Photo: Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt in happier days as he joined Jason Kenney on the eve of his victory in the 2017 PC Party leadership race. (Photo credit: @pcyouthalberta on Twitter)
Derek Fildebrandt is out of the United Conservative Party Caucus for good, according to a statement issued by party leader Jason Kenney last week.
Fildebrandt pleaded guilty in a Didsbury court house last week to illegally shooting a deer on private property and he was fined $3,000.
The former official opposition finance critic was a rising star in Conservative partisan circles until his political career crashed in August 2017 when he was forced to leave the UCP Caucus after a series of embarrassing scandals.
Fildebrandt arrived in Alberta in 2012 to work as a Canadian Taxpayers Federation spokesperson and he was elected to the Legislative Assembly as the Wildrose Party MLA for Strathmore-Brooks in 2015.
As an Independent MLA for Strathmore-Brooks, Fildebrandt now must decide what is next for his political career. A significant redistribution of the electoral boundaries divides his current district into the new Brooks-Medicine Hat, Chestermere-Strathmore and Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills districts.
If he had been allow to rejoin the UCP caucus, he would have faced an uphill battle to win the nomination against popular incumbent Leela Aheer, who currently represents Chestermere-Rockyview and has declared her intentions to seek the UCP nomination in Chesteremere-Strathmore. Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills is currently represented by UCP MLA Nathan Cooper, who is also expected to seek re-election.
Also departing the UCP caucus last Friday afternoon was Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Don MacIntyre, who announced on Twitter that he was “Resigning from politics today to focus on our family.” Mainstream media outlets published a flurry of reports explaining the reason for the MLA’s unexpected departure soon after his announcement, but those stories were quickly removed.
I expect we will learn more about the nature of MacIntyre’s departure soon.
It was also unclear whether MacIntyre, a member of his party’s Rural Crime Task Force and one of his caucus’ fiercest climate change deniers, has just resigned from the UCP Caucus or whether he has also resigned as the MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake. If he has resigned as MLA, a by-election would required to be called in this heavily conservative voting rural central Alberta district by August 2018.
Penhold town councillor and local constituency association co-president Mike Walsh has already registered his intentions to seek the Innisfail-Sylvan Lake UCP nomination for the expected 2019 general election.
Alberta Advantage Party leadership vote on Feb. 24, 2018
They are not even officially registered as a political party, but members of the group calling themselves the Alberta Advantage Party are electing their first permanent leader on Feb. 24, 2018.
Information on the party’s website is vague, but posts on their Facebook page suggest that Marilyn Burns, a co-founder of the Wildrose Party and critic of the UCP, is the only candidate in the race. Burns was a candidate for the leadership of the Alberta Alliance Party in 2005 and was a candidate for that party in Stony Plain in the 2004 election.
Gil Poitras, who served as Chief Financial Officer for the Alberta Party in 2013 and 2014, has been serving as interim leader of the Alberta Advantage Party.
(hat tip to @edwinmundt for bringing this to my attention)