Peter Downing is on a tour of Alberta, drumming up support for the province to leave the country.
On Saturday, the founder of Wexit Alberta told people gathered in Calgary that it’s not just a Liberal federal government issue; but the way Confederation is set up that favours the east politically and economically.
“This isn’t just based on sentiment. We’ve been feeling this for a very long time and now it’s time to take control,” Downing said.
The former member of the RCMP and Canadian Forces points to everything from equalization payments to Bill C-69.
His arguments would appear to have some support in Alberta. A recent online survey, conducted by Research Co., shows three in 10 Albertans believe the province would be better off as its own country.
“The Alberta public is willing to see what the separatist movement has to offer them in terms of Alberta-first advocacy and Alberta-first solutions,” Downing said.
Former Harper government cabinet minister Jay Hill was elected as a Reform Party MP back in “the West wants in days.” He was at the Calgary meeting and said people should take the western separatist movement seriously.
“I believe the polls that about 25 per cent of Albertans are supportive of separating as of the moment, but I also agree that it could double easily that number if Justin Trudeau was re-elected on Oct. 21,” Hill said.
Last week, Premier Jason Kenney took to social media, stating: “I don’t think we should allow Justin Trudeau to push us out of our country.”
Pollster Janet Brown says Kenney clearly has his finger on the pulse of the issue and public sentiment.
“He’s trying to affect the fact that the average Albertan wants a better deal with Canada and wants to stay in Canada but feels changes need to be made,” Brown said.
As for the seriousness of western separation, Brown says it’s across the spectrum.
“Some people really think there’s no point negotiating anymore and we need to separate. Some people are talking about separation just to get the federal government to the table. Right now we are in this unique period where frustration has really boiled over,” Brown said.
Downing says he’s willing to give Kenney a chance with getting pipelines built and succeeding with constitutional challenges.
“If Jason Kenney does not deliver what Albertans want, they are going to give us a shot,” Downing said.
READ MORE: Don’t write off Western anger as ‘alienation’ — it runs a whole lot deeper: Calgary professor
The Wexit founder hopes to merge Alberta’s separatist groups into one group and run candidates in upcoming federal and provincial by-elections.
Poll results are based on an online study conducted from July 23 to July 25, 2019, among 700 adults in Alberta. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Watch below (Jan. 10): Mount Royal University professor of communication studies David Taras joins Global News Morning Calgary to discuss the Alberta separatism movement and whether or not it is growing.