It shouldn’t be a surprise, I suppose, that Derek Fildebrandt has publicly gone all Charlton Heston on us.

I speak, of course, of the recently rebranded Freedom Conservative Party leader’s Hestonesque Twitter outburst yesterday in response to talk the federal Liberal government might actually make an election issue out of banning handguns.

Canadian Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair (Photo:

The handgun ban balloon was floated by federal Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair during the Trudeau Government’s cabinet retreat in Sherbrooke, Que. This suggests the Liberals have done some polling and concluded the eminently sensible idea is one on which they could campaign and win in Canada’s big cities if not in rural settings like Mr. Fildebrandt’s Strathmore-Brooks provincial riding.

In addition to being a famous American actor who played both John the Baptist and Ben Hur in his long screen career, Mr. Heston led the National Rifle Association for six years before stepping down and succumbing to Alzheimer’s disease. When he announced his retirement from the NRA in 2003, he famously concluded with a cry of “from my cold dead hands.” Everyone in the room knew what he meant.

Mr. Fildebrandt – a shrewd if not a careful politician, once a rising star in the Wildrose and United Conservative parties before exchanging fire with two leaders, one of whom turned out to be a better shot than he was – didn’t go quite as far as the late NRA president.

But if the Liberals dare to ban handguns, he Tweeted defiantly, “no matter what the feds do, they will never get their hands on mine.”

This set off a predictable Twitter storm over gun control, which no doubt pleased Mr. Fildebrandt, who faces the daunting task of seeking re-election in a rural riding without the support of the well-financed Conservative party he was once part of – having been sent packing a year ago by UCP Leader Jason Kenney after a series of unfortunate events.

The gun debate, of course, is a bore, no pun intended, which works for the advocates of unrestricted U.S. style gun ownership since any reasonable person succumbs to weariness as they go on and on with their fatuous statistics.

Freedom Conservative Party Leader Derek Fildebrandt channeling Charlton Heston in happier times (Photo: Facebook).

What’s interesting to me about Mr. Fildebrandt’s latest outburst, though, is its inconsistency with other things he has said in the past.

After all, it’s perfectly reasonable for a law-abiding gun owner, particularly one who is an elected lawmaker, to strenuously oppose any piece of legislation, no matter how sensible. What is not so reasonable is to vow in advance to defy the law if it’s passed as if the rules simply don’t apply to him, either because he just doesn’t feel like obeying them, or because he doesn’t think they apply to libertarian conservatives.

Mr. Fildebrandt, clearly, doesn’t feel this way about all law breaking.

Last fall, when tout le monde political Alberta was deeply obsessed with pipeline protesters in British Columbia, Mr. Fildebrandt excoriated what he called “a cowardly political elite that is not willing to use the police force necessary to protect private property and the rule of law.”

In an interview with a local news website in Strathmore, he went on to call on Premier Rachel Notley to “use appropriate police force necessary to clear out illegal protesters who are squatting on private land and making a mockery of the rule of law.”

It was not immediately clear how she was supposed to do this, as she is the premier of Alberta and the illegal squatters, since departed, were in British Columbia. But his key point was that, under the rule of law, all citizens must obey the law, or be dealt with accordingly.

Now we see, on a matter dear to his heart or the hearts of his constituents, the rule of law is of no consequence whatsoever. Indeed, he could be said to be advocating making a mockery of the law.

Of course, there is a pattern here. Among the things that got Mr. Fildebrandt in trouble with his former friend Mr. Kenney was his failure to remain at the scene of an accident as required by law and his act of shooting a deer on private land as forbidden by law.

This suggests a lack of concern for the rule of law – except when enforcement of a law is in what Mr. Fildebrandt views as being his interests. It is reasonable, given this evidence, not to take him very seriously.

On the other hand, as has been observed here before, it rather puts him in the mainstream as utopian market fundamentalist ideologues go when it comes to questions of the rule of law – to wit, it’s for you, and not for them.

As for the likelihood of the Liberals actually moving forward on a handgun ban, I am sorry to say I suspect their enthusiasm for this idea will wane once they have been successfully reelected. But if handguns are by some miracle banned, one hopes for his own safety that Mr. Fildebrandt reconsiders his defiance!

It is ironic that the success of the pro-gun lobby in attacking and undermining the so-called long-gun registry really created the political conditions that make it possible to talk now of outright bans.

In the meantime, should he lose to the UCP as expected in the forthcoming spring Alberta provincial election, the renegade MLA will have already auditioned for a local production one of Mr. Heston’s most famous roles, that of Moses leading the Children of Alberta into the wilderness as a candidate for Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada.

After that, I suppose, the former Canadian Taxpayers Federation agitator will have to return to his native Ontario and seek work with a right-wing think tank or Astro-Turf group.

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  1. “…the former Canadian Taxpayers Federation agitator will have to return to his native Ontario…”
    Aww hell no, we’ve got enough crazy pistol packers as it is. Unless you convince him to leave his bullets behind.

  2. What Derek does’t realize, is that such a law would neutralize his handgun even if he didn’t turn it in. He would have to keep it hidden so noone saw it. Who could he trust in politics. He could never take it anywhere : if he was stopped by the cops they might find it. He could not use it to threaten a burglar because although the threat might not lead to a charge his illegal gun would be confiscated anyway.

