Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt ‘surprised’ by suspension

Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt says he was “surprised” by his suspension that followed a reply he made to a homophobic comment about Premier Kathleen Wynne on his Facebook page.

“I receive on average of 800 comments on my public Facebook page daily and I do my best to respond personally. As I’ve already stated publicly, I did not read a comment posted to my page by a constituent as carefully as I should have. If anyone felt that I shared those sentiments, I do not, and I apologize,” Fildebrandt wrote Saturday.

The post referred to openly gay Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne as ‘Mr. Wynne or whatever the hell she identifies as,’ praising Fildebrandt for his treatment of Wynne during her visit to Canada Legislature Thursday. Fildebrandt replied to the original post commending the man’s comments, saying he was “proud to have constituents like you.”

Fildebrandt was promptly suspended by Wildrose leader Brian Jean, who has been known to take a hard stance on hateful speech in Wildrose ranks, including firing candidate Bill Jarvis after his comments about “brown people”

“My colleagues know that those views do not reflect my own opinion and they recognize that I made an honest mistake, so I was surprised by this decision. I accept this decision,” said Fildebrandt, who has since had members of the LGBTQ community come to his defence on social media.

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean announced the suspension late Friday.

“This evening, Mr. Fildebrandt made an unacceptable comment on social media that does not represent the values of the Wildrose Caucus. He has been suspended immediately.”

The online fiasco followed a raucous display in legislature on Friday when Wildrose members, including Fildebrandt himself, criticized and yelled over the Ontario Premier during question period.

Wildrose spokesperson Vitor Marciano said that the party will not comment on the incident until Monday. Wildrose MLA Drew Barnes posted on his Facebook page Saturday, calling for more respect to be shown in the party.

“I will continue to work diligently to ensure the level of decorum and respect in the Legislature matches the high level Canadans expect,” he wrote.

Speaking at the Liberal Convention in Winnipeg on Saturday, Wynne referred to the “homophobic” comments as a sign that LGBTQ rights still have a long way to go in Canada.

“We have to understand that, yes we’ve come a long way, we’ve come a hugely long way in Canada, but we’re not there, we’re not there in terms of every child in every schoolyard feeling safe, feeling included.”

Wynne later said she accepted Fildebrandt’s apology, but expressed concern about the tone of the criticism.

“Yes, I accept the apology,” Wynne said during a session on women in politics at the federal Liberal party’s national convention.

“But, you know, I think it was an interesting confluence of things. There’s a woman premier in Canada, I’m there as a woman, we’re talking about climate change.

“And I think the attack, the viciousness of the attack, had a particular quality to it. So, I will just say we need to pay attention to that.”




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