Are they done yet?
Has the legislature kicked enough dirt over the political grave of Derek Fildebrandt over some unseemly but not illegal actions?
People overwhelmingly felt that it was inappropriate for Fildebrandt to rent his government subsidized apartment on AirBnB when he was not occupying it. That is fair enough. The hysteric response since though has been one of the most overblown scandals we have seen in years.
Yes, Derek build himself a reputation as a fiscal watchdog and was relentless in his pursuit of politicians that abused the public purse. This indeed made things look much worse when it appeared that Derek was trying to make a few more bucks on top of his already generous salary and legislative allowance. I understand the anger and calling him out on it. It does have to be kept in mind though that while this was a case of poor optics, no rules were broken and his actions didn’t actually cost the taxpayers a dime.
Coupled with some minuscule expense oversights which other MLAs were guilty of as well (still admittedly doesn’t make it right) and a leadership race full of contenders who didn’t want to be seen with even a whiff of potential scandal we saw a perfect storm of condemnation for Fildebrandt over a scandal that is tiny by political standards.
There is no doubt that Fildebrandt should have known better. There is no doubt that he should pay some form of price for his errors. When though will the price be enough (if ever)?
Fildebrandt is now sitting as an independent member and is essentially in political purgatory for an indefinite time. Quite a price for relatively small transgressions.
A committee today formally made a rule against MLAs renting out their apartments. OK easy enough. Do they need to still try to keep the hysterics running?
After making this rather simple rule, they couldn’t resist firing more shots at the already punished and apologetic MLA. Greg Clark of the Alberta Party said: “I guess this may go down in history as the Fildebrandt rule”.
This was Greg Clark’s way of trying to ensure that the political sentence against Fildebrandt is for life. Let’s enshrine it in a rule.
If that is OK, then I contend that we create a “Deborah Drever rule” and the term will be applied every time a member of the legislature tosses out an anti-gay slur.
Drever made her bed when she used an anti-gay slur against Prentice and McIver years ago.
This is fair isn’t it? I mean, yes Drever is young and impetuous (as is Fildebrandt), yes Drever apologized (as did Fildebrandt) and yes Drever was sentenced to sit as an independent MLA for a period of time (as with Fildebrandt).
Is this enough political sentencing for Drever though? Maybe we need to coin a term so that her name is associated with homophobia for the rest of her career. That seems to be acceptable for minor fiscal transgressions so I don’t see why it is overboard for such displays of anti-gay bigotry.
OK, getting back to reality. No, I don’t think Drever should be labelled for life over an error in judgement. Nor should Fildebrandt.
I am looking forward to the end of Derek’s penance as an independent MLA and his resuming his role as a tenacious and effective fiscal critic in the legislature. Fildebrandt is one of the sharpest and most energetic members in the entire legislature. He was an effective crusader for taxpayers before his time in office and was once he got in. It was Derek’s aggressive and effective fiscal critique of leftist officials that built the loathing that so many on the left display towards him.
With the tempering of time and experience, Derek Fildebrandt may turn out to be one of the most effective legislators of our time. It has to be remembered, he is only 31 years old. Think of how he could be with another decade of experience.
The left will never lay off Fildebrandt but the right needs to embrace his return. We don’t get assets in politics like him often and it would be a terrible waste to see his career ended over relatively minor mistakes.
I contend that there will be no MLA who keeps a more squeaky clean personal fiscal record of their actions than Derek Fildebrandt now. He has learned a lesson in the most harsh of ways.
The left wants Derek gone forever from politics. That is quite telling.
The right has to make sure that this doesn’t happen. I hope and look forward to seeing Derek Fildebrandt sitting as an effective and principled UCP MLA again in the future.