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WAGNER: The Maverick’s platform makes them the new party of the West

“The Maverick Party can do for the West what the Bloc does for Quebec: provide an unrepentant defender of its interests, and make the other parties fight for otherwise safe seats.”

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The Reform Party of Canada arose over three decades ago when it became clear that none of the major national political parties were capable or inclined to represent the interests of Western Canada. Since Ontario and Quebec elect well over half of all members of parliament, parties that aspire to form a federal government must cater to the voters of those two provinces. That was true back then, and it’s still true today. There is no escape from this electoral calculation as long as the West remains within Canada.

The Reform Party is long gone, but the political forces that led to its emergence have returned with a vengeance. Justin Trudeau’s Liberals openly scuttle projects that would enhance the development of the West’s energy resources, while Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives seem to be cribbing Liberal policies and trying to paint them blue.

The result is that a political vacuum has opened in the West at the federal level, and the Maverick Party (formerly Wexit Canada) has arisen to fill the void. Its interim leader, former Conservative MP and federal cabinet minister Jay Hill, is articulate and experienced, and has brought a degree of credibility to the Western sovereigntist movement that was previously missing. 

The party’s draft policy platform released on April 26 is short, but that is to be expected from a new party just getting off the ground. As these policies make clear, the Maverick Party is essentially a Conservative Party of the West. But unlike the Reform Party which said “the West wants in”, the Maverick Party says, to at least some extent, that “The West wants out”. 

The platform does not really contain any surprises. The Mavericks want to repeal Trudeau’s efforts to block Western economic development such as the ‘No More Pipelines bill’ (C-69) and the ‘Tanker Ban’ (C-48). They want to make major revisions to the equalization formula, institute fiscal responsibility, reduce trade barriers within Canada, increase the exploration and mining of minerals, strengthen provincial autonomy, and introduce direct democracy. They also want to reform firearms legislation, give greater control of immigration to the provinces, and defund the CBC. These are all good ideas.

Perhaps surprisingly, the largest policy category in the platform covers environmental policy. This no doubt reflects the current preoccupation with climate change. It is the Liberals’ obsession with global warming that has led to their worst policies towards the West.

While opposing any form of carbon tax, the Maverick Party takes a more realistic approach to dealing with environmental concerns than the Liberals or Conservatives. It does not ignore climate change altogether, but instead advocates “for energy options such as nuclear, thermal, biomass, LNG [liquified natural gas] and carbon capture projects to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in western Canada.” 

These are realistic ideas because the technology for producing clean energy using nuclear and liquified natural gas already exists. Both wind energy and solar energy, on the other hand, have severe handicaps such as their unreliability. With existing technology, wind and solar will never be able to replace fossil fuels. There’s no use pretending otherwise.

If fossil fuels are ever to be replaced by some form of clean energy, new technology will need to be developed for that purpose. The Maverick policy recognizes this fact and “supports tax incentives to private companies to continue their global leadership in the research and development of leading-edge technology development of clean energy.”

Despite all its supposed concern about climate change, Central Canada is dependent on oil for much of its energy needs and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. With this in mind, “The Maverick Party calls upon central and eastern Canadians to end the hypocrisy of being critical of the West’s ethical oil while importing dirty, unethical oil from other countries.” Central Canada has received considerable economic benefit from the West’s energy resources while viewing those same resources with disdain.

For some, however, it will be regretted that the Maverick platform seems to adopt Peter MacKay’s “stinking albatross” view of social conservatism. It states, “On issues including abortion, doctor-assisted suicide, and same-sex marriage, the Maverick Party and its MPs commit to not bringing forward party or private member’s legislation on these public policies that reflect Canadians most deeply held personal values.”

Like the Conservative Party, the Maverick Party wants the votes, donations, and campaign volunteer work of social conservatives, but also their silence. After the work is done, their place is at the back of the bus, with their mouths taped shut. 

