ATHABASCA – When Lakeland voters go to the polls for the Sept. 20 federal election, the choice for conservatives may not be as clear as it has been in previous elections with three parties representing the right side of the political spectrum, including the Maverick Party, whose purpose for being is to represent the interests of the Western provinces in Canada and change the constitution to reflect those interests, all while working toward an autonomous and independent western nation.
Created shortly after the 2019 federal election, the new party was formed under the Wexit Canada banner, changing its name to the Maverick Party in September 2020.
By the spring of 2021, semi-retired pastor and former farmer Fred Seritt was starting to explore the political landscape a little more closely as he helped his two eldest sons with their oilfield service business in Lloydminster.
“I always voted Conservative, but I just felt like it was getting nowhere and I heard about the Maverick Party, looked it up on the Internet and went to a town hall,” he said in a Sept. 1 phone interview. “What really attracted me to it was that it was unique in that it was going to always be a regional federal party, and just like the Bloc party in Quebec, only out west, and so we have the opportunity to just solely focus on Western issues.”
Just six days after being nominated as the party’s candidate for the Lakeland riding, Sirett was thrown into his first election campaign in mid-August.
“We're scrambling pretty hard as a new party, getting everybody in place and money in place and so forth, but it's been very well-received wherever we have gone—it has been very well-received—the key will be how much ground we can get covered,” he said.
Central to the Maverick Party’s platform is the theme of constitutional change, stoked by what it sees as an unfair deal for the West in Confederation. As such, Sirett and his fellow candidates are getting behind the party’s twin-track approach and mission statement of achieving “greater fairness and self-determination for Western Canadians through: a) constitutional change, or b) the creation of a Western nation.”
There are five constitutional amendments the Maverick Party is proposing: market access for Western resources; provincial rights to guard against intrusions from Ottawa; adding a fundamental right to own property; more provincial self-governance; and Senate and parliamentary reforms. All the while, they’ll be preparing to create an independent nation if the amendments are rejected.
“Separate is the wrong word, we want greater independence, and I guess that could look like a lot of things,” Sirett said. “Quebec is still staying within Confederation and yet is really distinctly independent to a great deal. So, what that would look like? We don't know.”
While those specifics depend on a lot of variables, the party is very specific about some of the other changes it would like to see. Scrapping carbon taxes and the current equalization formula; repealing bills that are detrimental to the energy industry and the movement of resources; eliminating interprovincial trade barriers; judicial reform; and firearms rights. On divisive issues such as abortion, medically-assisted death and same sex rights, the party pledges it will never bring forward related legislation and will provide MPs with a free vote should other parties ever bring those issues forward.
The free vote is another aspect Sirett sees as setting the party apart from not just the other conservative parties, but from all the parties, whose adherence to toeing the party line is something you won’t see in the Maverick Party—as long as it’s good for the West.
“I feel like a prime minister who's had such little disregard for literally a quarter of the nation should be asked to step down—it's that bad for me. Where are we going to get the voice to start to push back at some of this stuff? It seems like it hasn't happened. There's a lot of people frustrated,” said Sirett.