Politics

Will Fildebrandt now be sympathetic to other "flawed" politicians?

Will Fildebrandt now be sympathetic to other "flawed" politicians?

You have to wonder what MLA Derek Fildebrandt thinks of recall legislation now. You have to wonder how he’d react if he was on the receiving end of a legislatively approved movement to have him fired. After the past week of revelations about his real and alleged misdeeds, Fildebrandt would seem to be the ideal candidate for recall — if we had such a law. Keep in mind Fildebrandt has been a big supporter of such a law whereby disgruntled voters in a constituency could sign a petition to have their MLA fired and a byelection held. Here, for example, is what Fildebrandt said in August of 2014 when he was the Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “Citizens deserve the right to hold their elected officials accountable more than once every four years.” Back then, Fildebrandt was taking aim at Alison Redford, who had stepped down as premier but was still an MLA, after a scandal involving her misuse of government aircraft. “Considering how former premier Redford has treated taxpayer’s money with disrespect, yet remains the MLA for Calgary-Elbow, the CTF believes that her constituents deserve the right to recall Redford if they so choose,” said Fildebrandt, who seemed to enjoy playing the role of unforgiving firebrand. Now Fildebrandt is the one under relentless attack from his critics. And his critics seem to be multiplying as fast as the news stories about his questionable conduct — pocketing money by renting out his taxpayer-funded apartment in Edmonton, apparently double dipping on his meal-expense claims, and being charged with hit and run after one of his neighbours alleged he had backed into her parked car with his pickup truck

 
 

Strathmore-Brooks constituency stands by Fildebrandt

Strathmore-Brooks constituency stands by Fildebrandt

Embattled MLA Derek Fildebrandt’s former constituency association is standing behind him following his resignation from the United Conservative Party caucus.  The member for Strathmore-Brooks resigned Tuesday night after a series of controversies unravelled around him, including renting out his taxpayer-funded apartment on Airbnb, double-dipping on meals paid by the public purse, and facing a court date over a vehicle hit-and-run charge.   Ronda Klemmensen, president of the legacy Strathmore-Brooks constituency association, said the entire board stands by Fildebrandt.  Much like Fildebrandt, she blamed the media for his departure from the UCP caucus, calling the multiple controversies surrounding the 31-year-old MLA “distractions.” “We believe in Derek Fildebrandt’s integrity and values, and we are greatly disappointed in the low-level, ridiculous mudslinging taking place through the media,” she said in an emailed statement in the early hours of Wednesday morning. “Derek’s decision to resign from caucus is the right decision at this time for his family, for Strathmore-Brooks constituency, and for Alberta.” Fildebrandt twice took a swipe at the media in his resignation statement, saying stories were “distracting from the work that must be done as the UCP is founded.” He initially called Journal revelations that he rented out his Airbnb apartment a political “smear” over his criticism of former Wildrose leader Brian Jean. It was more than 24 hours before he offered an apology, saying he recognized that the perception of the Airbnb arrangement wasn’t good enough and that he decided to take leave from his finance critic post. “I … have spoken with my constituents, and they are never wrong. I apologize,” he said at the time. Fildebrandt was originally considering running for the leadership of the UCP

 
 

UCP MLA Derek Fildebrandt to be in court on hit and run charge

UCP MLA Derek Fildebrandt to be in court on hit and run charge

United Conservative Party MLA Derek Fildebrandt is facing charges over an alleged hit and run.  It’s the latest in a string of controversies tied to the MLA for Strathmore-Brooks, who is in hot water for renting out his taxpayer-funded apartment on Airbnb and double-claiming meals on the public dime. According to court documents, Fildebrandt is charged with hitting another vehicle on June 6, 2016, and driving away without notifying the owner.  The offence allegedly occurred in Edmonton on 110 Street downtown.  Fildebrandt pleaded not guilty by mail last year. He appeared in court for trial on Feb. 2, which was adjourned until Sept. 6. The UCP is not commenting on the matter.  egraney@postmedia.com twitter.com/EmmaLGraney   

 
 

