The Leadership debate has been scheduled and there are two notable names missing from the list of attendees: Derek Fildebrandt and Rachel Notley. I’m sure no one thinks Rachel Notley is afraid of Derek Fildebrandt. 

At the 2015 Leader’s Debate, Premier Notley stood her ground, spit some fire, delivered some burns, and came out of the debate with the aura of a Premier. No, Rachel Notley is not afraid of Derek Fildebrandt. 

Those who have confirmed their attendance to the debate are Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan, Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel and United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney.

David Khan is not only high on his own virtue, but has the confidence usually reserved for someone fielding a full slate of candidates. As a Liberal, David Khan is not courting the same candidates as Fildebrandt and therefore has nothing to fear from meeting Filderandt either in a debate or a dark alley. They would just nod to one another in passing. No, David Khan has nothing to fear from attending a debate with Derek Fildebrandt.

Stephen Mandel is a seasoned speaker and debater both in council and the legislature. Mandel has a platform that is focused on the future of our province, together, and is not really competing with Derek Fildebrandt for support. Their views differ significantly enough that I can confidently say Stephen Mandel is not afraid of debating with Derek Fildebrandt.

But there is another MLA, a leader, so to speak, who would have something to fear from Derek Fildebrandt. 

While Fildebrandt may be full of a lot of huff and puff, he actually does want to blow Kenney’s house down; and Kenney knows it. 

Perhaps it’s not well-known that Kenney has reach. Alberta is full of conservatives who either owe, or want to be owed, a favour.

Perhaps people have forgotten that complaints from Kenney’s friends “encouraged” a Global TV producer to take early retirement. It definitely isn’t well known that Kenney’s friends encouraged a rural reporter to close down his twitter account for daring to have personal criticism of the UCP.

So would it be any stretch of the imagination that Kenney’s friends would try to protect him by ensuring Derek Fildebrandt did not get an invite to the leader’s debate?  

Jason Kenney used Derek Fildebrandt to get the Wildrose on board with unity and dumped him faster than anyone could say United Conservative Party.

Derek doesn’t just want to sit in the legislature in place of the Deputy Leader; Derek has been lying in wait for the little piggies to feel safe in their ultra conservative house of cards. And Derek could blow that house down.

Because if Derek Fildebrandt isn’t invited, Kenney will be the most conservative option beside the NDP, the Liberals and the Alberta Party. But if Derek Fildebrandt is on the stage, Kenney will actually have to work for it. 

And I think Jason Kenney is afraid of the big, bad, bearded, Derek Fildebrandt.

This post is an opinion.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean

Comments? Tips? dmaclean@countersign.ca

Twitter: @Mitchell_AB


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