Alberta MLA Derek Fildebrandt has been officially kicked out of the United Conservative Party caucus after pleading guilty to a charge related to an illegal deer hunt late last year.
“As elected representatives, we must be expected to show the highest level of integrity,” UCP leader Jason Kenney said in a statement Friday morning.
“MLA Derek Fildebrandt has unfortunately demonstrated a pattern of behaviour that does not meet that standard.”
Fildebrandt appeared in court on Friday morning. He was charged with unlawful possession of wildlife and entering private land without permission. He pleaded guilty to the first charge and the second was withdrawn by the Crown.
The charges were laid after fish and wildlife officers were called on Nov. 4, 2017 about a deer shot on private land without permission from the landowner in a field near Sundre, Alta.
Outside the courthouse Friday, Fildebrandt’s lawyer said his client immediately apologized to the landowners and right from the beginning, acknowledged he made a mistake.
“He was under the impression that they were hunting on Crown land,” Dale Fedorchuk said.
“Earlier that day they had been hunting on Crown land and changed locations. Mr. Fildebrandt said that when he changed his location he didn’t notice any signs indicating that he was now on private property and he most certainly wouldn’t have shot the deer on private property if he had known that was the case.”
Fedorchuk said it’s important to note this is not a Criminal Code offence.
“These are provincial offences that leave no record and I certainly believe that this is the end of… his legal woes.”
In his statement, Kenney said he — along with house leader Jason Nixon and Kenney’s deputy chief of staff — met with Fildebrandt on Nov. 29 and questioned him extensively on whether there were any other outstanding matters they should be aware of before considering Fildebrandt rejoin the UCP caucus.
“We questioned Mr. Fildebrandt extensively for an hour. At no point during that meeting did Mr. Fildebrandt disclose that just 25 days prior he had been charged with the offence which led to his court hearing today.
“I can only conclude that Mr. Fildebrandt deliberately misled us in refusing to disclose this outstanding charge,” Kenney continued.
“I have therefore decided that Mr. Flidebrandt will not be permitted to return to our caucus, a decision supported by our caucus following consultations earlier today.”
Flidebrandt has been involved in a series of controversies and court troubles over the past several months, which led him to step down from the UCP caucus over the summer. He had hoped to return to the party.
Watch below: A closer look at expense claims that led to Derek Fildebrandt’s resignation from the UCP caucus
In December, Fildebrandt was fined $402 after being found guilty of a hit and run back in 2016. Fildebrandt was found to have backed into his neighbour’s van with his red pickup truck near the legislature on the morning of June 6, 2016, before driving away without leaving a note.
Fildebrandt was also found to have been subletting on Airbnb his taxpayer-subsidized accommodation in Edmonton and double-expensing some meals.
Fildebrandt did not speak to reporters outside court on Friday. He walked out of the building, got in a black pickup truck and drove away. He has been ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, along with $2,000 restitution for the offence.
Watch below: Ongoing video coverage of Derek Fildebrandt’s controversies