid to become Tory leader and gladly made an in-kind donation,” the release said, quoting Mr. Fildebrandt. “I was clear that I did not want reimbursement, but these in-kind donations to the campaign needed to be legally recorded as such to comply with the Elections Act. In repeated phone calls, my request was routinely brushed off.” He said he was told not to worry about it.

As for Mr. Solberg’s point that the sum in question, about $280, was a small one, Mr. Fildebrandt said the failure to report it “raises the strong possibility that campaign activities across the province may have been funded by donations in-kind that were intentionally not recorded as such.”

“The failure to record these donations legally was not an accident or oversite (sic), but clearly intentional and deliberate,” he concluded.

There was a day when a lot of Alberta political observers were persuaded Mr. Fildebrandt’s difficulties with Mr. Kenney were more strategic than real. But that was before the UCP leader publicly humiliated the MLA after he was caught hunting without permission on private property and was fined by a judge after pleading guilty.

Now, it would seem, the breach is real, and deep. Who knows? Perhaps Mr. Fildebrandt might now even reconsider his pledge not to run any FCP candidates in urban ridings where the NDP has a chance of beating the UCP.

In addition to his party duties, Mr. Solberg is a consultant with New West Public Affairs – a Calgary-based research, public relations and political strategy firm founded by his father, former Harper Government cabinet minister Monte Solberg, who was MP for Medicine Hat from 1993 to 2008.

According to the CBC, New West Public Affairs has also worked with the Canada Action Coalition, a federally registered non-profit organization that describes itself on its website as “an entirely volunteer created grassroots movement encouraging Canadians to take action and work together in support of our vital natural resources sector.”

Among the Canada Action Coalition’s campaigns have been organizing a boycott of a cosmetics retailer for a statement critical of oilsands development on its website, demanding the University of Alberta not to give an honorary degree to environmentalist David Suzuki, and organizing public demonstrations including truck rallies calling for pipelines to be built.

4 Comments to: MLA asks Elections Alberta to investigate claim Jason Kenney’s UCP leadership campaign ‘deliberately hid’ donation

  1. Scotty on Denman

    December 28th, 2018

    I’m a Baby-boomer, our cohort an anomaly once about four-fold the demographic norm, pre-geriatric attrition; our adult minders didn’t much fuss about what we were up to, the boomer-attendant inclusivity affording safety in numbers such that whenever, for example, we mustered with rakes, hatchets and shovels and were asked, “where do you boys think you’re going [with all that weaponry],” the concern was mainly that the eight year-olds watch out for younger siblings of five or six years-old, and to make sure the garden tools came home in good repair upon our return from wherever it was we were going—seldom asked about so long’s we weren’t late for supper.

    Ah, the good old days! I’m reminded of these summers of boyhood lately, looking back to the great province of Alberta and its spectacle of struggling conservatism, so apropos—being the world’s oldest polity of studied retrospection— of reminiscences: “Now, boys, don’t be late for dinner and mind your little brothers—and always remember the rattler’s head can still bite, even when it’s cut off…Remember? Okay, now git!”

    Darned if all the snapping and hissing these days between self-styled Alberta conservatives doesn’t vividly bring back those summers of hunting the deadly Massassaga Rattlesnake, of venomous fangs potentially sinking into its own, severed body whilst the rattle rattled independently a little ways off, a favourite pass time of our unquestioning (and little questioned), murderous little troop in the blueberried rocks of Beausoliel Island in Georgian Bay, boys doing what boys (never girls) had always done, for all its tradition a type of conservatism itself.

    Although essentially communitarian the tradition naturally admitted a fairly strict classism: the bigger boys naturally got first dibs on the spoils, usually the rattles—yet, often enough given to one of the smallest taggers-along to play with and show the adults back at home—but the skin almost always reserved for the more dexterous of us, that is, those old enough to have been given a pocket knife for his sixth birthday (pellet-gun by eight and .22 by nine), the patterned hide to be stitched onto a belt. Occasionally we’d go completely indigenous, meaning one of our grandmothers—fullblooded Wyndot or Ukrainian—would fry up the delicious meat. I can almost taste it now like it was yesterday.

    Yes, although we didn’t know it at the time, we were conserving one of boyhood’s traditions. But we differed then, as those of us still alive do today, with the venerable and once-mighty polity of Albertan conservatism in that we didn’t chop ourselves into pieces while our severed head hissed and snapped and pipsqueaks rattled our detached rattle from a safe distance, both at the flayed corpus of our own, nourishing protein. Never. Neither would any of us now, as grown-ups, demand re-enactment of the ecological offences of our childhood, nor take fright of or exception to lurid tales of Water Moccasins and Copperheads invading the remote redoubt of our youth, a long-ago tradition.

    No, now I watch Alberta’s nominal conservatives from a safe distance and reminisce: the empty, clear-scaled, shed skin turned inside out like a dirty sock, the ancient symbol of rejuvenation, its former occupant frying in self-butchered chunks, the Western Rattler demanding its diamonds back through spattering flares over a guttering campfire somewhere out on the range.

    How can this possibly be conservatism?

  2. J.E. Molnar

    December 28th, 2018

    Anyone who follows politics closely in Canada will know that Jason Kenney came to Alberta as advertised.

    There are many that see Kenney as a slippery, political grifter, who more often than not, embraces subterfuge, chicanery and political hijinks (some allegedly illegal) to score knockout points over his beleaguered political opponents. The political entrails of Brian Jean, Derek Fildebrandt and Prab Gill are testament to Kenney’s ruthless, hell-bent determination to win at any and all costs. This megalomaniac is not the person we ever need leading Alberta.

  3. Sam Gunsch

    December 28th, 2018

    ‘By hook or by crook’ ???

    is this an emerging candidate as a possible #KenneyTeam motto? I wouldn’t say this yet, but some might…


    EXCERPT: “By hook or by crook” is an English phrase meaning “by any means necessary”, suggesting that any means possible should be taken to accomplish a goal. The phrase is very old, first recorded in the Middle English Controversial Tracts of John Wyclif in 1380.

    EXCERPT: “In Modern English, the meaning of the phrase is often understood (or, arguably, misunderstood) as to refer more specifically to a willingness to accomplish objectives using unethical and/or illegal (as in “crooked”) means.”

    By hook or by crook – Wikipedia

  4. David

    December 31st, 2018

    It doesn’t sound like an “oversight” to me – more like, we couldn’t be bothered to issue a tax receipt even though we knew we should, but we will conveniently call it an oversight if we get caught and hope the punishment is light, as the amount is small. I suppose the principle is similar if you steal something that is not too expensive, say under $300. The $50 limit has been around as long as I can recall, I expect it was put in place by the PC’s, you know one of the UCP predecessor parties, so they can’t even claim this is an overly zealous NDP regulation, although that is no defense either.

    It is yet another troubling sign – those that can’t be bothered to comply with the law on small things, probably take a dismissive attitude towards complying on bigger things too. I remember for at least a half dozen years Wildrose hammered the PC’s for their indifferent approach to complying with the rules on political donations. It was of a party that thought it was invincible, after governing for too long and a sign of arrogance – they couldn’t even be bothered to comply with the rules they made themselves.

    The PC’s at least had the excuse of being in government too long and being tired. Of course, the voters fixed the problem for them. What is the UCP’s excuse for their lack of respect for electoral rules?


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