On the one hand, it is understandable that the Mavericks don’t want to be sidetracked by the kind of controversy generated by mainstream media when a candidate expresses conservative social views. But on the other hand, the proportion of social conservatives in the Western sovereignty movement is much higher than their proportion in the general population. The prohibition of social conservative private member’s bills will appeal much more strongly in places like Edmonton, where support for sovereignty is weak, than in places like Cardston, where support for sovereignty is stronger.

Nevertheless, the Maverick Party’s platform expresses policies that would be clearly beneficial for Western Canada. No other federal party puts the interests of Western Canada in the forefront of their priorities. The great experiment of fusing the Reform Party and PC Party has failed. The Maverick Party can do for the West what the Bloc does for Quebec: provide an unrepentant defender of its interests, and make the other parties fight for otherwise safe seats. 

Westerners should begin to give the Maverick Party a serious look.

Michael Wagner is a Senior Columnist for the Western Standard

Michael Wagner is a Senior Columnist for the Western Standard. He has a PhD in political science from the University of Alberta. His books include 'Alberta: Separatism Then and Now' and 'True Right: Genuine Conservative Leaders of Western Canada.' mwagner@westernstandardonline.com

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. KC

    May 1, 2021 at 11:18 pm

    What people don’t understand about nuclear is it is in fact the cleanest high density energy fuel source and also the safest. I know people happily point to Fukeshema which was caused by a tsunami and is not possible in Alberta, but also Chernobyl which was due entirely to human error. There was one other accident in Greenfield US??? Anyway, these are the only 3 nuclear accidents out of the several thousand nuclear power plants around the world successfully providing safe reliable and affordable energy with zero emissions. New generation nuclear reactors are even safer, often reusing spent fuel from older reactors. Another positive to nuclear is reactor plants can be placed within the current grid system unlike wind and solar that need a lot of new infrastructure and transmission lines to bring the energy into the current grid. The downside to nuclear is it does use a lot of water to keep reactors cool. This has been getting better with newer technology. And no there is no dumping of radioactive water. The water is used as a coolant and is separated from the radioactivity. Japan is a very unique circumstance where the reaction cores were breached and radioactivity does leach into the water.

  2. Baron Not Baron

    April 30, 2021 at 11:45 am

    Nuclear? What is this nonsense? Japan, next month, is dumping their radioactive in the ocean.. Is this a model we want to follow? Are we going to dump ours into our rivers? Maverick, apparently is only bringing “new ideas”. Are these any good?

  3. Left Coast

    April 30, 2021 at 10:48 am

    “carbon capture projects to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in western Canada.”

    Carbon Capture is quite Insane . . . spending 100s of millions pumping life giving CO2 into some hole in the ground to appease some Klimate Guru in support of the Unproven AGW hypothesis is Not Science or of any value, except to those making the dollars.

    Canada’s share of Global Emissions is 1.5% . . . a miniscule amount, and it can be argued that because of Canada’s vast Greenery this never leaves the country.
    Every 20 weeks, China increases their Emissions by more than Canada Annual Emissions, so anything we do, the Billions we waste are dangerously stupid.

    What should Canada be doing today? Absolutely nothing . . . we should wait until the China, India and other poluting countries catch up with us . . . then we can talk.

    The “Idea” our Politicians express that we can set an example is quit insane . . . we are setting an example right into Bankruptcy!

