“Wexit” is dangerous, but not because it’s ever likely to come to pass.

The economic case for Prairie separatism is so obviously lame — because of what’s happened to the world market for fossil fuels and because people who actually live where there’s tidewater aren’t interested and never will be — that such nonsense will never grow legs.

Author and Washington Post journalist David Moscrop (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Even if that weren’t so, the average age of the folks who keep showing up at Wexit rallies is so ludicrously old, as photos of Edmonton’s Saturday night barroom crowd illustrate, that if the idea’s not dead yet, it soon will be.

Then there’s that stupid name, which should be enough to kill it on its own. Do you really want to leave your fate in the hands of the kind of clowns who would dream up something like “Wexit”? Even “Weave” would be more dignified!

As Canadian-born author, PhD political scientist and Washington Post journalist David Moscrop wryly observed at a recent convention in Edmonton, “if you want to be a separatist, that is absolutely your business. But if you call it ‘Wexit,’ people are going to laugh at you!”

No, the problem is that ideological extremists are inevitably attracted to utopian national projects like this one.

This is because utopian idealists with a highly ideological bent are, to be blunt, the sort of people most likely to do violence in the service of their cause.

Moreover, without unique cultural factors such as a language to protect, such causes are likely to attract no one but members of the ideological fringe they inhabit. And the less likely they are to succeed, the greater their frustration with normal democratic politics is bound to be.

This problem is made more severe by the particular variety of ideologues this fringe group has drawn to its ranks. Consider the rhetoric associated with some of Wexit’s leaders and it’s clear what kind of ideology they espouse.

Postmedia columnist Andrew Coyne (Photo: David. J. Climenhaga).

“White replacement,” hysterical red-baiting, Islamophobia, conspiratorial notions about United Nations food and relief programs, bizarre suggestions the federal government is purposely letting terrorists slip into the country and encouraging pedophilia, and incessant insistence there’s a sinister plot to seize their firearms all figure prominently on the social media accounts of this group — including those of prominent leaders.

If this doesn’t indicate potential for violence, what else would?

Mainstream Conservative politicians in Alberta helped gin up this fake movement before the federal election to cynically advance their effort to wrest power from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. They continued trying to fan the flames after the vote to vent their bitterness at the reality they’d lost a contest they’d convinced themselves they were going to win. Such political theatre is also handy to distract from the substantial and growing opposition to the vicious cuts in the UCP budget.

But politicians who adopt such risky strategies need to take care. They have a way of coming back to bite their inventors.

They should remember the fate that befell Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on Oct. 31, 1984, after she encouraged militant Sikh separatists in Punjab for political advantage, then turned on them when she decided their activities had gone too far. One is reminded of those the tragic events when reading angry tweets from Wexit nuts bitterly calling out Premier Jason Kenney as just another Ottawa toady.

The late Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi (Photo: Anil496, Creative Commons).

So United Conservative Party and Conservative Party of Canada activists and strategists need to dial it back if they really care about Alberta and Canada as they say they do. Honourable and patriotic Conservatives to whom Mr. Kenney might listen, and there are still many, have a moral obligation to tell him so.

For their part, mainstream media need to stop treating the leaders of this fringe movement as rock stars and credulously accepting their fibs and exaggerations about their support just because the story is easy and inexpensive to cover and plays to the current UCP narrative.

We’ve been treated to months of solemn bloviation on this theme by high-profile right-wing commentators like Andrew Coyne, Danielle Smith and Lorne Gunter, seen very little attention paid by reporters to the troubling histories of some Wexit leaders, and less to whomever is funding this nonsense.

How about taking a serious look at the number of supporters this “movement” actually has instead of just accepting organizers’ claims. Most media reported there were 750 people at the Edmonton hootenanny bar. Photos on social media looked like there were about 300 mostly elderly Wexitopians in attendance. The bar has a legal occupancy limit of 479. Media has also credulously repeated claims the group has 32,000 Facebook followers and 260,000 supporters throughout Alberta — both of which are presumably true only if you count Russian bots.

