Edmonton

Derek Fildebrandt acclaimed as Freedom Conservative Party leader

Strathmore-Brooks MLA Derek Fildebrandt was acclaimed Saturday as the leader of his new Freedom Conservative Party.

'Today would be a little less anti-climactic if we were actually counting some votes'

Strathmore-Brooks MLA Derek Fildebrandt was acclaimed leader of his new Freedom Conservative Party on Saturday. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Strathmore-Brooks MLA Derek Fildebrandt was acclaimed Saturday as the leader of his new Freedom Conservative Party.

"Believe it or not, I really, really, really wanted someone to run against me," Fildebrandt told supporters at a pub in Calgary.

"I didn't want anyone to beat me. But I thought that today would be a little less anti-climactic if we were actually counting some votes but who am I to disagree with 100 per cent?"

The former Wildrose and UCP MLA formed the party three months ago. He used his acceptance speech to criticize both the NDP — which he claimed was waging an "ideological holy war"  — and the United Conservative Party, which he said had a similar position to the Liberals five years ago.

"The Freedom Conservative Party. You. Me. Our convictions, our beliefs, do not change with time or the wind," he said. "No one will be able to accuse us of having a hidden agenda in the coming election because our agenda will be written in black and white on our platform.

"And we will give Albertans an alternative that fears neither the NDP, the special interest groups nor the media."

Fildebrandt has claimed UCP leader Jason Kenney told him not to run in the newly redrawn constituency of Chestermere-Brooks so MLA Leela Aheer could run there. He vowed the Freedom Conservative Party would do things differently. 

"Women who run for the Freedom Conservative Party will be chosen because their constituents and the members there believe that they are the strongest voice for them in the legislature," he said. "Not just to pose for diversity photos with the leader. Because it's 2018."

Fildebrandt's party has attracted one potential candidate for the 2019 spring election: former Wildrose MLA Joe Anglin wants to run in Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre.

Before starting the party, Fildebrandt sat as an Independent in the legislature after a number of scandals which included the revelation he was renting his taxpayer-subsidized apartment on Airbnb, prompting him to leave the UCP caucus. The embattled MLA repaid more than $2,500 he made on the rentals.

In December, Fildebrandt was fined $400 after he was found guilty in traffic court of hit and run and failing to notify the owner of a damaged truck.

In February, Fildebrandt pleaded guilty to a Fish and Wildlife charge of illegally shooting a deer on private land.

An hour after the conclusion of Fildebrandt's court appearance, Kenney sent a news release stating Fildebrandt would not be allowed to rejoin the caucus because he failed to disclose the Fish and Wildlife charges in a meeting at the end of November.