  4. Leonel St Amand

    April 30, 2021 at 10:48 am

    Vote for a western separartion party or an independent candidate, but never vote for federal Maverick, or any of the failed kleptocracy legacy parties, be they O’Toole’s conservative, liberal or NDP parties.
    A vote for Maverick is a sucker’s vote for O’Toole’s carbon tax and to beg liberal Ontario for a change to a constitution that is not worth the paper its written on.
    Maverick is a fraud federalist constitutionalist scam whose aim is to get O’Toole federal conservatives elected and to keep the west in slavery to the east.
    The Maverick/Reform 2.0 reboot Party coup threw WEXIT& separation out the window with the same heartless indifference as politicians who threw covid19 infected seniors into senior’s homes to kill other seniors and staff.
    Without separation, there is no way out from eastern tyranny for the west.
    Maverick dreams of being the chosen as the feudal lords who cash in on rattling the chains and cracking the whip on western serfs toiling to serve eastern feudal liberal overlords, be it Trudeau or Trudeau’s carbon tax tool, O’Toole.
    Alberta can certainly do a better job of managing itself as a nation than the Trudeau socialist kleptocracy nightmare of apocalyptic criminal mismanagement of Canada, and of Alberta issues in particular.
    The real effect on the west of what Maverick is doing is to further weaken the west & to empower eastern Canada’s federalist socialist status quo.
    Jay Hill to Rebel News: “ ..we’re going to try as hard as we can not to contest those ridings where vote splitting might occur”.
    Alberta could be a successful free country on its own like Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, etc, all of which are landlocked as well.
    Maverick wants the west to remain in Canada and therefore to continue being bled dry by eastern liberal tyranny:
    “To achieve greater fairness and self-determination for western Canadians through: (a) constitutional change…”
    Self reliant Alberta has to get on with securing it’s own future by finally separating from broken, dysfunctional, corrupt & failed liberal Canada, which has left Alberta broken & struggling to survive.
    There is no real future for the west in liberal debt ridden Canada that is in a death spiral heading down into a gory Venezuelan type of socialist abyss and taking the west down with it.
    Hopefully a western Canada &/or Alberta separation party will appear on the ballot in the next election to save us from Trudeau’s burning liberal house before liberals turn the country into ashes..
    The WEXIT separation movement is western Canada’s only choice going forward to secure a free and sustainable future as Canada has failed and is a lost cause.
    A future where people don’t have to live in fear of going to jail for years for simply using the wrong gender pronoun or of being sued for refusing to wax Trudeau-phile balls.
    A future that is finally free of eastern Canada robbing the west blind.
    WEXIT separation movement is a path to separation and freedom, while Maverick (good intentions aside) is a federal path to no where but remaining shackled to commie Canada, like medieval serfs.
    Maverick party’s website states that their first & main objective is pure federalism.
    Maverick wants a better constitutional deal for the west, to remain in Canada and therefore to continue being bled dry by eastern liberal tyranny:
    “To achieve greater fairness and self-determination for western Canadians through:
    (a) constitutional change…”
    The reformed constitution fantasy ship sailed long ago, it was tried & it failed, chasing this political rabbit trail left Alberta decades behind on achieving much needed change and even worse off than before, its getting worse all the time.
    The Maverick party has already been wisely rejected by westerners as per federalist Mavericks’ nominal support on Facebook which comprises of a token ~12k Maverick FB followers(~8k in March2021), compared to, the only logical political choice, WEXIT’s ~240k FB followers.
    The west needs to take control of it’s own destiny with something new, powerful, real & substantive, which is separation.
    Alberta must NOT allow itself to go down with Trudeau’s failing commie Canada, time to grieve it & leave it behind, cut the cord with Canada.
    Trudeau has brought Canada to the brink of destruction with totalitarian commie insanity like massive debt Canada can never repay, his welfare state (universal income), carbon tax, tax spikes, Trudeau’s no more pipelines laws,covid19 criminal incompetence, graft & corruption, etc.
    Kenny had the right approach when he said “if the B.C. New Democrats continue to block our energy, we’ll happily give them a carbon-free Vancouver”.
    Sadly, in Trudeau’s deeply oppressed Soviet Union, soviet satellite Alberta has no rights and so does not have the freedom to negotiate strongly & fairly as equals on issues.