Since media loves polls so much, how about commissioning one that asks some of the tough what-if questions about Alberta separation? Still on board if you have to give up your Canadian passport? What if you lose the protection of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? What if the trade deal you think will be so easy to negotiate with the United States turns out to be hard?

And what if your Canada Pension Plan is replaced by a pension run by the same clowns who pissed away the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund? You’d think that last question might ring a bell with a lot of participants in Saturday’s hootenanny in Edmonton!

And when journalists manage to discover which Calgary billionaires are paying for those expensive Wexit billboards and social media campaigns, maybe they could name them and shame them.

Since we know from the histories of Canada, the United States, India and other democracies that such movements have the potential for tragic violence, one would also hope that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service are paying serious attention to these groups and the people behind them.

Join the Conversation


  1. Pollsters have 73% of those who identify as UCP, wanting to separate. My dad wanted to separate in 1980 and now I, my kids and most Albertans I know, seriously want out. I know Lawyers, Chartered Accountants, business owners, students, Trades workers etc who all want to separate. You wrote “Still on board if you have to give up your Canadian passport? Gee, I bet we could come up with our very own new passport. You asked: “What if you lose the protection of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms”? We would create our own Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as Trudeau is eroding that anyway! You asked: “What if the trade deal you think will be so easy to negotiate with the United States turns out to be hard?” I rather doubt that, as the USA is the only entity serious about our oil now anyways. You asked: “And what if your Canada Pension Plan is replaced by a pension run by the same clowns who pissed away the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund?” It certainly can’t be worse than a Federal Government that takes 20+ BILLION a year from Alberta. And get this, we took a few rig-pigs off the oil wells and trained them to be Chartered Accountants and Lawyers, just so they could handle the CPP issue.
    It is an article like this that infuriates us, you’re insulting and haven’t a clue what you’re talking about.

    1. Support for separatism supposedly runs at around 20-30 per cent according to polls I’ve seen reported, astonishingly high figures that suggest these are online panels packed by far right activists or mischevious UCP activists. An Angus Reid Institute poll in February said 50 per cent of respondents thought Alberta separation was a possibility, again unlikely, but misreported in one story as being an indicator of support. Readers of AlbertaPolitics.ca would be interested, I am sure, in a link to the poll you cite. As for feeling infuriated at my prose, I’m sure this can’t be good for your blood pressure. Probably best to stick with opinions with which you agree if that’s your reaction. History will tell which of us has a clue. DJC

      1. It is now January 13,2020 and I’m wondering if you,David, have the same opinion about Alberta Separation as you did on November 5,2019?
        I have read Jill Skriver’s comment,and I totally agree with her as her points are pretty valid and on the mark. I have a feeling that if the Trudeau government keeps shutting down Alberta’s economy and if Kenney soft-touches or back-pedals on his promises to fight this problem, the Wexit Party will gain more support and force a referendum on Separation which will probably pass.
        I don’t like the Trudeau government and I don’t like Trudeau.Politically or personally. Him and his government is just too toxic for Alberta and as an Albertan, I have no qualms about separating from Canada because of this.

    2. Jill Skriver:
      If Alberta separates the Americans will be in here like poop on a blanket. Do you really want their lifestyle in Alberta? Everyone shooting those they don’t like, our children sent off to endless wars, no healthcare etc. etc. Careful what you wish for.

    3. Jill Skriver, Kettle calling the pot black! Take a bow foolish jester, all have witnessed your pathetic self humiliating performance, now hang up your curly toed shoes and your bell tassel three pronged hat and scramble off to bed.

  2. There is so much hot air being expunged during these Wexit meetings that I’m sure it’s raising the core temperature of the earth by half a degree. If Trudeau really wants to do something about global warming he should ban the western separation movement.

