After guilty plea to illegal hunting, UCP says Fildebrandt won’t be allowed back
Posted Feb 2, 2018 02:43:14 PM.
Last Updated Feb 2, 2018 03:33:16 PM.
This article is more than 5 years old.
Disgraced MLA Derek Fildebrandt will not be allowed back into the UCP caucus, party leader Jason Kenney said in a statement following the former opposition finance critic’s guilty plea to illegal hunting.
After pleading guilty to illegally shooting a deer on private land, Kenney announced in a statement that at the end of November he met with Fildebrandt and other members to discuss him potentially coming back to the UCP.
“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,” Kenney said. “I can only conclude that Mr. Fildebrandt deliberately misled us in refusing to disclose this outstanding charge. Consequently, neither I nor our Caucus can have confidence in the veracity of his undertakings to us.
“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.”
Although Fildebrandt was charged in early November, the story only came to light in mid-December.
Following media reports about the hunting charges, Fildebrandt was found guilty of a June 2016 hit-and run on a vehicle and fined over $400.
He had said that he was likely in a meeting at the time of the incident but didn’t provide any evidence of the meeting and no MLAs backed up his claim.
Fildebrandt was originally removed from caucus for other controversies, including renting out his taxpayer-subsidized apartment on Airbnb, as well as double-dipping on meal expenses.
When asked by a reporter why he didn’t disclose the information to Kenney, Fildebrandt said he didn’t expect to be grilled on everything going on in his life at the time.
But Fildebrandt also responded later on Twitter with: “Revolution devours its own children.”
Fildebrandt will have to pay $3,000 in fines after pleading guilty to unlawful possession of wildlife, as another charge was dropped.
Kenney added in his statement that there would be more rigorous pre-screening for prospective candidates and Fildebrandt will also not be permitted to seek a UCP nomination in the next election.
It isn’t clear why Kenney waited until now to ban Fildebrandt considering the hunting charge came to light in December, but a UCP spokesperson pointed out Kenney consulted with his caucus Friday morning to discuss the decision, which they agreed to.
Mount Royal University political scientist Lori Williams said the reasoning could’ve been to have all the publicity around the dismissal and the charge come out at once.
“Little bit of a cleaner break,” she said. “They chose this to be their approach, and I guess there’s some logic to it, it’s debatable whether it’s the best way to approach it.”
As for Fildebrandt’s future, Williams said she thinks he’ll run out the rest of his term while figuring out life after politics.
“They’re cutting their losses, it’s up to Mr. Fildebrandt to decide whether to run as an independent or not,” she said. “But let’s be honest, from the time that hit-and-run charge came into play, I think most people realized this is the end of Derek Fildebrandt’s political career.”
Read Kenney’s full statement:
“As elected representatives, we must be expected to show the highest level of integrity. MLA Derek Fildebrandt has unfortunately demonstrated a pattern of behavior that does not meet that standard.
Given this pattern of behaviour, on November 29, 2017 myself, House Leader Jason Nixon, and my Deputy Chief of Staff met with Mr. Fildebrandt. The purpose of this meeting was to question Mr. Fildebrandt on whether there were any other outstanding matters of which we should be aware before considering an application from him to rejoin our 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. Consequently, neither I nor our Caucus can have confidence in the veracity of his undertakings to us. 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.
I have also been clear that the United Conservative Party will have a process of rigorous pre-screening for prospective nomination candidates. One element of that pre-screening will be a questionnaire and an interview conducted by the Party. If a prospective nominee deliberately misleads the Party about outstanding legal or ethical issues in the same way thatMr. Fildebrandt misled us about his outstanding legal charges, they will be disqualified automatically from seeking a nomination. We must insist on transparency and honesty to ensure the integrity of our candidate screening process. Consequently, as Party Leader I have decided that Mr. Fildebrandt will not be permitted to seek a United Conservative Party nomination.”