Western separatist party WEXIT Canada has just published a new Mission Statement on Facebook.
This follows the appointment in June of the Hon. Jay Hill as Interim Leader of the Party.
The original WEXIT constitution was subsequently removed from the party website. It had zealously declared, “Alberta is a sovereign republic, and has no subordination or obligation to the British Monarchy, Government of Canada, or United Nations.” The platform included “Universal Declaration of Independence from Canada and secession from the British Commonwealth, establishment of an Alberta Constitution…”
The new Mission Statement represents a significant softening of the original hard-core separatist mandate, “To achieve independence and a brighter future for western Canadians through constitutional reformation, or by the creation of an independent nation.” In one sentence it seems, the door is opened to working within the framework of the Constitution of Canada. Separation is now only one option.
This more moderate position is crafty politics. A recent poll by Abacus Data showed that only 13% of Canadians would vote for separation, with support being highest in Alberta at 25%. The same poll showed that 75% of Albertans feel that the province has been treated unfairly by the rest of Canada. With low support for separation, and high feelings of dissatisfaction, the new Mission Statement is likely to be more palatable to westerners who want change without leaving Canada.
WEXIT has also released a list of eight Guiding Principals. The first states, “We believe that every vote in the House of Commons by our MP’s must be put to one simple test: Is our support, or opposition, good for the West and our citizens?”
This may pose a dilemma for WEXIT winners in the next election when swearing in; as it quite obviously conflicts with the oath of allegiance to the Sovereign, requiring that a Member pledge to conduct him or herself in the best interests of the country (as a whole). The wording of the Oath is clear; “I, (Member’s name), do swear, that I will be faithful and bear true Allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second.” On the other hand, while the Oath doesn’t reconcile with a separatist agenda, it evidently wasn’t a problem for the thirty-two Bloc Quebecoise Members now sitting.
Guiding Principal No. 3 echoes familiar language from La Belle Province, “We believe the distinct culture and work ethic of the West must be honoured and preserved while striving to evolve and improve. We are proud of our heritage and will not attempt to rewrite history.” Of course, western heritage is pretty much comprised of indigenous peoples, European and Canadian fur traders, followed by immigrants from Britain, Canada and Europe. Not unlike the rest of Canada. Quebec of course…does actually have a distinct heritage and culture. Except for the cowboy hats, there is little culture shock for most Canadians stepping off of an Air Canada A-319 from Ottawa at Calgary International.
WEXIT is looking ahead to the next election. They have already committed to running 104 candidates, one in every federal riding in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In the interim, they will also compete in every western federal byelection.
With the upcoming departure of Andrew Scheer as Leader, despite winning 6.15 million votes in the last election (the second largest vote count of any previous Conservative Party leader behind Brian Mulroney’s 1984 landslide win with 6.2 million), the Conservative Party will no longer have a western leader. Maritimer Peter MacKay is expected to win the leadership race. This may well tempt western Conservative Party members to jump ship for WEXIT, and capture Conservative voters who justly feel disenfranchised from National politics.
Many westerners abandoned any remaining hope of inclusion when Prime Minister Trudeau reneged on his 2015 campaign promise to end the existing first-past-the-post voting system prior to the 2019 election. Of course, had he revised the electoral system, he would have lost in 2019, since Scheer won the popular vote (CP 6,155,662 – LP 5,915,950 votes). The electoral system allowed the Liberals to win a plurality of seats with only 33% of the vote, thereby cementing western alienation and midwifing the birth of WEXIT.
In 2017 NDP Leader Tom Mulcair questioned Trudeau about abandoning electoral reform, saying that he had betrayed Canadians, “A political party promises something in order to get elected…but once elected they shamelessly break that promise.”
Trudeau responding saying, “Over the past year we consulted with hundreds of thousands of Canadians…there is no consensus.” He failed to state how the consultations took place.
The PM may want to imagine 104 WEXIT Members in the House, and re-consider.