Sunday, December 10, 2023

‘Alberta has been cheated’: Wexit supporters on what drives them

On election night in 2019, Saskatchewan, Alberta and interior British Columbia were swept by a sea of blue, with voters overwhelmingly eager for a change in command that would see the ousting of Justin Trudeau as prime minister, and his replacement by Conservative leader Andrew Scheer. Enough was enough, Conservative voters said, of a Liberal government in Ottawa that seemed oblivious to the concerns and real economic hardships of westerners.

But a strong showing for the Liberals in Atlantic Canada and the Greater Toronto Area, coupled with a resurgence of the Bloc in Quebec, meant that, for many western Canadians, the election was once again decided before the count reached the Ontario-Manitoba border. The fact that Conservatives won a majority of the votes in Canada but still lost added insult to injury.

To little surprise, that evening saw the reawakening of western separatism: the idea that if Canada can’t support the oil and gas industry or offer fairer terms on equalization, Alberta (or western Canadian provinces as a collective) should do it alone. Some have even floated the idea of Alberta becoming the 51st state of America. From Facebook feeds to packed party halls in Alberta cities, supporters of “Wexit” sprang up.

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