    Russian bots? Really? Does Vladimir Putin or the Kremlin really care whether Alberta separates or not. There were elections last month in Russia and Putin’s party didn’t fare so well. His party came in second in Moscow behind the Communist Party. Putin has trouble controlling his own back yard let alone the rest of the world. Russian bots have become a catch all bogeyman to explain away complex problems.

    1. Russian bots: Does the Kremlin really care about Wexit? No, I don’t think they do per se, but being a formerly brutal, totalitarian state and world superpower-counter-balance to the USA that collapsed so spectacularly and has struggled so obviously since, Russia feels not only embarrassment, but also threat from more than half the world that so recently aimed to destroy the Soviet Union by any and every means possible—including mutually assured nuclear destruction. Russia is much diminished, embarrassed, mortified, and feeling vulnerable, hence its outwardly belligerent bravado intended to hide its real strategic and economic weakness. From this point of view, any activity that diminishes the enemies’ capacity to attack or manipulate Russia in its delicate circumstance must be undertaken—especially if not as expensively as maintaining military hardware to guard its 54-nation border, such as the internet makes opportune at a vanishingly small comparative cost.

      Fomenting domestic unrest in the enemy’s homeland is stock strategy. The Russians have every reason to believe their online activities get tangible, usable results. Looking at Canada as a whole (that is, strategically), the biggest division at present is Alberta separation. Naturally the Russians know more than a little about the costly stresses and strains of internal dissent from their own experience—they are more expert about it than, say, North Americans are.

      Just as naturally, democratic elections are propitious times to sew rancour and tumult in a nation. The situation in Alberta right now is that this separatist stuff coincides with a contentious federal election—a sort of ‘two-for-one’ deal. According to ‘Hoylevich’ the Russians will do everything they can to provoke, agitate and irritate domestic division amongst any of their enemies’ citizens—it weakens the threat of attack on or manipulation of Russia by foreign interests by way of preoccupying those interests with tumult within their own borders or organizations. If Russians can gin dissent up in their enemies’camps, they’ll probably try, at very least.

      1. There is no reason to believe that far-right imbeciles are reading and internalizing whatever emissions are actually emanating from the Russians. I don’t know that the Russians could match the US Empire for brutality on their best day. Curtis Lemay bragged that the US had killed twenty percent of the North Korean population via aerial bombardment between 1950 and ’53. The US brought freedom from corporeal existence to another few million Vietnamese, not to mention damaging the genetic structure of hundreds of thousands more with Agent Orange. They sided with Moslem nutcases and fascists to overthrow Suharto in Indonesia in ’65, resulting in the murder of about 800 000 “leftists” in the ensuing two or three years. The CIA, with the enthusiastic help of the Canadian military, overthrew Patrice Lumumba, who was later chopped into pieces and dissolved in acid, and subsequently millions have been killed in the endless conflict in Central Africa. So I can’t buy your “embarassment” motive for Russia, and I see no reason that the Russians would believe that they could swing an election in the US, or Canada for that matter.

  3. Thank you so much David. I’m in Toronto and you seem to be the only voice of reason in this. CTV News Network just now is running a piece how “Wexit” is wanting official party status with Elections Canada. This is craziness. Don’t they realize the rest of the country could care less?

  4. This is really some kind of messed up sh*t here folks!

    For some reason, I’m inclined to recall a song by Johnny Russel (click on link below) that was mighty popular around these parts during the 70s — especially when I look at and hear from this disgruntled group of apoplectic Albertans. Perhaps “Rednexit” would be a more appropriate moniker for this new iteration of Alberta’s latest “rage machine” brought to you in part by Andrew Scheer and Jason Kenney.

    Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgotUxu_ips

    P.S. Zero credit to Alberta’s mainstream media for giving this pile of rubbish any kind of oxygen.

  5. I certainly believe the security services should be looking into these groups and the people behind them. But will happen when it turns out that the people behind them are the same people as are behind Kenney, Ford and Manning? What if it turns out to be the case, as in the USA, that the new “Conservative movement” in Canada is simply a long-running criminal conspiracy to subvert the realm?

