The new interim leader of the Wexit Canada says his party needs to do for the West what the Bloc Quebecois has done for advocating that province’s interests.
In an interview with The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson, former Conservative MP Jay Hill said the sentiment driving western anger and separatism is no longer a protest movement and will not be ignored.
“It has moved well beyond that,” he said.
“The anger is so deep-seated and the frustration with a failed Confederation is so widespread now in western Canada that we are taking this extraordinary step, I believe, to organize federally … and elect members to Parliament similar to what the Bloc Quebecois has done.”
Elections Canada granted the new party eligibility in the next election back in January.
That means it can now run candidates in federal elections, but won’t be considered an official party until it actually does so.
The most recent federal election saw a significant increase in tensions between western provinces and the federal government after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won a minority government.
The Liberals lost all four of their seats in Alberta and were locked out of nearly all seats in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, with even veteran cabinet minister Ralph Goodale losing his seat.
Many factors have been attributed to the spike in western anger: from the oil price crash to a lack of federal prioritization on pipelines and oilsands development, and fears that the move towards green technology will leave natural resource sector works out in the cold.
There’s also cultural factors, including feelings that Albertan and western voices do not get taken seriously around the cabinet table, or that the government cares more about Quebec and the Maritimes.
Equalization payments are a major thorn in the sides of westerners as well, and Hill said he realizes the battle for those advocating western separatism is an uphill one.
“I can tell you, myself and the people that are on this inaugural board are not naive people. We believe in the cause, but we do believe and recognize all the challenges and hurdle,” he said.
“There’s many, many more as well before we ever get to establishing an independent nation.”
Hill also said he doesn’t know yet for what would happen in the event the party were to win enough support in Alberta to push for separation, but not as much in B.C., Saskatchewan or Manitoba.
“I don’t have the answer to that,” but added he would hope people in other provinces would see the benefit of joining Alberta.
“If you look back on Confederation, all the provinces weren’t established at the same time.”