Derek Fildebrandt says Jason Kenney ‘omitted some facts’ in statement barring him from UCP caucus
Derek Fildebrandt alleges the United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney “omitted some facts” when he released a statement to the public claiming the embattled MLA would not be allowed back into the caucus. But on Wednesday, in a statement Kenney said he is standing by his decision.
In a conversation with 770 CHQR’s Rob Breakenridge, Fildebrandt acknowledged that Kenney was put in a tight spot because of his convictions for a traffic violation and hunting offence, and for another controversy that had arisen in 2017 when Fildebrandt claimed accommodation allowances while renting out his downtown Edmonton apartment on Airbnb.
But he said some information from his meeting with Kenney was held back.
LISTEN: Derek Fildebrandt talks to Rob Breakenridge after being barred from rejoining the UCP caucus
Fildebrandt said he was told in a meeting with Kenney that the redrawing of electoral boundaries would move his home into the constituency of Chestermere-Rocky View MLA, Leela Aheer.
He said he was told “in no uncertain terms” if he wanted to rejoin the caucus, he couldn’t seek the nomination in the new constituency of Chestermere-Strathmore, which he said is where he has some of his strongest support.
“The UCP does need to reach out to have more female candidates, especially in electable constituencies,” Fildebrandt said.
“But I didn’t and I still don’t believe that the right way to do that is to deprive the local members of the right to select their own candidate through any kind of backroom machinations.”
WATCH BELOW: MLA Derek Fildebrandt won’t return to UCP caucus after pleading guilty to illegal hunting
On Wednesday, Kenney issued a second statement that said he had made it clear Fildebrandt would need the support of the UCP caucus to be re-admitted as a member and that “such support was unlikely if it was his intention to challenge an incumbent caucus member.”
“We made it clear that if Derek wanted to seek re-admission without making an undertaking not to challenge a colleague, that he could do so, as long as there were no outstanding ethical or legal issues that could bring embarrassment to him or the party,” the statement read.
“We now know that he had been charged with poaching just three weeks prior, and had an outstanding court date. He clearly misled us about these charges,” Kenney added.
Kenney added that this, in addition to a “pattern of bad judgment, is what led to Fildebrandt being barred from re-entering caucus.
Fildebrandt alleged that he had been quizzed about a “long laundry list of any… and every rumour” during the meeting and said he answered honestly. He said he had forgotten to mention the hunting offence at the time because he was “in stunned silence” over the previous conversation about electoral boundaries.
He also alleged that Alberta Justice had “inappropriately leaked” the information about his hunting offence to the media before he was able to correct this mistake and report it to Kenney.
“It’s pretty much unprecedented that an administrative, non-criminal offense gets leaked to the media before it’s had a chance to have first appearance,” he said.
In a statement, Alberta Justice said when a charge is laid, the information or ticket is submitted to the court and “is publically available through the court.”
“We do not have any information to suggest that what is being alleged actually happened.”
Fildebrandt said he was told of the party’s decision to cut ties with him while waiting in line to pay the fine from the hunting offence. He said he was “disappointed and surprised by the decision.”
“I can sympathize that it’s a difficult position, but I also don’t think that you should just cut out members of your team when they run into trouble,” he said.
“You define loyalty and teamwork by how you react when someone’s in trouble.”
WATCH BELOW: A closer look at expense claims that led to Derek Fildebrandt’s resignation from the UCP caucus
Fildebrandt said he’s concerned with the direction the party is headed, especially after his meeting with Kenney.
“I wish everyone in the UCP the best, but I’m certainly troubled by some of these signs about what it means for grassroots democracy in the party.”
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