    As a separate nation, Alberta has more strength & flexibility to resolve disputes as equals in negotiations and need not kowtow to Canada’s soviet economic policy carnage that is bleeding the west to death, as Russia also bled its enslaved soviet satellite states in the USSR.
    Voting for any federalist party is the definition of insanity, which is doing the same thing and expecting different results.
    Voting for federalist parties like conservatives, liberals, ndp, greens and the new Maverick party, is really a vote for the insanity of perpetuating eastern Canada’s liberal chokehold on the west.
    Under federalist parties, liberal Ontario will continue to decide who leads &how to run the country in horrific radical left-wing fashion, no matter the unsustainable destructive cost of doing so.
    Maverick is a sycophantic federalist dinosaur stuck in the federal conservative party’s rear view mirror.
    Maverick, although perhaps well meaning, is a failed past federalist Reform 2.0 reboot party.
    Been there, done that, it failed miserably, no thanks, time to separate from Canada as we’ve tried everything else.
    Maverick’s plan boils down to begging for a better constitutional deal for the west from Trudeau’s liberal eastern Canada.
    That is a fool’s errand that was pursued by Reform for years and failed.
    That plan has no chance of success as Canada does not even uphold the current constitution and its laws.
    In western Canada, federalism has devolved into the bondage of feudalism, replete with Ottawa’s crippling debt bondage and Alberta’s indentured servitude resulting in billion$ being stolen annually by the liberal east.
    The liberal east ruling class exploits the west ruthlessly, extorting $billions and taking our resources at predatory prices that are far below real market prices & often even below production costs.
    Trudeau’s liberal east is like heartless medieval feudal lords greedily profiting from the blood, sweat & tears of their subjects’ hard work in medieval times.
    The west is powerless to prevent the pillage inflicted by the rapacious, corrupt & incompetent evil eastern liberal lords like Trudeau.
    Flippant lesser Maverick references to possible separation are but a mere after thought.
    Federalist Maverick party is primarily committed to keeping Alberta locked in Canada and opposed to separation, Maverick propaganda platitudes to the contrary aside.
    Maverick cannot be both a federal constitutional party and a separation party at the same time because those 2 objectives are at complete odds with each other.
    BREXIT would never have succeeded if the movement had waffled endlessly back and forth between leaving and diddling for a better remain deal that would never have been honored by the E.U.
    Alberta needs strong & decisive leadership that has the courage of it’s convictions to see the separation goal through to the end.
    If Alberta’s leadership is weak, indecisive and wavering, then it does not have what it takes to get it done.
    The Maverick leader has made it clear that his Maverick party does not have the courage of their convictions required for separation.
    Maverick will not even bother to run a full slate of candidates because Maverick is obviously not in it to win it for the west.
    Not only is bizarre Maverick not in it to win it, Maverick does not plan to even BE in the election, for the most part, let alone win it.
    If Maverick was a truly a party out for better constitutional deals, then Maverick should run across the country against the overreaching soviet Ottawa politburo establishment, rallying all provinces & territories to fight Ottawa for fair & better constitutional deals.
    The real effect on the west of what Maverick is doing is to further weaken the west & to empower eastern Canada’s federalist socialist status quo.
    Jay Hill to Rebel News: “ ..we’re going to try as hard as we can not to contest those ridings where vote splitting might occur”.
    Maverick has devolved from the focused separatist WEXIT party I originally joined, into its current unrecognizable form.
    Maverick now appears to be a gaggle of avid pot bellied middle aged cross dressed bearded federalist cheer leaders on the sidelines, who only exist to enthusiastically cheer on federal conservatives.
    Occasionally, Maverick cheerleader candidates may run alongside conservative candidates to whisper sycophantic motivating sweet nothings into their conservative ears.
    Maverick is definitely NOT what I signed up for with WEXIT, which was merely to seek separation thru a referendum vote for a better future.
    Maverick’ deserves applause for it’s honesty& openness in coming out of their political closet to reveal their true political gender identity as federal constitutionalists whose primary raison d’etre is to serve as sycophants for the federal conservative party.
    The reality is that the west needs a federal constitutionalist party like we need a hole in the head, buggy whips & moustache wax, or Trudeau’s carbon tax, which O’Toole intends to keep along with many other liberal atrocities.
