'I did not do it': Alberta MLA Derek Fildebrandt testifies in hit-and-run case

Embattled MLA Derek Fildebrandt testified in his own defence in an Edmonton courtroom Wednesday. The independent MLA for Strathmore-Brooks is charged with hit and run after a neighbour said he backed into her vehicle in a condo parking lot and then drove away.

'I'm extremely proficient at driving trucks,' former UCP caucus member tells court

Independent MLA Derek Fildebrandt is on trial in Edmonton traffic court for a hit-and-run incident in June 2016. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio Canada)

Embattled Alberta MLA Derek Fildebrandt summed up his defence Wednesday in an Edmonton courtroom with five simple words: "I did not do it."

The independent MLA for Strathmore-Brooks faces two charges in connection with a hit and run in an Edmonton parking lot in June 2016.

The former United Conservative Party MLA, who resigned from caucus hours after CBC broke the news about the charges, twice took the stand to give testimony.

"I did not do it," said Fildebrandt, who told court his F-150 pickup beeps when he's backing up too close to something.

He also told the court he's a good driver.

"I'm extremely proficient at driving trucks," he said.

Fildebrandt testified he didn't hear a loud bang when he was in his truck that day.

"I surely would have stopped, considering my occupation," he said. "I would have stopped, got out and looked, and left a note under the windshield. It's the decent thing to do."

In February, Fildebrandt's neighbour, Amy Rawlinson, testified that she heard a loud noise outside her downtown Edmonton condo at about 7:45 a.m. on a June morning in 2016.

She said she saw a neighbour walk out to his red Ford F-150 pickup, back into her company van and drive away.

Rawlinson said when she spotted Fildebrandt with his truck the next day, she took down his licence plate number and went to police.

Fildebrandt was charged under Alberta Traffic Safety Act with leaving the scene of an accident and failing to notify the owner of a damaged vehicle.

Application for mistrial

Wednesday's court hearing saw Fildebrandt's lawyer, Dale Fedorchuk, spar with prosecutor Lorna Mackie.

Mackie objected when Fildebrandt referred during testimony to a document he had prepared giving specifications about the size of his truck, calling it hearsay evidence.

Fedorchuk then made an application to Commissioner Stuart Douglas for a mistrial.

After arguments were heard, Douglas said he would need time to make a decision.

Fildebrandt whispered in his lawyer's ear, and Fedorchuk then advised the court he would withdraw the application for a mistrial because his client wanted the matter dealt with expeditiously.

Fildebrandt said he would have left a note

Fildebrandt testified he didn't have any specific recollections of that day but told court it was his usual practice to be at his office for a meeting each day at 7:30 a.m.

"It would have been very much out of the ordinary if I was not there," he said.

After Fildebrandt completed his testimony, his lawyer told court the defence would call no further witnesses.

In his closing arguments, Fedorchuk said there was not enough evidence to convict his client.

Lawyer for Derek Fildebrandt talks about his client's hit-and-run trial

5 years ago
Duration 0:50
Dale Fedorchuk, lawyer for Alberta MLA Derek Fildebrandt, discusses key points in his client's hit-and-run case.
Douglas said he will deliver his decision Dec. 18.

Fildebrandt then sighed and hit his leg with his cellphone.

Outside the courtroom, Fedorchuk said he was satisfied with the way his client handled himself on the stand.

"After Mr Fildebrandt gave his evidence, I had other witnesses I could have called," he said. "I chose not to, because I believe that Mr. Fildebrandt gave his evidence in a very forthright and credible manner and it covered the bases."

Fildebrandt declined to comment.


Nola Keeler is an award-winning journalist who has worked with CBC in Whitehorse, Yukon and Edmonton since 2000. She has worked as a host, reporter, news reader and producer for CBC. Send story ideas to nola.keeler@cbc.ca.