  6. There are a lot of costs involved in running a country, such as operating embassies, enforcing border controls etc. I wonder how many of those dedicated Wexiters want out of Canada badly enough that they would be willing to pay higher taxes to get out.

    1. This is an interesting point. Whenever Alberta is compared to Norway, to Alberta’s detriment, the response is always “Well, it isn’t fair to compare a nation to a province like Alberta, we have to send all of our money to Ottawa, yadda yadda yadda…”. And in fact, they’re right – the comparison isn’t fair. Norway has all of these costs incumbent upon a sovereign nation, that Alberta shares with nine other members of Confederation. Despite all of these extra costs Norway has, it has still managed to retain a huge amount of wealth generated by its fossil fuel reserves, whereas Alberta, given an easy fiscal ride as a province, has still managed to piss it all away.
      It’s a comparison no Albertan should welcome, but not for the reasons that most Tories seem to understand.

  7. I don’t want to minimize your concerns — these are worrying times — but I was reminded again today of another era in Alberta’s history when similar, hysterical nonsense had the province in its sweaty grip. Remember 1981 when a separatist candidate, Gordon Kessler, won a byelection in Olds-Didsbury.
    In the year or so before that election, Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed had whipped up the population into a frenzy with his “The Feds are on the doorstep” rhetoric. (It still mystifies me why progessives today hold such reverence for Premier Pete. He tried to manipulate the voters like the best of ’em)
    Now the language used was not as bizarre as we read and hear today. But, in some ways we should be grateful for the idiocy of the Wexiteers. In Lougheed’s time, the separatist sentiment was, in my view, more serious, and, significantly, more mainstream.
    Alberta has to have these tantrums every few decades. But the chances are, the Wexit wrangling will become as minor a historical footnote as Gordon Kessler became.

  8. Andrew Coyne has been the more sober of the three mentioned on this issue. Lorne Gunter dropped his usual crazy on Rebel Media last week declaring that the federation is “broken” and there’s no hope – even voting Liberal is a dead-end for Alberta. As for Danielle Smith, she gets her marching order straight from Kenney and the “Calgary School”.

    As for Wexit, it’s an Alt-Right freakshow that must be watched. Filled with angry old white men and INCELs, we can expect assaults against all the usual targets…feminists, Muslims, people of colour and the educated and worldly (reading is kind of gay) All this means is that there will be dark days ahead.

    Kenney will, of course, gin up this crowd vicariously through his proxies, like Craig Chandler, all the while presenting himself as the one who warned Trudeau over western alienation.

  9. How would it be even possible to separate, when Alberta oil is now thought of as filthy and our major oil customers also consider us their competitor? Furthermore Kenny’s anti climate change stance has closed the door on any east or west pipeline so our oil will continue to be sold at cut rates. Prices will probably keep falling also once the U.S. accomplishes it’s coup and Venezuelan oil will be flowing heavily to American refineries. The conservatives for over 40 years did nothing to help wean us off oil revenue and with extremely reduced oil prices so how is anything to be financed? The Conservatives took away my union pension in the 80’s now these wacko nut jobs want to take away my Canada pension. I’ve often wondered why they put nutritional information on dog food cans, now I know, it’s because Conservatives know without a pension working people will still need to eat.

  10. “Since we know from the histories of Canada, the United States, India and other democracies that such movements have the potential for tragic violence, one would also hope that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service are paying serious attention to these groups and the people behind them……”

    David, I am pretty sure they are…..

  11. You’re darn right it’s dangerous!

    We haven’t had a conservative government, as we understand conservatism since before Mulroney. It used to be that that Liberals and Conservatives, Tories and Grits, were 2 sides of the same ideology; democracy. Both sides contained memberships of passionate and fervent promoters of the ideas of a democracy and a better democracy. They only differed on how democracy was defined and how it was best achieved. But they agreed that democracy was the best system of governance and that they, each one of them was the peoples representative to promote and defend that democratic ideal.