    Federal Conservatives just rebrand, repackage and water down liberal BS into smaller bites, with a few liberal things left off the menu, for the country to swallow more easily. Under federal conservatives, the toxic leftwing path to total destruction may have been slowed down, but it has always remained steadily on its apocalyptic socialist track.
    Liberals bluntly force feed their liberal crap whole, contemptuously pumped through a feeding tube directly into voters.
    Their methods aside, all federal parties are hell bent on keeping the west powerless, bled dry and subjected to eastern Canada’s ongoing unsustainable apocalyptic destruction of the west and Alberta in particular.
    Staying in Canada also means having to be persecuted by the never-ending lawlessness of rogue Canadian kangaroo courts ruling against Alberta interests in clear violation of the constitution and Alberta’s basic human rights.
    E.G. Trans Mountain pipeline was established in 1951, expansion proposed in 2013 and has yet to be completed thanks to banana republic court decisions that clearly violate Alberta’s constitutional rights.
    Canada’s constitution is not worth the paper its written on.
    It clearly does not protect Albertans from eastern Canada’s lawless courts, persecutions and provides no protection from the radical left’s agenda to destroy Alberta and Canada as well.
    Maverick’s “better” constitutional deal BS is a scam as the constitution means nothing, so more Maverick constitutional BS simply = more of nothing for the west, but more eastern liberal status quo.
    The left’s rigged Canadian courts have been entirely corrupted and used to destroy the oil & gas industry thru endless frivolous challenges resulting in massive crippling obstruction, delays and added costs.
    Staying in Canada for Alberta also means being litigated to death for the crime of merely trying to affirm one’s most basic& obvious constitutional rights to exist.
    The Maverick scam about begging eastern Canada for a better deal through a constitutional change is a federalist Maverick con job doomed to failure. Reform tried that for decades and it failed miserably, don’t fall for it again folks.
    Maverick is nothing but a smokescreen to keep eastern Canada’s establishment in power over the west so liberals can continue to run amok over the west, forever raping & pillaging our economy & rights.
    The west needs real, decisive, lasting, positive, powerful change and that is NOT what the status quo, not actually even running in elections, conservative sycophant federalist Maverick party brings to the table.
    Since Maverick is mostly not actually running in the election, it begs the question, whats happening with Maverick party funds?
    Are Maverick funds being used to campaign for conservative candidates?
    At any rate, rest assured that Maverick is not wasting their donors’ hard earned money on the bizarre Justin Trudeau’s liberal weirdo collection.
    That includes the official liberal party Trudeau Howling Wolf Underwear and Justin Trudeau Kimono, which naked Liberal MP William Amo needs to wear for his online video parliamentary sessions.
    Naked liberal Willy is more proof that liberals are entirely unworthy to lead, pathetic and small, however thats what voting for any federalist party gets you.
    Much more can be said of the likes of Trudeau & his naked liberal Willy, but thats best left to comedic genius like the old Air Farce and Rick Mercer.
    Canada is truly being run into the ground by eastern liberal socialist idiots.
    Alberta’s only real choice is to leave the doomed sinking Trudeau socialist ship that is Canada, by seeking independence thru a referendum vote on separation from Canada.
    The rest of the west can decide for themselves if they want to leave the failed socialist colonial experiment that is Canada, while Alberta must take the lead and choose to decide its own fate.
    Remain in Canada and go down in flames with Trudeau’s doomed totalitarian liberal Canada or leave Canada to make a better life for ourselves than we could ever have in failed liberal Canada.
    Either way, Alberta’s people must choose their own destiny and live with the consequences of their decision.
    Thats my rant for now and my wife is happy that my rant is on the internet so she does not have to see it or hear it.
    Can’t say I blame her, cuz politics are incredibly dull, bizarre, boring & negative.
    No one reads my opinions anyway and I like that, if any1 did read this, I’d tell them to get a life.
    https://globalnews.ca/…/vancouver-jason-kenney…/
    https://www.rebelnews.com/jay_hill_maverick_party_on_vote
    https://studentsforliberty.org/…/the-albertan-struggle…/
    https://www.narcity.com/…/these-are-all-of-the-things…
    https://ca.news.yahoo.com/liberal-mp-apologizes-appearing
    https://www.nationalobserver.com/…/otoole-climate-plan…

