EDITORIAL: Fildebrandt's UCP splinter group an unnecessary distraction

Derek Fildebrandt has started the Freedom Conservative Party of Alberta. Leah Hennel/Postmedia

Share Adjust Comment Print

This week saw the creation of yet another new provincial political party – the FCP.

That stands for Freedom Conservative Party of Alberta, but it may as well stand for Fildebrandt Conceit Party. It’s hard to get past the impression that the FCP is only about former UCP MLA Derek Fildebrandt’s bruised ego and his desire to get back at the UCP leadership that pushed him out last summer after a series of scandals.

You might recall that in short succession, Fildebrandt was discovered to have been renting out his taxpayer-provided apartment in Edmonton on a vacation rental site, then pocketing the proceeds. That indiscretion cost him $2,500.

Then he blamed hundreds of dollars in “double-dipped” meal expenses on “administrative errors.” Fildebrandt and other MLAs were accepting per diems to cover their meals AND submitting receipts for reimbursement of the same meals.

Those mini-scandals were followed by convictions for hit-and-run and for shooting a deer on private land without permission.

Perhaps the now-Independent MLA could have overcome those self-inflicted mistakes and been readmitted to the UCP caucus, but leader Jason Kenney pushed the former Canadian Taxpayers Federation spokesperson out permanently claiming Fildebrandt had also not been honest with party leaders about the extent of his legal problems (a claim Fildebrandt denies).

When he was pushed out last August, Fildebrandt said no one MLA should jeopardize the project to unite the right and drive the NDP out of office. “We must put Alberta before our party and before ourselves …”

It certainly hasn’t taken long for Fildebrandt to forget that advice and make this all about him, again.

He may claim the UCP is too “vanilla,” that Alberta’s “unapologetic conservatives, libertarians and patriots” need a party of their own. But the FCP is the answer to a question no one was asking.

It’s WAY too early for splinter groups to divide the vote on the right. The UCP hasn’t even run in a general election yet. It is undefeated in the three by-elections that have been held since it was founded a year ago.

Given that last July, 95 per cent of both Progressive Conservatives and Wildrosers voted to unify their parties, surely voters now deserve at least one chance to see what the United Conservatives have to offer before the right is divided again.

That’s what makes us sure the creation of the FCP is more about Fildebrandt, his hurt feelings and his personal ambitions that it is about helping Alberta.

Alberta needs to be rid of the NDP government of Premier Rachel Notley at the earliest possible opportunity. It’s massive deficits, its destruction of the Alberta Advantage, its scaring away of tens of billions in oil industry investment, it’s cozying up to the federal Liberal government of Justin Trudeau has done massive harm. Nothing, not even Derek Fildebrandt’s desire to get even with the UCP should risk splitting the vote needed to make sure the NDP are defeated.

We’re encouraged that most of the reaction from ordinary conservative to Fildebrandt’s vanity show has been negative. The FCP will, rightly, go nowhere.