Wexit Canada interim leader says Trudeau's 2019 win prompted him to back the movement
The new interim leader of the separatist party Wexit Canada, Jay Hill, says the re-election of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government was what convinced him that Western Canada needs to form an independent nation.
The Wexit party’s view is that Confederation isn’t working for Western Canada, specifically Alberta and Saskatchewan, and that it’s time to split off from the rest of the country.
The separatist movement saw new life breathed into it on election night 2019, with the Liberal win tapping into anger and frustration among voters who felt they’ve been short-changed by the federal government. #Wexit began trending on Twitter in Canada in the early morning hours after the election results came in.
In an interview on CTV’s Question Period, host Evan Solomon asked Hill—who served as a Conservative MP for 17 years and was the house leader and government whip under former prime minister Stephen Harper—when he came to the conclusion that it was time for Western Canada to go it alone.
“I think the deal breaker was the re-election of Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government last October, but I've been speaking out on independence for Western Canada, writing newspaper columns over the last two years now, and I was clearly leaning that way, I was trying to lead some, or at least prompt some discussion on the subject," Hill said.
"But when Justin Trudeau was elected, largely because of the Maritimes and Quebec and Ontario … it was very clear then that the West is once again completely out of step with central Canada.”
Citing the number of seats in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario and the way the House of Commons seats are allocated, which is based on population, Hill said that it’s clear to him that “we're never going to get a fair deal,” regardless of whether it was a Liberal or Conservative government in power, because political leaders have to “appease” to vote-rich central Canada to stay in power.
"I think a lot of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Westerners, are equally frustrated and fed up and looking for an alternative,” Hill said, noting that even if the movement was successful in potential referendums, it would take “years of negotiations” on many issues to iron out how separating would work.
Wexit Canada, which is headquartered in Leduc, Alta. according to Elections Canada, officially became an eligible federal political party in January.
In order to become eligible, parties have to submit the names, addresses and signatures of 250 electors who have party membership and back the application for registration. A logo and purpose of the party also needs to be submitted.
Hill said he hopes to run candidates in the next federal campaign, but should Trudeau call a snap election in the fall—as some have speculated but Trudeau has shot down—he isn’t sure the party would be ready to run a “credible campaign.”
In order to be fully registered with Elections Canada, the party must run at least one candidate in a byelection or general election.
Asked if he was worried about splitting the vote among conservative-minded voters, Hill said he would leave the decision to voters.
“We basically have a Liberal minority government elected by the East and Central Canada -- Toronto, primarily -- and they, to our estimation, they are absolutely destroying the country. And what can the Conservative Party do about it? If we had a dozen less Conservative MPs from the Prairies, what difference would it make?” he said.
With files from CTV News’ Nicole Bogart and CTV News Edmonton