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Politics

New political party seeks to have Alberta separate from Canada

Dave Bjorkman (front left), Virginia Bruneau (front right) and other members of the Alberta Independence Party are pictured at a media event outside the Alberta legislature on March 20, 2019.
Dave Bjorkman (front left), Virginia Bruneau (front right) and other members of the Alberta Independence Party are pictured at a media event outside the Alberta legislature on March 20, 2019. Cam Cook/ Global News

Some political parties occasionally have a difficult time trying to find a way to stand out from the other, but that does not appear that it will be a problem for the new Alberta Independence Party.

The organization, which became an official party on Wednesday, has a platform of secession and wants to see Alberta split off from the rest of Canada.

“We have 46 MLA candidates,” says party leader Dave Bjorkman about the current election. “It’s always been the right time for Alberta to separate. It absolutely has to be done now.

“We’ve taken too much abuse from Ottawa.”

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READ MORE: Canadians in the west, more than those in the east, say Ottawa does not treat them fairly

WATCH BELOW: (From January 2019) A poll finds the majority of Western Canadians feel Ottawa doesn’t treat them fairly

Poll: Ottawa doesn’t treat Western Canadians fairly
Poll: Ottawa doesn’t treat Western Canadians fairly

The Alberta Independence Party’s platform takes a strong stance against equalization payments to Ottawa and also against the carbon tax.

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Bjorkman says if his party forms a government, anyone making less than $45,000 would not have to pay any personal income tax and his party would ensure Alberta has the lowest corporate tax rate in North America.

Bjorkman says even if his party doesn’t keep pace with the province’s main parties in polls, he’s not deterred.

“I’m not going to go with the polls,” he says. “I’m going with the people of Alberta.

“Honestly… for every two UCP supporters, you get one NDP, you get two door-slams and five adamant Albertans — doesn’t matter race, sex, creed, colour — they want separation.”

Bjorkman’s claims may have some merit. Back in December and January, Vancouver-based Angus Reid Institute conducted a series of polls that looked at the West’s place in Confederation.

READ MORE: A Western Canada party once worked to win a place in Ottawa. Today, voters might back another

One of the polls found nearly three out of four Canadians who live west of Ontario don’t feel the feds treat their province fairly, and that the feeling has grown worse in recent years.

So much so that were another prospective “Western Canada Party” (like the former Reform Party) to start up in the coming federal election, it would have a stronger chance at drawing votes in every western province save for Manitoba — although the margin wasn’t very wide in one place.

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WATCH BELOW: (From February 2019) Western alienation is on the rise in Canada again, according to a poll

Poll: Western alienation growing again
Poll: Western alienation growing again

Bjorkman says his party has consulted with First Nations on the issue of secession.

“We want to give the First Nations self-government,” he says. “We met with all 49 First Nations in Alberta… and we’ve given them a presentation.

“You can’t separate an Alberta… without First Nations. First People, we want to give them freedom too. Freedom of oppression from Ottawa.”

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READ MORE: How, when, where to vote

Virginia Bruneau is the party’s First Nations director. She says she believes First Nations people want to have their fair share of the benefits of Canada’s resource economy and resents Canada’s history of putting Indigenous people on reserves, resulting in a “hand-to-mouth” mentality.

“Born and raised here in Alberta… I just have a passion for my First Nations people,” she says. “First Nations people have been put under too long. When they went to sign the treaties way back when, the First Nations people were not listened to…they were told one thing and given another as far as their land was concerned.

“We have to stand up for our First Nations people,” Bruneau says. “[We need to ensure] that they have an equal and fair say about the economy in Canada and around the world.”

READ MORE: How Global News is covering Alberta election 2019