Derek Fildebrandt Allowed Back To Wildrose Party Caucus

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MLA Derek Fildebrandt has been welcomed back to the Wildrose Party caucus. | CP

EDMONTON — An Alberta Wildrose legislature member suspended for an inappropriate comment on social media about Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne is back in the fold.

The Wildrose announced Tuesday that Derek Fildebrandt has agreed to change his conduct on social media and is back effective immediately.

"There is a clear commitment from Derek to address caucus concerns to be accountable for his track record on social media and to take steps to fix it,'' Wildrose leader Brian Jean said in a news release.

"Derek is an important member of our Wildrose team."

"Derek is an important member of our Wildrose team and we all expect him to have a bright future within our organization.''

Fildebrandt, in the same news release, said he looked forward to rejoining the caucus: "We should move forward together as a unified caucus and party behind the leadership of Brian Jean.''

Neither Jean nor Fildebrandt could be reached for an interview.

Party in 'disarray:' Notley

Premier Rachel Notley, speaking to reporters in Calgary, said Fildebrandt's suspension stems from the Wildrose caucus decision last week to embarrass Wynne in the legislature while she was a there as an official guest.

"We see a party that is in a bit of disarray,'' said Notley. She noted Alberta needs Ontario onside to get the Energy East pipeline to take Alberta crude to ports and refineries in New Brunswick.

Fildebrandt's suspension was short but nevertheless roiled party ranks when it was announced just before midnight Friday.

Some riding presidents immediately demanded Fildebrandt be reinstated. Partisans demanded the same on social media.

Outrage spiralled amid reports from Wildrose sources Monday that along with social media changes, Fildebrandt had to give up his high-profile finance critic portfolio and take anger management counselling.

The Wildrose said Tuesday that reports of those other conditions were false.

Suspension was unofficial

The suspension itself was never really a suspension. The legislature office was not informed and Fildebrandt's desk in the chamber was never moved out of the Wildrose benches.

Fildebrandt, 30, is a key player with the Wildrose, sitting on the front bench with Jean.

He is famous for bombastic exchanges and hyperbolic statements in the house that successfully, at times, get under skin of Notley's government.

Heckled Wynne, Notley

Last Thursday, Fildebrandt did so again, excoriating Premier Kathleen Wynne's Ontario government over its high spending and debt while Wynne sat in the gallery.

Fildebrandt heckled Notley as well, demanding that if she is going to invite Wynne, she must also invite Alberta's next-door neighbour, right-of-centre Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.

kathleen wynne rachel notley
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley in Edmonton on Thursday. (Photo: Codie McLachlan/CP)

Wildrose House Leader Nathan Cooper later publicly sent regrets to Wynne. Jean has said he approved of Fildebrandt's questions, but not the tone or heckling.

The Wynne affair led to heated debate on social media last Friday, with some condemning the question and others saying Wynne needed to hear hard truths regardless of political niceties.

One constituent on Fildebrandt's Facebook page applauded his stance and joked about Wynne's sexuality. She is openly gay.

"Proud to have constituents like you!'' Fildebrandt wrote back.

He quickly apologized online for the comment, but was suspended that night anyway.

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