Alberta Party calls for audit on MLA expenses after double meal-claims surface

Alberta Party calls for audit on MLA expenses after double meal-claims surface

Embattled United Conservative Party MLA Derek Fildebrandt is under fire for double-claiming taxpayer-funded meals. The Speaker’s office is yet to make a call on a full investigation, but is looking into the discrepancy alongside the UCP caucus. “These expense claims are concerning and appear to be part of a larger pattern of behaviour that is unacceptable for a member of the (UCP) caucus,” United Conservative Party interim leader Nathan Cooper said in a statement Monday night.  Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark said the double meal-claims, along with the recent controversy over Fildebrandt renting out his taxpayer-subsidized apartment, proves the need for a full expense audit. “(The Speaker’s office) needs to pick a period of time, say Jan

 
 

Alberta’s history of political expense scandals

Alberta’s history of political expense scandals

Alberta politics is back on the merry-go-round of MLA expense controversies. It’s a ride the province seems to clamber on at least once a decade, this time after the Journal revealed United Conservative Party MLA Derek Fildebrandt was  subletting his taxpayer-subsidized apartment on Airbnb. Let us take you back to 1992. That year, expenses caused outrage after taxpayers ponied up more than $1.3 million to finance living allowances for MLAs, including some who lived less than a 30-minute drive from the legislative building. A handful of cabinet ministers in the then-Progressive Conservative government used the money to make mortgage payments on houses and condos in Edmonton, sold for large profits when they retired.  Then, as now, no receipts were required from MLAs to justify their living allowances.

 
 

Thirty one MLAs claimed maximum accommodation allowance

Thirty one MLAs claimed maximum accommodation allowance

United Conservative Party MLA Derek Fildebrandt  came under fire this week when the Journal revealed he claimed a taxpayer-funded housing allowance from government while renting out his Edmonton apartment on Airbnb. Last year, 45 of 87 Alberta MLAs claimed that same housing allowance, which helps them pay costs associated with hotels or a temporary residence in Edmonton while they’re in the city on official business. MLAs whose permanent home is 60 kilometres or more from the legislature building quality for the allowance , as do representatives who live closer and have worked more than 12 hours on a given day. MLAs qualify for $193 a day when the legislature is sitting, or they’re in town for other duties, or $1,930 a month for those who own or rent a temporary residence in Edmonton. The maximum they can claim is $23,160 a year and, in the 2016-17 year, 31 MLAs claimed the full amount, according to MLA expense disclosures posted online . Fildebrandt was one of the MLAs who claimed the full amount. Although he said he broke no rules by pocketing $2,555 from Airbnb customers who stayed in his downtown Edmonton apartment, he said he has since given the earnings to government

 
 

Thirty one MLAs claimed maximum accommodation allowance for Edmonton stays in 2017-17

Thirty one MLAs claimed maximum accommodation allowance for Edmonton stays in 2017-17

United Conservative Party MLA Derek Fildebrandt  came under fire this week when the Journal revealed he claimed a taxpayer-funded housing allowance from government while renting out his Edmonton apartment on Airbnb. Last year, 45 of 87 Alberta MLAs claimed that same housing allowance, which helps them pay costs associated with hotels or a temporary residence in Edmonton while they’re in the city on official business. MLAs whose permanent home is 60 kilometres or more from the legislature building quality for the allowance , as do representatives who live closer and have worked more than 12 hours on a given day. MLAs qualify for $193 a day when the legislature is sitting, or they’re in town for other duties, or $1,930 a month for those who own or rent a temporary residence in Edmonton. The maximum they can claim is $23,160 a year and, in the 2016-17 year, 31 MLAs claimed the full amount, according to MLA expense disclosures posted online . Fildebrandt was one of the MLAs who claimed the full amount. Although he said he broke no rules by pocketing $2,555 from Airbnb customers who stayed in his downtown Edmonton apartment, he said he has since given the earnings to government. Premier Rachel Notley speaks to the media during a stop at a pipeline stockpile site for Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline replacement project, near Hardisty Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017

 
 

