Paula Simons: Colony of Unrequited Schemes: Derek Fildebrandt launches party for patriots

Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, said the great English wordsmith Samuel Johnson.

Which brings us to the case of Alberta’s rogue and roguish MLA, Derek Fildebrandt.

On Friday, Fildebrandt held a news conference in Calgary to introduce himself as the new interim leader of the Freedom Conservative Party of Alberta.

“I would describe us as an Alberta patriot party, or autonomous party,” Fildebrandt told the Calgary press.

Fildebrandt, you may recall, started his career in the Alberta legislature three years ago as a Wildrose MLA for Strathmore-Brooks.

After a very public falling-out with Wildrose leader Brian Jean, Fildebrandt pushed hard to force Jean out and to merge the Wildrosers with the Progressive Conservatives, under the leadership of Jason Kenney.

In due course, the parties merged and Kenney ousted Jean.

Score one for Fildebrandt. Until, that is, Kenney turned around and ousted him after an embarrassing series of what you might call scandalettes, embarrassing incidents which, taken together, gave Kenney the necessary excuse to bounce his MLA right out of the United Conservative Party caucus.

Fildebrandt has spent the last 11 months sitting as an independent. During that time he redeemed some of his tarnished political reputation. When the UCP MLAs fled from the legislative chamber en masse, rather than debate the NDP’s plan to establish bubble zones around abortion clinics, Fildebrandt stayed in the assembly and engaged in thoughtful discussion. It looked as though he were actually enjoying the independence that being caucus-free had given him.

But this week, Fildebrandt was back with a vengeance, denouncing the UCP as a “vanilla” political option, denouncing Kenney as a betrayer of the grassroots, vowing to make his new party the voice of free and patriotic Albertans.

And what is a “patriotic” Albertan?

“I would define an Alberta patriot as someone who has a strong sense of Alberta’s identity and who believes in a strong and equal place for Alberta in Confederation,” Fildebrandt told reporters.

Well, so far, so good. By that logic, I’m an Alberta patriot, too.

Then his answer got more peculiar.

“Right now, Alberta is treated as a colony in Confederation. Every single province in Confederation except for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba negotiated their way into Confederation as previously-established colonies, before becoming provinces. Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba were just created by the federal government as colonies and that has created many institutional barriers against Alberta,” he said.

Fildebrandt blamed our colonial start for our relatively small number of Senate seats and claimed …read more

Source:: Edmonton Journal – Politics


Democratic Centrists See a ‘Silent Majority’ Ready to Rebuild

Rep. Jim Himes is so confident that Democrats will recapture the House of Representatives in the fall elections that he’s wearing a tie with tiny blue waves on it.

But sitting at a high-top bar table in Columbus, Ohio, recently, the chairman of the 68-member New Democrat Coalition fretted that his party could still blow its chance by veering too far to the Left in reaction to President Donald Trump.

The latest irritant for him: a proposal to scrap Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency which is at the center of Trump’s most controversial border policies.

“It harms us in areas where we need to win,” says Himes, the chairman of the 68-member New Democrat Coalition. “To my progressive friends who got excited about Abolish ICE, I understand the emotions, the moral vacuum that is involved in splitting up families. But when you go out there and say, ‘This is who we are,’ you’ve now made life harder for the 60 or 70 Democrats fighting in districts where we need to win if we every want to be in the majority.”

“Abolishing ICE is not a real political proposal,” he adds with pique.

A Harvard- and Oxford-educated former Goldman Sachs banker-turned-Congressman from Connecticut, Himes was in Columbus for three days of formal seminars and impromptu conversations with other middle-of-the-road pragmatists.

Much of the talk at the Opportunity 2020 conference revolved around fears that Democrats might embrace too strongly an agenda pushed by those like Sen. Bernie Sanders, the independent from Vermont who sought the Democratic nomination in 2016, hurting them among the more conservative districts and states they need to win to retake power in Washington.

“The party is not going to go in the direction of Sanders-style socialism, because it’s not winning on the issues and it doesn’t win politically except in a very, very limited number of places,” Third Way President Jonathan Cowan told TIME between strategy sessions. “It’s going to go in the direction that won it two presidencies — the last two, two-term Democratic presidents were mainstream Democrats — and what is going to get the House back.”

Democrats need to net 23 seats this November. History and polling alike say it’s possible; the party that controls the White House tends to have a dismal showing in the first midterm elections. The most recent campaign finance reports show Democratic challengers in 56 districts out-raised Republican incumbents.

Despite these good signs, party insiders like …read more

Source:: Time – Politics