  5. Barbara

    April 30, 2021 at 10:22 am

    Anyone who thinks Nuclear is cleaner than oil and gas has a very short memory.
    You can’t just say it’s cleaner because they have new technology. PROVE IT! In writing and scientific evidence that isn’t compromised by corporations and governments.

    How will NUCLEAR waste be managed, how about NUCLEAR contaminated water? This waste hangs around for thousands of years. Anyone want to go to Chernobyl for a holiday?

    Or will we just pour contaminated , radioactive water in the ocean like Japan is planning to do?

    There are no quick fixes here. Oil and gas , if properly managed, are the cleanest and safest and most efficient source of energy for now.

    Material for solar uses minerals from strip mining in China, the batteries don’t last and are polluters.

    Windmills kill tens of thousands of birds, give minimal energy and don’t work well in the winter, (ask Texas)
    We have to stop doing things for a quick fix and for show or it will be one disaster after another.

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Not so quick with allegations of hate crimes

It wasn’t a fair fight, but a police investigation determined it was also not a hate crime.

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On the surface, a gang of white boys piling on one black boy sure looked like it could be a hate crime.

As it turns out, there was more to the story regarding the April 16 attack in an Edmonton schoolyard.

It wasn’t a fair fight, but a police investigation determined it was also not a hate crime.

A video of the incident, during which the 14-year-old was swarmed and beaten is painful to watch.  It made local news and the “racist” incident was featured on the CBC The National.

That seven boys, all aged 14 but for one 12-year-old, attacked one boy is profoundly disturbing. Whoever stood back to video this is just as guilty as his bully buddies who kicked, punched and put the victim in a chokehold. 

Predictably, some swiftly concluded this attack was purely driven by racial hatred. The facts be damned.

They didn’t talk to the boys involved. 

But police did.

The hate crimes unit concluded this incident didn’t meet the Criminal Code criteria for a hate crime.

“There is still not sufficient evidence that this event was motivated by hate bias or prejudice toward the complainant’s race,” said Edmonton Police Service chief Dale McFee. “As such, it does not currently meet the Criminal Code threshold for a hate-motivated crime.”

During the melee one of the boys yelled out the nasty N-word. McFee rightfully acknowledged this as “highly inappropriate” but not sufficient to meet hate crime standards.

Police discovered the boys had a troubled history but didn’t elaborate.

“Our investigation currently shows this began as a consensual schoolyard fight and was part of an ongoing dispute between a group of male youths, that reportedly started last year,” said McFee.

Admittedly, McFee’s choice of the word consensual is cringeworthy considering that the victim was grossly outnumbered. McFee opened himself up to criticism and is obliged to explain why police arrived at this conclusion.

Police everywhere are working under a microscope, constantly being accused of discriminating against minorities. With budgets being slashed and calls to defund them, they can’t afford to be careless or callous. 

After hearing the results of the investigation, one anti-racism activist with A Fight For Equality insisted it was a hate crime and said charges should be laid against the boys. Essentially, this is a demand for police to ignore the Criminal Code. 

Canada cannot ever go down that slippery slope.

Other activists accused police of not getting the zero-tolerance for hate crimes message across.

What are they doing as activists to bring people with all skin colours together and repair relations in communities? How are they helping to teach their children tolerance and that beating up anyone is unacceptable? 

Knee-jerk reactions fuel division, create unwarranted fear and anger, and are grossly unfair to victims and perpetrators. To wrongly insist this was hate crime doesn’t help these boys who should be the priority. It ignores the root of why this happened and interferes with determining appropriate punishment. A problem, not honestly addressed, doesn’t get fixed.

The reaction to this incident is symptomatic of a growing Canada-wide problem.

McFee dared to say race wasn’t a factor. This is something Canadians are increasingly afraid to say out loud, even when true.

These days, people who denounce or even question accusations of race-based hate are – sometimes viciously – targeted as racist. That’s a bad thing to be. False accusations can destroy reputations. 

Race baiters, seeking to support agendas or personal biases, skillfully use this fear tactic to silence anyone who challenges potentially unfounded claims. 

We must cautiously discern between those who earnestly want unity and seek to protect victims of hate and those seeking to serve their own interests.

Yes, there are racists in Canada. 

No, Canada’s not a systematically racist country.

When Canadians learn someone has been the victim of a hate crime it tears at their hearts. They generously support activist groups who fundraise off of every incident. Ironic isn’t it? 