First weeks a roller-coaster for United Conservative Party

First weeks a roller-coaster for United Conservative Party

The new United Conservative Party took a hit from the controversy surrounding one of its most high-profile MLAs this week, and some party members are warning it must ensure there are no long-term repercussions from the case of Derek Fildebrandt. Wildrose and Progressive Conservative members voted to join the UCP only three weeks ago, and initial polls showed the new party likely to win a smashing victory over the NDP government in the next Alberta election in 2019. But the fledgling party this week saw Fildebrandt — one of the most vocal critics of excess spending and entitlement on the opposition benches — sustain significant political damage over the rental of his taxpayer-subsidized apartment on Airbnb. While the Strathmore-Brooks MLA was initially defiant, by the end of the day Thursday terse statements from him and interim UCP Leader Nathan Cooper were issued announcing that Fildebrandt was apologizing and taking a leave of absence from his finance critic post. Pollster and political analyst Janet Brown said the Fildebrandt controversy may or may not have consequences for the UCP in the long run, but it has been the biggest speed bump for the new party during its initial rollout. “It definitely is a short-term setback for the party,” said Brown, noting its effect on the leadership race. “If nothing else, it’s had the impact of getting both Brian Jean and Jason Kenney off message. It totally scuttled Jeff Callaway’s campaign launch. So, even in that superficial way, it’s had an impact.” Jean, the former leader of Wildrose, and Kenney, the former Progressive Conservative leader, are viewed as the front-runners to take the helm of the new party in October’s leadership vote, with Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer also running hard since June. Former Wildrose president Jeff Callaway announced Thursday he would also seek the leadership.

 
 

Proposed city charter gives new powers to Edmonton and Calgary

Proposed city charter gives new powers to Edmonton and Calgary

A proposed city charter released Thursday includes new rules allowing Edmonton and Calgary to put extra taxes on derelict or polluted property, boost fines for serious bylaw offences, and create tribunals to handle parking and transit tickets, among other powers. Alberta’s two largest cities have been working with the province since 2014 to develop a charter allowing them to address issues such as transit, affordable housing and climate change. The draft version now contains 38 regulations aimed at improving services and attracting investment. While most of the proposals are intended to clarify laws or improve efficiency, there are recommendations that would let the cities boost maximum fines for serious bylaw offences to $100,000 from $10,000 and lend residents money for affordable housing projects or energy efficiency upgrades. Other regulations would let them: • Use electronic signs to reduce speed limits on busy roads in bad conditions; require drivers to yield to buses; allow back-in angle parking and make other moves not allowed under the Traffic Safety Act.

 
 

Outspoken MLA steps away from UCP leadership bid

Outspoken MLA steps away from UCP leadership bid

Outspoken MLA Derek Fildebrandt took himself out of the running for the leadership of the United Conservative Party Tuesday but launched a broadside against another candidate, former Wildrose leader Brian Jean. The Strathmore-Brooks MLA had been flirting with a run for the UCP’s top job but at a news conference in Calgary said he will instead push the fledgling party and the candidates running for the top job to adopt libertarian-tinged policies. Fildebrandt, first elected under the Wildrose banner in 2015, said he won’t endorse anyone in the leadership race right now but reaffirmed his comments last month that under no circumstances would he support his former leader, Jean, in the contest. “I’ve had two-and-a-half years to work with him and seen his leadership up close and I’ve got more than enough experience to make a very confident decision that he is not the best man to lead the party and lead Alberta,” he said. “I’ve seen a leadership style that focused more on making the party about a single individual than a greater collective. I want a leader who is going to focus on building a party and building a team and not just promoting themselves and their own personal brand.” While Fildebrandt endorsed Jean for the Wildrose leadership in 2015, the two have had a frosty relationship since taking office. Last year, Fildebrandt was suspended from the Wildrose caucus for what he said was an inadvertent endorsement of a homophobic social media post, although the suspension was quickly reversed. The race for the leadership of the UCP, a vehicle to unite Alberta’s right created last month by the overwhelming vote of members of the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties, is widely viewed as a showdown between Jean and former PC Leader Jason Kenney, with Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer also in the race. Fildebrandt said he decided not to seek the leadership despite being approached by many party members

 
 
 
 

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