#WEXIT: Western Canada separatism explodes on social media
Following the reelection of Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister with a Liberal minority, #Wexit, or Western exit (a play on Brexit), immediately began trending on Twitter, with separatist accounts gaining thousands of new followers.
One of the most important takeaways from the election is the blue sweep throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan. Both provinces have expressed growing indignation over the other provinces’ dependence on the oil industry, while simultaneously trying to stifle Alberta’s business prospects and economic growth by opposing pipelines.
People in Saskatchewan have expressed similar discontent, as many in the province benefit from the oil industry and Saskatchewan farmers in Canada’s heartland worry climate policies will target their economy next.
In response to Justin Trudeau’s reelection, the Facebook group for VoteWexit.com gained tens of thousands of followers in a matter of hours. According to CTV News, in just 10 minutes the group surged from 4,000 members to 42,000. By 8:00 a.m. the next morning, the group had shot up to over 113,000 members.
Additionally, a Change.org petition for “Alberta Separation/Western Alliance” has gained significant traction, receiving over 20.000 signatures of its 25,000 signature goal at the time of this article’s writing. This occurred in less than 24 hours.
“Trudeau’s re-election is going to tear Canada in half. Good job Quebec. You’ll get your separatism desires. The west is leaving,” wrote one Twitter user.
Another writes, “Western Canada – especially Alberta – is basically the victim of an abusive relationship with the rest of the country. Too scared to actually leave but what’s the benefit of staying? Not sure what the answer is but I’m worried about the next 4 years #wexit.”
The biggest concern, beyond a general shift in sentiment towards climate awareness over economic growth, for the Conservative-dominated provinces is the continued placation of Quebec from politicians in Ottawa who seem to take it out on Alberta. This is despite oil and gas revenues subsidizing Quebec’s social services through equalization payments.
Indeed, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Quebec Premier Francois Legault have had multiple verbal jousting matches over just this issue.
According to Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt, whether the Western separatist movement gains traction will be greatly decided by Kenney’s leadership and thoughts on the issue in the coming months.
“You have this large cohort of Conservative MPs. How does the government function? How does the Trudeau government function? What is Kenney’s response?” Bratt said. “I think this is a real danger to national unity.
“Does he try to dampen that down? He didn’t during the campaign. He put out a video in August saying, ‘We don’t want to separate from Canada, we want to separate Trudeau from office.’
“Kenney then campaigns against Trudeau not just in Alberta but in Ontario and in Manitoba and he’s unsuccessful, so where do they go next?”
Mount Royal University political analyst David Taras broadly agreed with Bratt’s analysis.
“Let’s face it, the anger and alienation in western Canada is real and this government will have to deal with it,” Taras said.
“There’s a sense of just awful alienation, of really feeling deeply offended and I think the (Trudeau) government has to really take a look at what it has to do in terms of energy policy and pipelines in order to get any kind of hearing here.”
Other Canadians took to social media to ridicule the possibility of a separatist movement, saying that Alberta is landlocked and, thus, in some way reliant on the coastal provinces.
“Western separation is nonsense,” wrote one Twitter user. “A landlocked state cannot feasibly work… but I do understand the frustration and resentment in the west in a way that I never could while living in Ontario. Scary Times. #Wexit #Elxn43.”
Another Twitter user wrote, “I understand the frustration, but immediately wanting to separate from Canada after the party you support loses is the childhood equivalent of shutting off the Nintendo, taking your controller and going home when your team gets scored on. #wexit #elxn43.”
While landlocked states are more difficult to manage, some have argued that selling oil to the U.S. and countries southwards would be significantly easier without Ottawa stifling the industry.
Either way, it’s clear that alternatives to the Canadian confederation are being seriously considered.
According to a poll conducted by Think HQ in early October, 71 percent of respondents believe policies under the Trudeau government are hurting the quality of life in Alberta. That’s compared to 15 percent who felt the opposite.
Before the election, 23 percent of Albertans polled wanted to leave Canada, 17 percent were not sure, and 57 percent wanted to stay. However, many who wanted to stay were still highly dissatisfied by the state and trajectory of policies laid out in Ottawa. We cannot be sure exactly how many will change their mind, but it does appear there is a significant shift towards separatism following the election.
A Saskatchewan judge has charged a man with fraud under $5000 as well as property obtained by crime. Andrij Olesiuk has been found guilty after he defrauded thousands of dollars from donors who thought the money was going to the victims’ families of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash of April 6, 2018.
Olesiuk set up a GoFundMe page entitled #PrayForHumboldt that was said to be crowdfunding for the victim’s families and raised approximately $3800. A separate GoFundMe page for the same purpose raised $15.1 million dollars according to Global News.
Olesiuk took just over $3700 from the GoFundMe account and transferred it into his personal account.
Andrij, also known as Jay Max Olesiuk represented himself during the trial and stated that he had no “ill intention” with the funds raised through his crowdfunding page.