    Today, not so much. Mulroney was the last Progressive Conservative but he was a thief, so no ideology other than feathering his own nest. Lougheed was the last provincial PC, both Getty and Klein were in thrall to business. Getty because he was a businessman, Klein because he was ignorant and easily swayed. In both cases neither held out democracy as something to be protected or fought for.

    Today, we have so-called conservatives rallying around an individual, rallying around individual rights to believe whatever they want and have whatever they want. I don’t know exactly what kind of ideology these nutjobs espouse but it’s not democratic. Perhaps nationalism, perhaps white supremacy, maybe just individualism, most likely just belligerence. Whatever it is, it’s about the person speaking out about it and not about the greater community. They are not conservatives as we understand conservatism.

    There are no conservatives in Canada today despite what they might call themselves.

    History tells us where these self-involved political movements end up. So for those who are proudly out and speaking up about their fascist beliefs we know what to expect. For the rest, until they are intelligent enough to recognize reality and draw out cause and effect for the greater community, it’s safe to say they are proto-fascist. They are not on the side of democracy. It does not appear that they even know what they stand for but they are easy marks for a charismatic despot.

    Perhaps we’ll have a totalitarian fascist uprising circa 1930’s but we won’t know until after it’s a fact. I for one am not willing to wait to see what these nutbars are going to do. It’s time to recognize what is in front of us and call it by its rightful name.

  12. Whoever is funding and advising the Western secessionist/balkanization movement must love the poorly educated too, because it seems that useful idiots come in all shapes, sizes and political ‘isms’. According to ‘VICE’, even though; the ‘#Wexit’ founders are a somewhat pathetic cast of characters, ready access to the MSM spotlight (Starring the usual partisan MSM PR agents, Danielle Smith, Andrew Coyne, Lorne Gunter, as noted above) suggests they should not be underestimated, if they are willingly provided a free MSM platform as a means to reinforce and normalize their falsehoods . Distortions of fact and the whipping up unjustified fear and hysteria are political mainstays for gaining and maintaining adherents and no amount of rational debunking and reasoned thought will ever be enough to change the mind of the die hard sectarian fanatics still looking for their own Donald Trump clone in the Great White North (MAGA for the poorly educated Albertans, one supposes).

    The program of equalization and Federal financial transfers has already been dissected by at least one qualified individual who concluded, among other things, that:

    “Alberta faces serious fiscal challenges that need serious leaders with serious solutions. Blaming others, dividing the province and misleading voters does real harm.”

    The poorly educated need to do more fact checking and rely less on the partisan vitriol of the latest snake oil salesman. A good place to start is here:






    There is much interesting information in the above articles, but for some politically inclined wind mill tilting partisans, the above information may be severely traumatizing to their world view and the pathetic childish whinging that constantly accompanies it.

  13. I don’t know about the name part, these are some of the same groups that brought you the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance Party and recently the UCP. Smart enough to quickly fix the first one but the second one seems to have stuck.
    Encouraging these angry entitled groups will not end well for anyone it is time for the adults in the room to stamp this out, if there are any left. Kenney came to power encouraging this anger blaming the NDP for everyone’s troubles, promising a return to boom times if only they would kick out the NDP. Now not only are the jobs not coming back but any support is being removed. So it’s on to blaming Trudeau, the one who actually bought the pipeline when the private sector wouldn’t touch it, and the rest of Canada.
    The big question I have is how does this play into Kenney’s goal of becoming Prime Minister? Tear the country apart and somehow rule over the ashes? Make himself completely unelectable outside of Alberta? What will happen to these fringe elements who Kenney used to get power but will surely throw under the bus at some point?
    Perhaps what he will do is drive the federal Conservative party back to their PC roots, with MacKay making noise this may not be too far fetched although he has a lot of baggage. Maybe someone can find Jean Charest?

