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Freedom Conservative Party leader launches new campaign for Alberta separation

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Freedom Conservative Party Leader Derek Fildebrandt, back in his UCP days, filling up extra gas cans to avoid the carbon tax. The next day gas prices went down (Photo: Twitter).

With the announcement of the Freedom Conservative Party's election platform yesterday, leader Derek Fildebrandt appears to have taken Alberta's already bizarre case of Trudeau Derangement Syndrome to a new level!

To do so, Fildebrandt had to execute a rare political triple flip-flop.

Well, desperate times call for desperate measures. If there's ever a move to reanimate the Monty Python troupe, Fildebrandt should have a credible shot at a role. Failing that, though, after the 2019 election season the former Canadian Taxpayers Federation agitator is probably going to have to slink back to his native Ontario just to find work.

In the meantime, the seemingly frantic UCP exile who represents the Strathmore-Brooks Riding in the legislature is apparently trying to build a case for Catalonia along the Cordillera.

The FCP, once upon a time an Alberta separatist fringe party, was briefly rebranded by Fildebrandt as a normal party of the libertarian right in the fashion of Maxime Bernier's People's Party of Canada.

This was soon after UCP Leader Jason Kenney sent Fildebrandt packing for a series of embarrassing political stumbles that included getting caught renting his government-subsidized condo on Airbnb, crashing his truck in the condo's parking lot and taking off without leaving his name, and shooting a deer on someone else's property without permission.

No sooner had Fildebrandt done that than, ensconced in the legislature as the FCP's leader and sole MLA, he decided to jump aboard the flaming Alberta-independence clown car that U.S.-owned Postmedia's failing Alberta newspapers have been promoting lately as a way to undermine Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

You can almost smell the burned rubber from the screeching tires on Fildebrandt's slightly dented Ford pickup truck as he does donuts in the middle of what is now and ever shall be the Trans Canada Highway as it runs right through the middle of his riding.

The FCP's "Equality or Independence" campaign announced in a press release yesterday "calls for major constitutional reform from Ottawa to recognize equal partnership within one year from the time of the next provincial election, and should that fail, hold a referendum on independence in its place."

"The FCP is committed to a strong, free, and sovereign Alberta," the release says elsewhere. "If that is inside or outside confederation, is up to Ottawa." The party's logo appears to be an image of a pigeon flying the coop.

This is pretty bold for a party with one MLA, a very angry young man recently kicked out of the United Conservative Party he was once touted as a credible candidate to lead, who is unlikely to hold an elected office at the end of 2019.

Then again, I guess pretending to be Davy Crockett at the Alamo beats facing up to the fact that your political career is done like Christmas dinner no matter who manages to win the next Alberta provincial election.

There's always the possibility of another screeching reversal, of course. Just yesterday, a new survey by Vancouver-based Research Co. concluded that despite Postmedia's efforts to gin up a national crisis, support for Alberta separatism is barely on the radar.

No surprise there, of course. Regular readers of this blog will already have read it expressed as an opinion. Also unsurprising, one of the groups where independantiste sentiment is a little stronger is among former Wildrose Party voters.

Remember, these results were tabulated before Albertans have actually thought about the costs and benefits of becoming a landlocked independent state with one product on which the rest of the world is in a hurry to reduce its dependence.

Meanwhile, the same day as Fildebrandt was sitting down to write his Albertastan Declaration of Independence, colourful former Wildrose MLA Joe Anglin appeared to be reconsidering his recent musings about running for the FCP.

Back on Oct. 10, the former MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre distributed a news release saying, "convinced of the Freedom Conservative Party's core principles, I have informed the Freedom Conservative Party I will seek the nomination to represent Rimbey-RMH-Sundre as the Freedom Conservative Party candidate in the 2019 election."

But when UCP Executive Director Janet Harrington wrote Anglin yesterday to tell him, reasonably enough under the circumstances, that his membership in the UCP had been revoked, he appeared to change his tune.

"It has come to our attention that you intend to represent another Party seeking to defeat the UCP in the next provincial election," Ms. Harrington wrote. "As such, you do not support the objects of the Association as per section 2.1 of the UPC bylaws. The Code of Conduct Committee will review this revocation within the next 48 hours and you will be advised of their determination on whether to uphold the revocation." Expect them to do so.

Anglin, also a former Alberta Green Party leader and U.S. Marine known for his blunt language, responded in a letter that suggested to this reader he may have some doubts about the FCP.

"I've given some serious thought to the idea" of running for another party, he told Harrington, "but I still haven't made up my mind. You might say I am party-less at the moment."

One interesting aspect of this UCP decision is it suggests that Alberta's long toleration of plural political party participation may be coming to an end now that the NDP has proved you don't have to be a Conservative to get elected here.

David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca

Photo: Twitter

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