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CALGARY – Acting leader of the fledgling Maverick Party has said he will make key changes after a disappointing federal election result last month.
Formerly known as Wexit Canada, the party advocates independence for Western Canada or constitutional changes that would benefit the West. It fielded 29 candidates in Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Manitoba.
He garnered 1.4 percent of the vote in Saskatchewan and 1.3 percent in Alberta, but barely raised the needle in British Columbia, where he got 0.1 percent.
“Things could have gone better. I’m not going to try to BS you, ”Acting chef Jay Hill said in a recent interview with The Canadian Press.
“There were a number of factors that really produced the results that we saw, the really disappointing results. It’s like that.”
Hill was elected in 1993 to the Reform Party of Canada in the riding of Prince George — Peace River in British Columbia and had a long political career as the Reform Party evolved into the Canadian Alliance and ultimately the Conservative Party of Canada. Canada. He was Government House Leader under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Hill said some of the problems faced by Mavericks were that few people had heard of the party when the election was called, that there had been a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and that voters were ‘worried about the split of votes and giving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau another term.
“The vast majority of people on the Prairies plugged their noses and voted for Erin O’Toole, even though they now know he is a Liberal in a Conservative blue suit,” Hill said.
Hill acknowledged that Wexit Canada’s initial focus on separating the West probably hurt the Mavericks as well, and in retrospect they should have created a new party from scratch.
“It was totally devoted to Alberta separatism, not even Western separatism, but Alberta separatism and that has left most Westerners uneasy and not ready at this point to go that far.”
At a press conference the day after the federal election, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who worked alongside Hill in the Harper government, highlighted the lack of support the Maverick Party has received.
“I would note that the de facto western separatist party, the Maverick Party, only got about one percent of the vote in Alberta and couldn’t even put forward a full slate of candidates,” Kenney said.
“It probably downplays support for separation in this province significantly, but it’s a signal. The majority of Albertans went to vote in the federal election and… one percent voted for a separatist party.
Hill said lessons have been learned. He expects a new permanent party leader to be in place next year and that the Mavericks will aim to field candidates in all ridings in the West when the next election is called.
“We’re going to totally ignore the whole question of the division of votes and do like the Reform Party: basically run wherever we can organize.” Only, unlike the reform, it will only be in the West.
Lori Williams, a political scientist at Mount Royal University in Calgary, said the results were not a huge surprise as most people had no idea who the Maverick Party was, it had an interim leader and he was facing a larger national campaign. of the People’s Party of Canada.
“Maxime Bernier was generating support from both the kind of people who would otherwise support Maverick as well as the anti-vax mob,” Williams said.
“Canadians knew better (the People’s Party) as an alternative than the other parties that exist. “
With a new leader and some national attention, the Maverick Party could generate more support next time around, Williams suggested.
And that could hurt federal conservatives, she said.
“There are a lot of people… for whom winning a government is not as important as standing up on principle and these people are not going to stand by the Conservative Party.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 2, 2021.
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press