Continued splintering on the right

The weekly editorial for the 100 Mile Free Press

In stark contrast to for example Alberta’s provincial politics, where Jason Kenney managed to unite the right into the United Conservative Party in 2017, on a federal level the right of the political spectrum continues to splinter. First following a very tight leadership race that saw Andrew Scheer eke out victory, his opponent Maxime Bernier left to form his own political party (the Peoples Party of Canada or PPC).

Following Trudeau’s reelection in 2019, albeit with a minority instead of a majority, Wexit seemed to pick up steam. That train continued to pick up speed this week as Elections Canada announced that Wexit is now eligible to register as a political party for federal elections, following eligibility requirements. Wexit Canada leader Peter Downing said that it’s impossible for Conservatives to ever form government again. Hyperbole as that may be, the creation of yet another party on the right certainly isn’t going to help that matter. According to a Facebook post, they plan to nominate 104 candidates, one in each federal riding in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Apparently, it’s too cold in the Yukon and Northwest Territories or maybe they’ve simply forgotten it’s there.

In any case, recent world events have shown that while to some the notion of Wexit may seem ridiculous, it’s something to be taken seriously. Though, this is not to suggest we’re likely to have a referendum on the matter anytime soon.

Brexit (to secede the U.K. from the EU), in various forms, failed many times. For example, in a 1975 referendum, 67.2 per cent voted to stay in. Popular opinion on Alberta secession does not appear that far-flung from where it was at in the U.K. in 1975. A Nov. 6, 2019, Ipsos Reid poll showed 33 per cent of respondents in Alberta agreed that “my province would be better off if it separated from Canada.” The average in Western Canada was 21 per cent with 13 per cent in B.C., 27 per cent in Saskatchewan and 11 per cent in Manitoba. For comparison, support for separation was lower in Quebec (26 per cent) than in Alberta.

Or to look at things from a different angle, a bigger percentage of respondents in Alberta thought they’d be better off separated than voted for the Liberals, NDP, Green and independents combined in the recent federal election.

Even in B.C., according to the poll, a greater percentage of respondents thought they’d be better off separated than voted for the Green Party.

Whether those respondents would actually vote for the Wexit party is another matter altogether of course. However, what is clear is that the number of people supporting separation is not insignificant. You can take that either as encouragement or as a warning.

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