Moving forward, we must tread carefully on this issue of alleged systematic racism some insist permeates Canada.

Meanwhile, the definition of hate-crime victims sometimes gets confusing.

If seven black boys had attacked one white boy would anyone call it a hate crime? Or would it have been recognized for what it was? 

In today’s climate that’s an uncomfortable, but fair, question. 

Linda Slobodian is the Manitoba Political Columnist for the Western Standard.

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Opinion

HARDING: Maverick is poised to make gains as Conservatives turn their back on the West

“Until recently, the party said it will run candidates solely in ridings where a “split” of the vote wouldn’t elect a Liberal or New Democrat. Since O’Toole’s carbon tax flip-flop, interim party leader Jay Hill has hinted he may drop this policy and run in tighter races, seeing little difference between the Tories and Liberals on western issues.”

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In the coming federal election, whenever it may be, the Conservative Party is positioning itself to lose a significant portion of its western and rural base to the upstart Maverick Party. It’s not hard to see why. 

The policies and person of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fanned the flames of western discontent, and even independence in some quarters. Outdoing all his predecessors since Brian Mulroney, federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has taken the west for granted. In a bid to win more votes in Toronto and Quebec, he has embraced a huge carbon tax with enthusiasm. It could just prove to be the most hated policy on the prairies.

Erin O’Toole’s carbon tax Petro Points plan turned some party faithful into real doubters, or downright hostile ones. Even the phrase “carbon Petro Points plan,” plainly demonstrates the mixture of a bad idea made worse by a gimmicky joke. Even Trudeau’s tax-and-give-it-back-to-you premise – however punishing – is still better than the Tory proposal. O’Toole wants to tax you, but deny he’s taxing you and leave you no recourse to recover your seized money except to make “green” government-approved expenditures. The anti-oil movement meets the nanny state, with a vengeance.

And O’Toole will actually campaign on the idea. The only previous time a major federal opposition leader openly campaigned on a carbon tax was the Stephane Dion Liberals of 2008. They had the most dismal showing in Liberal history to that date, thanks in part to Conservative attack ads that said, “Stephane Dion is not a leader,” and Harper’s comments that his carbon tax was “a tax on everything” that will “screw everybody.” The same could be said of Erin O’Toole and his carbon tax. Obviously, he must have some savvy, having won the Conservative leadership, but his about-face on the carbon tax has turned his reception from “meh” to “blech.”

A recent encounter brought home the seriousness of O’ Toole’s miscalculation for me. At the Chris Sky rally in Regina, I met a man from the Assiniboia Sask. area who told me, “A lot of people are saying they’re not voting Conservative anymore. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

If you don’t know Assiniboia, it’s got about 2,400 people and the closest place with more people, Moose Jaw, is an hour’s drive away. It’s farming and ranching all the way, though the coal-fired power plant in nearby Coronach is a big employer. 

In rural Saskatchewan, the two things heard most often in the 2019 election were: “The election is over as soon as it hits the Manitoba border” and “If Trudeau gets in again, I’m all for Western independence.”

The Maverick Party is best positioned to capitalize on that sentiment. Until recently, the party said it will run candidates solely in ridings where a “split” of the vote wouldn’t elect a Liberal or New Democrat. Since O’Toole’s carbon tax flip-flop, interim party leader Jay Hill has hinted he may drop this policy and run in tighter races, seeing little difference between the Tories and Liberals on western issues.

PPC leader Maxime Bernier gets it on many of the big western issues, but the loss of his own Quebec seat in the last election left a vacuum in the west for discontented conservatives. With no major party capable of electing MPs to champion western issues, Maverick is poised to fill that vacuum.

The late Joseph Garcea, a University of Saskatchewan political science professor who died in November, shared an important insight on the last provincial election. He said the Saskatchewan NDP had many little policy ideas, but no big idea to rally support. Similarly, the PPC has many little ideas. It’s hard to convince people to vote for change with little ideas. The Maverick Party has a big – and some would say radical idea: an independent west – whether within confederation or apart from it.