  14. And with today’s announcement that Wexit is seeking official status as a federal political party establishes nicely another “kamikaze” campaign, designed to assure Kenney’s march into the CPC leadership.

    How will this work?

    Kenney is unlike to win over sufficient numbers of conservatives outside the socon axis of Western Canada to assure the party’s leadership. If anything, Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada will resist his efforts. So, Kenney delivers his ultimatum: give him the leadership or a federal Wexit party will wipe the Conservative Party of Canada out of existence.

    Given this ultimatum, the upcoming leadership vote will allow for “one member-one vote” balloting, which will serve Kenney well, thanks to the bulk of CPC members being from Alberta.

    And the fix is in.

  15. The least danger of Wexit is Wexit. It would clearly be against the interest of a region upset about lack of access to tidewater to landlock itself further. However, the issues of energy and the environment have become very emorionally laden, logic is no longer governing the debate and hasn’t for a while. Just look at Brexit, which was also dismissed in the early stages. One should not underestimate the ability of those with grievances to lash out and ultimately do self destructive things.

    However, we are not at that stage yet and hopefully it will not go that far. Some of our provincial politicians have been fanning the flames of regional discontent, perhaps to take away attention from their own less than popular austerity moves. However they must surely realize by now if you play with fire too much, you risk getting burned. Also, it is hard to convincingly play the role of fireman when you are also the arsonist. All this is not lost on the rest of Canada who already see the Premiers of Albera and Saskatchewan being too disingenious here.

    The greater danger is that the threat of separatism will be used to pressure the Federal government to relent on the issue of the environment to placate the two unhappy western provinces. Alternatively, the Conservatives who could not win the national debate on carbon taxes will try to morph it into a national unity debate instead in which only they can “save” the country, of course by relenting on environmental and climate change concerns.

    The danger is this could turn into a high stakes game of chicken if the rest of the country does not respond well to this sort of blackmail and I think it probably will not.
    If the rest of the country really wanted the Conservative non action climate plan, it would have voted for it. It did not. Attempts to achieve through a backhanded way what could not be accomplished in a more straightforward way are likely to only increase anger and frustration all around.

  16. DC, on the one hand I agree that no eruption of “populist” nonsense should be completely ignored, I’m firmly of the view that Wexit’s pursuit of wasckally wabbits is just a cartoon sideshow. Almost all Albertans are loyal Canadians. Alberta has never, in 114 years, elected a separatist MP. Last month Quebec elected 32 avowed separatist to the federal parliament. Alberta once had one, solitary, separatist MLA (Gordon Kesler). He won a by-election in 1982 and was defeated 6 months later.

    If these folks really wanted to build a separatist movement in Alberta they would have to build a provincial separatist party (like the PQ) and a federal separatist party (like the BQ). Assuming they wouldn’t have much of a shot in Edmonton Strathcona, that means the only federal seats they could target would be those currently held by the Conservatives. I can’t see mainstream Conservatives liking that very much.

  17. Shut the fuck up boomer. You old fucks have ruined the country long enough and it’s high time it burns down so something beautiful yet untamed may rise from the ashes.

    1. Perfect example of what we’re up against here …
      Not a care or concern, no understanding and certainly no respect for any but his own slobbering mob.
      No education apparent beyond that required to spell and no awareness of the contemporary world extant beyond that required to manage a spell checker.
      Such a limited and seriously dysfunctional intellect that all that gets through is a overblown sense of entitlement and a desire to strike back at something, or anything.
      The obvious and overwhelmingly attachment to fantasy to cope with day to day realities.

      This is what passes for a grass-roots conservative these days.
      Lord, save us all!

  18. Maybe Peter Downing, George Clark and Rob Anderson can do a KUDATAH (coup d’etat) on Trudeau and Canada. Alberta needs to build more schools and hire more teachers so those like George Clark and his comrades can learn how to spell.

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