He said he didn’t believe Olesiuk’s story about the woman at his door, saying no sensible person would’ve turned over thousands of dollars. He kept the Broncos money for his own use. Olesiuk stated in his testimony that a woman came to his Martensville, Sask. doorstep on April 24 to solicit donations for a Broncos charitable event. Olesiuk claims to have given the woman $4100 that day in cash, rather than donate his fund directly to the Broncos. The accused was unable to recall the woman’s name or organization she was purportedly with.
“It is too incredible a story to believe,” said Judge Brent Klaus.
Darren Howarth, crown prosecutor argued the “mysterious woman” didn’t exist and believed Olesiuk’s defence to be “ridiculous.”
Howarth presented a transaction log that showed Olesiuk approved a $3,300 payment from GoFundMe to his account one day before the woman allegedly appeared. Olesiuk received the payment on April 25, 2018.
“What are the odds…. that this lady just happened to show up in between the dates he initiated the withdrawal and received the money?” Howarth asked.
Olesiuk defended his story claiming to have been given a receipt from the woman days later in his mailbox. However, he was unable to provide the receipt or even a copy of one as evidence during the trial. Olesiuk said he lost the receipt in a February 2019 house fire.
The defence instead presented a thank you note as an exhibit, which Olesiuk testified he received from the anonymous woman immediately after his donation. He admitted that he hadn’t previously mentioned the note to the police or crown before during cross-examination.
Olesiuk assured the court that the note was in his garage, but the RCMP carried out a search of Olesiuk’s property on November 20, 2018 and said officers never found no such note.
Olesiuk is scheduled to be sentenced on March 3.
Former Saskatchewan MP and Liberal cabinet minister Ralph Goodale said the nascent Wexit separation movement threatens Conservative parties in the province and “would be devastating” economically.
“Because where will those votes come from in the first place, those votes that would support the Wexit movement if it became a party? Those votes would come primarily from the Conservatives and the Sask Party,” Goodale told CBC Saskatchewan.
“So it is in the interests of the Conservatives and the Sask Party to ensure that the Wexit movement does not become a political party that would take votes from them.”
Goodale had served as Regina-Wascana’s MP since 1993 but lost his seat to Conservative Michael Kram in last year’s 43rd general election, leaving the province without a single seat in the House of Commons.
The former Finance minister (PM Paul Martin) and Public Safety Minister in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s previous majority government also said separation would have immediate economic consequences for Saskatchewan.
“When you actually go to the dollars and cents and the nuts and bolts of it all, it would be devastating,” he said.
“We would lose right off the top, for example, $1.7 billion in transfer payments that come into Saskatchewan because of the government of Canada. We would lose things like the RCMP Training Depot at Regina. That would be gone. That’s $40 million every year into the economy.”
Goodale went on to suggest that the Wexit debate itself was “counterproductive.”
“It leads people to have great and furious arguments. It leads to divisions being created and it takes people down a counterproductive rabbit hole,” he said.
An Alberta company that makes diesel from garbage is planning to take the company a step further by adding three new plants—all in southern Alberta.
Cielo Waste Solutions and Renewable Energy currently operates near Lethbridge, AB and plans to make the expansion later this year. So far they’ve started a trial plant in Aldersyde, AB.
The company produces biodiesel fuel by mixing waste and motor oil that has already been recycled. The end product is meant to be a high-grade fuel at a low cost.
CTV reported that the fuel has been used in both vehicles and jets.
Since the recent success of the company, they want to bring the new plants to Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, and Brooks.
Director at the company, Lionel Robins said, “Any kind of wood waste, plastics – all seven types, not just a few plastics—all the clamshell plastics that just been buried in the past, rubber, municipal sod waste. Basically everything but rock, metal and glass.”
By next summer, the company is planning to have all of their new plants in full operation.
They have started construction on an additional plant in Grande Prairie, Alberta.
Provinces are disagreeing with the federal Liberals regarding their plan to enforce a handgun ban. They are instead siding with law enforcement who are arguing that banning legal guns is not the way to reduce violent crimes in Canada.
Saskatchewan is among the governments arguing against the planned handgun ban which is only directed at legal gun owners. They are also against banning semi-automatic rifles and allowing municipalities to choose whether they want to ban handguns for their areas on their own judgement.
Ontario’s Premier, Doug Ford, also commented that bans on legal gun carriers will not be an effective way of lowering gun violence in his area or others.
In Alberta’s legislature, they unanimously passed a motion to preserve the rights of their legal gun owners.
Gun bans are opposed by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. CTV News reported Vancouver police Chief, Adam Palmer saying, “The firearms laws in Canada are actually very good right now. They’re very strict.”
Trudeau previously said, “I very much look forward to the election campaign in which we will be able to share with Canadians our vision for how to keep Canadians safer.”
“That involves, yes, strengthening gun control but it also involves investments that … are so deeply needed in community infrastructure.”
Palmer argued, “People can’t be naive to the realities of how it works with organized crime and smuggling.”
“There will always be an influx of guns from the United States into Canada,” he added. “Heroin is illegal in Canada, too, but we have heroin in Canada.”