Wexit Canada will be on the ballot for Western Canadian voters in the next federal election
Elections Canada granted eligibility to the Western separatist group on Friday.
Wexit Canada will become an officially registered party once it runs a candidate in the election or any federal byelections, Elections Canada said.
“Our political class has failed us and this is the reaction,” Wexit Canada leader Peter Downing said. “This is the response and this is the natural consequences of poor political representation in Western Canada. Now we’re going to have good political representation.”
The Wexit movement gained traction following October’s federal election, which saw Justin Trudeau’s Liberal’s win a minority government, despite a near-sweep by the Conservative Party of Canada in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Two Facebook pages with the Wexit name gained hundreds of thousands of followers in the hours and days following the federal vote.
“The Conservative Party of Canada has taken Western Canada for granted for far too long, they are not going to win government again,” Downing said.
“Once Albertans, in particular, see that we’re going to be governed by Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party or somebody worse forever, Albertans are going to do the sensible thing and they’re going to vote for their independence.”
According to Downing, the party plans to run 104 candidates; one in each of the federal ridings in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
The party’s main platform piece is to hold referendums on separating the Western provinces from the rest of Canada, but they also plan to fight the carbon tax, bills C-48 and C-69, and barriers to free trade.
“Federally, this is going to potentially take votes away from mostly conservative candidates or the Conservative Party nationally and could diminish the support that they get,” Mount Royal University associate professor of policy studies Lori Williams said.
While Williams isn’t anticipating the group will draw a large percentage of the federal vote, she said the party’s views and proposed policies could shed light on the concerns of many Albertans and Western Canadians.
“If they are suggesting policies that have influence on other parties, then they’ll accomplish a lot of what they want to accomplish without necessarily having to either win seats or ultimately win the argument about remaining or leaving in Canada,” Williams said.
Downing said multiple members of parliament and provincial politicians have reached out to him, but he would not comment on which members he was referring to.
According to Downing, the party will now seek candidates to run in nomination contests across the Prairies and B.C., with details on the nomination process expected to be released at a later date.
The party is also seeking party status provincially in B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta. Downing said the group has more than 2,000 signatures for Elections Alberta’s 9,000-signature requirement to submit an application.
“This is going to be a slingshot and a catapult to help get the other provinces up and running,” Downing said. “It’s obviously the provincial parties that are the only ones that can form government to legislate a referendum on separation.”
According to Williams, Wexit has more potential to make an impact politically at the provincial level with vote-splitting, as well as its vocal opposition to actions taken by the United Conservative Party government and it’s “Fair Deal” plan.
The UCP government formed the panel aimed at consulting Albertans on ways to give the province a bigger voice within confederation, while also increasing more power over provincial jurisdiction.
“Those who genuinely want to leave Alberta, who are frustrated and angry and nothing less will do, this will be the party that they want to go with. But there aren’t many Albertans in that position” Williams said. “They simply want a better deal in confederation, more fairness, more reciprocity within the country of Canada.”