People make decisions emotionally, then justify them rationally. The Maverick Party will harness both the anger and grievance in western alienation and the hope found in western independence. The Maverick platform adds substance to the sentiment.

As a fresh party with rookie campaign teams, I’d be surprised if Maverick won any seats. However, they stand a good shot of landing plenty of second place finishes. That might be enough to make O’ Toole remember the West. If the Mavericks can do that, it will be accomplishment enough.

Lee Harding is the Saskatchewan Political Columnist for the Western Standard

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Opinion

MORGAN: I was a part of Kenney base. No longer

“I know who Kenney’s base was. The base hasn’t changed. Jason Kenney has.”

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I was a part of Jason Kenney’s base.

Like most Albertans after 2015, I was mortified that we had managed to give the NDP a majority government due to our incessant political infighting and corruption in conservative ranks. I was eager and searching for a way to free ourselves from a provincial government that was farther to the left than Ottawa’s Liberals. I was ready to embrace pragmatism and compromise on the partisan front to ensure that Rachel Notley was a single-term premier, or as Jason Kenney put it, “one and done.”

Jason Kenney entered the Alberta political scene and offered us a plan. He showed us a path to conservative unity and he offered to lead us there. I was thrilled.

I have always respected and admired Jason Kenney. As a fiscal watchdog with the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation, Kenney mercilessly held Ralph Klein’s feet to the fire in the 1990s on issues of spending and corporate welfare. As a Reform Party MP, Kenney took the Chretien Liberals to task on spending and corruption. Kenney deserves some of the credit for the balanced budgets that both Klein and Chretien eventually presented. It takes steady, reasonable pressure in order to get government leaders to take on tough tasks and Kenney was masterful at putting that pressure on.

As a cabinet minister in the Stephen Harper government, Jason Kenney was no less impressive. Immigration has always been a difficult file for conservative governments and as the Immigration and Citizenship Minister, Kenney made great inroads into relations with immigrant communities and was respected across the country. Kenney was no slouch in other ministerial portfolios as well and it has been long established that his parliamentary work ethic is second to none.

Because of that impressive political resume, I was confident that Kenney was the man who would bring Alberta back into being a province known for good, no-nonsense conservative governance.

I supported Kenney’s efforts to unite the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative Parties. I encouraged people to buy memberships in both parties and to vote to merge. I supported Kenney in his multiple leadership races and I supported the UCP in the 2019 Alberta election.

I know who Kenney’s base was. The base hasn’t changed. Jason Kenney has.

The Western Standard reported in an exclusive story, Premier Kenney said, in reference to Albertans who attended a rodeo south of Bowden last week, “If they are our base, I want a new base.”

I didn’t expect Premier Kenney to endorse or support the rodeo. Indeed, it was intentionally modelled to be in defiance of provincial regulations. Kenney clearly realized that the attendees of the rodeo did represent a large part of his base, and while that doesn’t obligate him to support them, it does obligate him to respect them. Kenney instead chose to insult them in public, and show contempt for them in private.

We were your base Premier Kenney, but we aren’t any longer. As for your new base, I am not sure where you expect them to come from. Rest assured, you will not be winning any love from NDP supporters no matter how much you spend or suppress individual rights.

Jason Kenney has turned into a terrible disappointment as Alberta’s premier and it is well reflected in his current support numbers. Kenney’s support among his base was slipping well before the pandemic struck. In this year of crisis however, Kenney’s support has truly evaporated. Kenney has tried to be everything to everybody, and ended up being nothing to anybody. It is a fate that befell Jim Prentice before him.

The conservative base hasn’t left Alberta. They have simply left Jason Kenney and it appears that he is just fine with that.

The base will not go back to Jason Kenney after having been abandoned and taken for granted by him though and he can’t win the next election without them.

The base will find a new home. It may be through replacing Jason Kenney within the UCP, or through a new partisan vehicle. That base may dominate in the next provincial election or we may end up with another NDP government. Time will tell.

Cory Morgan is the Alberta Political Columnist for the Western Standard and the Host of the Cory Morgan Show



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