Alberta Politics Canadian Politics Opinion

Unintended Consequences are the Worst Kind

It hasn’t even been 48 hours since a Liberal minority government was elected but you may have heard about the burgeoning, or exploding, separation movement in Alberta.

It’s called Wexit, short for Western Exit, and the membership on its Facebook Page, VoteWexit.com (yes, that’s the Page name and also a website address), ballooned from a couple thousand members on Election Day to 222,000 before noon on Wednesday.

But what, exactly, is it?

Well, in addition to being a safe space for people who really dislike not being the centre of attention, it is also a political party.

Let’s come back to that.

The thought leader behind Wexit is Peter Downing who has apparently been active in trying to gain recognition for the past five years.  

According to a small bio on an Eventbrite registration, Downing is a former member of the RCMP and Canadian Forces. Other noted accomplishments are the national mainstream media attention a February 2019 billboard received, and his entry into the Saskatchewan billboard market the following month.

But Downing has also taken decisive action to complain about middle-aged cyclists trying to raise awareness about the vulnerability of riders as part of the Worldwide Naked Bike Ride. Yet one more thing I learned today.

Downing stated that since public nudity was a criminal code offence, the eight or so people participating should be arrested.

The Edmonton Police said the ride was a protest and was therefore protected under freedom of expression.

“If the police don’t start doing their jobs,” Downing ranted, “if the government doesn’t start doing their job, well, Albertans will just vote for us next time.”

A pretty bold claim from someone who has yet to officially register as a political party.

None of that matters now, however, because the damage is probably only just beginning.

Most people know there are consequences for things they say and do.  

For two and a half years, Jason Kenney has been beating a drum for Albertans. Albertans aren’t getting a fair deal, Kenney would say. Alberta was ‘under assault’ by other provincial governments, Kenney said. A national unity crisis was brewing, Kenney said. Trudeau and Notley, with their alliance and their carbon tax, were trying to sabotage Alberta’s economy, Kenney said.

And Albertans believed him.

Conservative Party of Canada MPs like Calgary’s Michelle Rempel implored Canada to “think of Alberta” when they cast their votes. Former Conservative Party of Canada MP and current Alberta Premier Jason Kenney even campaigned with Andrew Scheer across the country because “the re-election of a Trudeau-liberal government would be devastating for this province“. 

And Albertans believed them.

So, when Justin Trudeau won a minority government, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe sat down and wrote strongly worded letters. They also had a list of demands for the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, the fear in Alberta reached a boiling point and Albertans found something better than a letter; they found a man with a Facebook Page and a promise.

Because, you see, the situation is dire; very dire.

Mr. Peter Downing, whose name I’ve had to look up every single time I used it in this article, is about to become a household name across the entire country. And he currently has the eyes and ears of thousands of scared Albertans. And he’s organizing. 

He’s starting a political party, or two, and he’s going to run in elections; against Jason Kenney and Scott Moe and the Conservative Party of Canada.

<slow, slow, clap>

This post is an opinion.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean

contact: dmaclean@countersign.ca, hello@politicalrnd.ca

Twitter: @Mitchell_AB for all the commentary; @thisweekinAB for posts; @politicalRnD to guess “who tweeted that”?

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