  3. “Among the things that got Mr. Fildebrandt in trouble with his former friend Mr. Kenney was his failure to remain at the scene of an accident as required by law and his act of shooting a deer on private land as forbidden by law.

    This suggests a lack of concern for the rule of law – except when enforcement of a law is in what Mr. Fildebrandt views as being his interests. It is reasonable, given this evidence, not to take him very seriously.”

    David really is one of my favorite fiction writers in the province because of how seamlessly he can build a big story from facts that, at first glance, seem related and cogent.

    But the idea that laws are worth breaking only if one considers them personally disadvantageous to follow them is somewhat undermined by the two incidents Mr. Climenhaga references:

    If you believe that laws are unjust when they inconvenience you, why did Mister Fildebrandt plead guilty to the improper kill, detail that he had made it inadvertently, and list how he was changing his behavior to ensure that he did not violate the law again.

    With respect to the hit-and-run on a parked vehicle with no occupants, Mister Fildebrandt maintains his innocence.

    I can’t wait until David comes back with an explanation that presumes bad faith of Mr. Fildebrandt harder than he presumes Good Faith with respect to the Notleycrats in response to the perfect storm of structural denial of reproductive freedom and reinforcement of assigned identity happening to Albertan trans women.

    One could be forgiven for wondering why this sexist propagandist who lets trans women die of a queer health crisis of choice instead of writing about how this government ignores the Alberta Human Rights Act when it doesn’t personally benefit their middle-aged, bigoted, credential-class, cisfeminist base to do so… but it will probably be as likely to come as self-reflection at the sneer of an entitled Albertan to a migrant worker to go back to where he came from.

    Mr. Climenhaga, I was born at the Royal Alex, and I’ve lived in Edmonton all but one year of my life, and it’s statements like that that make me ashamed to be an Albertan. Ontarians can become Albertans, and Mr. Fildebrandt, despite his many flaws, is most-definitely an Albertan, and to treat him as a tourist is beneath even you.

    1. While our host did not mention Fildebrandt’s continued protestations of innocence in the driving case or his guilty plea in the hunting charges, he has done so numerous times in the past. There must be a point at which such facts can be considered generally known and acknowledged. In the former case, Fildebrandt was found guilty by a court of law and that should be good enough for the record. As an accused, he had plenty of opportunity to produce witnesses from the meeting he claimed to be attending at the time of the incident and he did not. His claims do not seem credible to me. I’m not sure how a guilty plea suggests he was not guilty. Again, he claims not to have known he was on private land. If he was concerned about the rule of law and not the chase he would have paid attention. As for cisfeminism, I have no thoughts on that matter.

  4. Can we listen up in Alberta? Like some other noteworthy Ontario ex-pats, this guy made and dresses himself up in what he presumed to be your image. He’s yours. Please don’t stop feeding him and find something that will keep him occupied.

  5. Sadly, the federal Liberals don’t have a very good track record on sensible gun control. The initial impetus for the long-gun registry arose out of the aftermath of the École Polytechnique shooting in December 1989, in which 14 women were murdered for no reason except that they were female Engineering students … the end of this year will be the 30th anniversary of that tragic event.

    Amidst calls for stricter gun control in Canada, the Chrétien Liberals eventually created the National Firearms Registry. But its implementation was so bloated and riddled with cost overruns, opposition to the registry extended far beyond the usual suspects in pro-gun nuttery, and it was eventually killed off by the HarperCons as one of their first acts upon winning a majority government in 2011. So now, thanks to Liberal incompetence, we are left with a situation in Canada where we register our motor vehicles, our bikes in many municipalities, our pets in most … but not our firearms if we own them.

    As for handguns, in my view, they have no place in civil society outside of law enforcement and the military. They have no legitimate sporting purpose, being best suited to killing people, not game animals. We should completely denormalize handguns in Canada. I would even go so far as to say that in my view, Canada should abolish shooting sports involving handguns, and no longer participate in handgun shooting sports at international competitions like the Olympics and Commonwealth Games. As for those who say, “if we make handguns illegal, only criminals will have them”, my answer is: if handguns are illegal, where would criminals get them, if they can’t steal them or illegally buy them from legal dealers and owners? (Current data suggest that smuggling over the US-Canada border is no longer the major source of illegal handguns: this has been overtaken by theft and unlawful diversion from legal owners in Canada; Completely ban handguns, and even though criminals may still get their hands on them at first, eventually they will be harder and harder to obtain. Bring in enhanced sentencing for crimes involving firearms: double the maximum time of imprisonment if an illegally-possessed firearm is involved, and implement a national handgun buyback programme—no questions asked—to cull the supply of handguns circulating in society.

  6. It’s a given that Alberta has to respect Canada’s law because our borders aren’t as protected as Canada-USA borders. An Independent Alberta as its own Country may have to respect Canada’s gun laws. It’s an important consideration, but Provinces vary on a lot of laws. But, for a wealthy Country that believes in gaining advanced technology, perhaps tagging handguns owned by Albertan’s with computers or with technology is more towards our futuristic goals then some antiquated politics that’re destined for failure. Mr. Fidebrandt may be as confused as the rest of us about such expensive antiquated gun laws used for a big political pushes as premature. Alberta would be more than willing to enforce strict control on expats in Alberta Country. As why they’d sneak a handgun into Alberta, only extensive psychological testing could give any real answers.

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