Seemingly overnight, Wexit has captured the attention of Western Canadians and the media alike.
Sparked by the reelection of Justin Trudeau, Wexit Facebook pages have grown exponentially. The Facebook group VoteWexit, for example, went from having 73,000 members Tuesday morning to having 217,000 a day later. The site’s website has crashed as well, seemingly from lack of bandwidth.
Albertan separatism has remained on the back burner for years now. While the issue generally remains stagnant, the Trudeau reelection prompted Alberta Premier Jason Kenney to address the re-emerging issue, with a specific focus on the strain the federal government has placed on Alberta and its people.
“At heart, most Albertans are patriots. … We should not let Justin Trudeau and his policies make us feel unwelcome in our own country,” said Premier Kenney at a media event yesterday.
“There have been suicides … we must give frustrated Albertans an opportunity to speak their minds. Moderates are now speaking to me about separation.”
Whether or not the Wexit idea can hold water, though, is another question altogether.
Though the idea has surely captured the imagination of many western Canadians, it quickly becomes bogged down by the realities of secession. Attempting to flesh out how a Wexit would take place leaves more questions than answers.
Would it be a pure majority-wins referendum, à la Brexit or Quebec in 1995?
Which provinces would participate in such a referendum?
Would a separate referendum occur in all four provinces, asking whether they’d like to remain in Canada or leave?
Let’s say a referendum of that nature were to be held tomorrow. Would Western Canadians even vote to leave? Though this question is currently unanswerable, there are numbers that give some insight.
Specifically, voting numbers from the federal election and previous polls.
Between British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, 5,385,792 votes were cast between the four major parties—the Conservatives, the Liberals, the New Democrats, and the Greens.
Of those 5.3 million, 2.8 million voted Conservative. The idea of equating a Conservative vote to a “leave” vote, though, does not stand up upon further scrutiny.
With most British Columbians surely being against the idea of leaving Canada to help out the prairies, the inner provinces are then left landlocked.
One thing that is difficult to figure out, though, is why British Columbia would want to leave Canada. Because, well, they wouldn’t.
In British Columbia, 35 percent of voters checked their ballots for the Conservatives, while the remaining 65 percent was distributed across the three other major players.
When it comes to leaving Canada, Alberta is the only province that could possibly reach the 50 percent threshold required for leaving, and even that scenario is considered by many to be a total pipe dream.
The sentiment is there, though. One sign of rising enthusiasm is in the relaunching of the Western Standard. President and former candidate for the Freedom Conservative Party, Derek Fildebrant.
Fildebrant announced his re-entry into the world of politics today, walking back his statements saying that he wanted to leave the world of politics earlier this year.
His audience, of course, will be Western Canadians, as Fildebrant seeks to capitalize on the turbulence caused by Trudeau’s reelection.
“Right now, Westerners are rightfully alienated from federalism and the major media and business institutions of Central Canada. The Western Standard will be a home for the great debates that Westerners are having but are not yet reflected in these institutions.”
The roots of Albertan separatism, like a lot of Canada’s issues today, start with the Trudeaus. In Alberta’s case, it started with Pierre. The seeds for the idea of a separate Alberta were planted in the 1970s when then Prime Minister PET began to pursue ideas antithetical to Albertan interests.
The National Energy Program was seen by many Albertans as a direct slap in the face to the economy and Albertan values. These impressions have lasted, as we now have an Alberta that has made it clear time and time again that they’re not all too thrilled about the new Trudeau, either.
Wexit would be a messy disaster. So it’s all the more telling that Albertans don’t seem to care about the fallout, and would rather be in charge of their own destiny consequences be damned.