Less than a week after the United Conservative Party’s former young star MLA launched the Freedom Conservative Party, Derek Fildebrandt has been recognized as an elected member of that party by the Speaker of the Alberta Legislative Assembly, a development one political analyst says could have ramifications on a key event ahead of next year’s provincial election.
“It may sound mundane, but it raises the very interesting question come the election about whether he gets to be invited to the leaders debate,” Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Calgary’s Mount Royal University, told Global News on Thursday night.
“Today is another step forward for our new party as we build towards providing a grassroots, aggressively conservative, and Alberta-first option for Albertans who live in the parts of our province where the NDP have no chance of winning,” Fildebrandt said in a news release on Thursday.
Watch below: A new party headed up by a familiar face is aiming not just at the NDP, but the United Conservative Party as well. Tom Vernon filed this report in July 2018.
Fildebrandt has said his primary goal is to bring down Rachel Notley’s NDP government but that he hopes to see a minority government in which his party works with the UCP in order to govern.
“We’ve just gone through through a party merger with the PCs and the Wildrose, now he wants to play the splinter party that will have some sort of working relationship with the UCP,” Bratt said. “It seems a bit bizarre in that respect.
“And the idea that he’s only running in rural Alberta, it’s because that’s where the conservatives win. Apparently there are no Alberta patriots that live in Calgary or Edmonton or even Lethbridge.”
Bratt said he believes Fildebrandt has two main reasons why he’s become a Freedom Conservative rather than stay an independent.
“I think ego is clearly at the top of that list,” he said. “He has always been very ambitious, he challenged (former Wildrose Party leader) Brian Jean’s leadership, now he’s upset with Jason Kenney.
“The other is that there’s always been sort of this far-right political element for decades in this province. Even during the PC dynasty, people were voting… (for these parties) and sometimes they won.”
Fildebrandt was kicked out of the UCP by party leader Jason Kenney in the wake of the Strathmore-Brooks MLA’s expense scandal and after he was convicted in a hit and run and for shooting a deer on private property.
Fildebrandt has suggested his exit from the party came after a disagreement over party strategy in light of new electoral boundaries.
Watch below: After MLA Derek Fildebrandt pleaded guilty to a wildlife charge, the political repercussions were swift. Lauren Pullen filed this report on early 2018.
Alberta’s next provincial election is expected to take place in the spring of 2019.