Wexit moved from cyberspace into the real world after the October 21 general election results came in, with Trudeau poised to form a minority government in Ottawa.
The growing calls for Wexit are threatening to overshadow the second term of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Wexit or Western Exit, drawn from the term Brexit – the withdrawal of Britain from the EU, refers to the growing demand in provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan for separation from Canada.
Wexit moved from cyberspace into the real world after the October 21 general election results came in, with Trudeau poised to form a minority government in Ottawa. “I think at this point it’s a reaction to a disappointing election in the West,” Andrew McDougall, political scientist with the University of Toronto – Scarborough, said.
“It’s playing on some longstanding grievances the West has had in Canada,” he explained.
Principal among these is the anger with the Trudeau government for not doing enough to support places like Alberta, which have economies driven by natural resources, particularly oil, and have suffered a downturn in recent times. Last week, a Wexit town hall was held in Edmonton, a city in Alberta, and subsequently proponents have collected enough signatures to apply for formation of a Wexit Party.
Its leader Peter Downing told the network CTV, “For a number of reasons right now western Canadians, and Alberta in particular, are looking into the situation and we really do think that we are going to be better off separate from the ruling authorities in Ottawa.”
Trudeau seems to be aware of the gravity of the issue and has appointed former Alberta MP as an adviser. During his victory speech on the night of October 21, he had directly addressed the matter.“To Canadians in Alberta and Saskatchewan, know that you are an essential part of our great country. Let us all work hard to bring our country together,” he said.
Canada’s has experienced separatism before, with the province of Quebec twice holding unsuccessful referendums for independence.