It is said that Jason Kenney is a shrewd politician but recently he made a mistake that might prove fatal.
We didn’t catch it at first, what with Kenney going into whack-a-mole mode smacking down one bozo eruption after another, however Kenney’s mistake became clear when he dismissed Derek Fildebrandt’s announcement that he’d created a second conservative party in Alberta, the Freedom Conservative Party (FCP), which would go head-to-head with the UCP in any ridings where the NDP didn’t stand a chance.
Fildebrandt has had a bad boy reputation since he set foot in the Alberta legislature. He was an abrasive Wildrose MLA who thought nothing of going after Wildrose leader Brian Jean. He was loyal to Jason Kenney throughout the UCP leadership race but was kicked to the curb when his lack of judgment caught up with him.
Kenney forced Fildebrandt out of the UCP caucus and he became an Independent after he was caught renting out his government-subsidized condo on Airbnb and double dipping on meal expenses. Things came to a head when he was found guilty in traffic court of leaving the scene after backing his vehicle into another car and killing a deer on private property without the owner’s permission.
Kenney said as a result of Fildebrandt’s “pattern of poor judgment and unethical conduct” he would not be allowed to rejoin the UCP caucus or run for the party in the upcoming election.
Fildebrandt says he would have been content to run as an independent but for the UCP’s top-down meddling in the nomination process which he says “is happening across the province, in many constituencies, some of which have broken into the news, many of which have not”.
Bozo eruptions or top-down meddling
The bozo eruptions are coming fast and furious.
The UCP says the bozos acted inappropriately and don’t deserve to be on the ballot. The bozos say the UCP is manipulating the nomination process to clear the way for women and minority candidates.
- The UCP removing David Campbell from the ballot after MLA Leela Aheer applied for a restraining order to protect herself from the man she found terrifying. Campbell, a former Wildroser, said the UCP manipulated the nomination process to clear the way for Aheer to win.
- Todd Beasley who was pulled from the ballot because of his Islamophobic Facebook rants. Beasley said he’s not a racist and the UCP is manipulating the nomination process.
- Prab Gill, a sitting MLA, who resigned following an independent investigation into allegations of ballot-stuffing at his nomination meeting. Gill disagreed with the investigator’s findings but agreed to abide by them.
Fildebrandt is using Kenney’s crack down on bozo eruptions as proof of top-down meddling.
He promises the FCP will be a real grass roots democratic party where party members “hold the pen on policy” and MLA candidates will be selected by constituents, not backroom party insiders from the “old Tory establishment”.
Is the FCP for real?
Kenney dismissed the Freedom Conservative Party as “political vehicle designed to gratify a discredited MLA’s ego”.
This is a serious mistake because a tiny rump party with a handful of seats can lead the government around by the nose if the governing party fails to win a majority.
Look at the BC NDP government’s alliance with the BC Green Party.
BC, like Alberta, has 87 ridings. The BC Liberals needed 44 seats for a majority. They got 43. The BC NDP got 41 seats and Andrew Weaver’s Green Party got three. Those three seats allow the Greens to control the NDP government. There’s nothing like the threat of a no confidence vote to encourage cooperation.
Alberta will go into an election in the spring of 2019. The UCP will do well but not as well as they expect (NDP support is growing, even in Calgary). If the UCP win, it’s possible they will form a minority government. If they form a minority government and the FCP win a handful of seats, the UCP will have to appease the FCP to stay in power. And this puts Fildebrandt in the catbird seat—he will hold Kenney’s future in the palm of his hand.
It would be a mistake for Kenney to ignore Fildebrandt and the FCP.
It would be an even greater mistake for progressive Albertans to pull back their support of the NDP because they think the FCP will split the conservative vote, allowing the NDP to win.
While it would be be entertaining to watch Kenney and Fildebrandt fight over the steering wheel, the damage a Kenney/Fildebrandt government would do to Alberta as it ricochets through the next four years would be heart breaking.