Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday November 5, 2019
Wexit group applies to become federal political party
A separatist group calling for Alberta to leave Canada has begun the process to become a federal political party.
Wexit Alberta’s application arrived on Monday at Elections Canada, which has begun the verification process, according to a spokesperson for the federal agency.
The group, led by Albertan Peter Downing, aims to do “for Western Canada what the Bloc Québécois did for Quebec,” Downing said.
Downing ran federally with the Christian Heritage Party in 2015. He said he’s since been involved with federal Conservative Party boards, and as a campaign manager with the former provincial Wildrose Party.
Before that, he was an RCMP officer and during that time was suspended for uttering threats against his ex-wife — according to both National Post and a now-deleted article in the St. Albert Gazette. Downing has denied the allegations and says he left the force with a clean record.
Wexit Alberta has been accused of allowing conspiracy theories or other harmful rhetoric to circulate online.
Wexit (“Western exit”) supporters are scheduled to hold rallies across Alberta this month, and the sentiment has gained support in the wake of the federal election, which saw the governing Liberals shut out of Alberta and most of the west.
Announcing the party’s application, Downing wrote on Facebook that Premier Jason Kenney “needs to become the VERY FIRST PRESIDENT OF ALBERTA.”
Kenney has called separation “irrational,” but is also planning a referendum on equalization and is appointing a panel to discuss the province’s place in the federation.
Many politicians are being careful to hedge their words on the topic, says political scientist Jared Wesley.
“This is a different kind of movement. We’ve seen it generate success south of the border and in Europe. I think political elites ignore it at their peril but they have to be very careful when they provide legitimacy to what, right now, is a pretty fringe movement,” he said.
Seceding could also be difficult, experts say. Any provinces looking to leave Confederation would have to address First Nations treaties and other complications like trade, national defence and amending the country’s constitution. (CBC)