A group calling for western separation from Canada has applied for official party status in Saskatchewan.
Interim leader Jake Wall said Wexit Saskatchewan submitted 3,599 signatures from 12 constituencies to register as a party on Friday — nearly 1,100 more than required by Elections Saskatchewan.
The group expects to obtain party status in about three weeks.
Separatist sentiment has been criticized for being unrealistic, particularly without the support of First Nations, which have treaties with the Crown and traditional territory.
Still, Wall said he thinks the group is in the early stages of being taken seriously.
“Everybody thinks that we’re nuts, but that’s okay,” Wall told Global News on Tuesday. “We’re on the cusp of something big.”
He said he’s confident a Wexit Saskatchewan party could win at least one seat in the upcoming provincial election as frustrations with the federal government grow.
“We either have to take a stand or we just bow down to them,” Wall said.
“When you have cancer in your leg, eventually you have to decide if you’re going to cut the leg off and survive or if you’re going to let that cancer grow.”
He pointed to oil and gas sector woes and solidarity railway blockades with some Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs as issues of concern for Wexit Saskatchewan supporters.
If approved for party status, Wall said he hopes to have a candidate run in every riding. He said several people have expressed interest in running, but did not provide an estimate on the number of candidates the group could put forward.
University of Saskatchewan political science professor Joe Garcea said he’d be surprised if Wexit Saskatchewan won a single seat, considering the province’s two-party system.
“There’s just too much ground to make up. They don’t have that much traction electorally,” he said.
“What can happen is they can cause a little bit of a disturbance in the political waters.”
Wexit Saskatchewan could dip into the voter base of the Saskatchewan Party and the provincial NDP, Garcea said.
“I can’t see this party winning a seat in its own right,” he said.
“I think that the other two parties are watching it very carefully to see where it might cost them or where they might benefit from this party running in the next provincial election.”
Premier Scott Moe said he isn’t sweating the potential registration of a separatist party in Saskatchewan.
“With respect to the preparation of any other party … that’s not my job to worry about them. My job is to worry about the party that I’m a part of and the party that I’m a leader of,” Moe told reporters on Monday.
The premier said he hasn’t decided if he’ll move away from the Oct. 26 election date.
If an election is called early, Wall said Wexit Saskatchewan would have to rush to sell memberships and potentially host a leadership convention.