As It Happens

Trudeau's victory has turned this Alberta Conservative into a 'reluctant separatist'

Former Conservative MP Jay Hill says the federal election results convinced him that it's time for Alberta and Saskatchewan to separate from Canada.

Former MP Jay Hill says it's time for Alberta, Saskatchewan — and maybe northern B.C. — to leave Canada

Former Conservative MP Jay Hill says Alberta, Saskatchwan, and possibly northern B.C., should separate from Canada. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
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Former Conservative MP Jay Hill says the federal election results have convinced him that it's time for Alberta and Saskatchewan to separate from Canada.

While Justin Trudeau's Liberals eked out a minority government on Monday, they did it without electing any MPs in those two provinces. The Conservatives swept all 14 federal ridings in Saskatchewan, and 33 out of 34 in Alberta. 

Hill is a Calgary resident who served as the MP for Prince George—Peace River in northern B.C. for 17 years, under both the Reform Party of Canada and the Conservatives.

Here is part of his conversation with As It Happens host Carol Off about why he wants to pursue a "Wexit" — or western exit — from Canada.

I remember you and the Reform Party in 1993, and that movement at that time was "The West wants in." This ... idea now is "The West wants out." Is that what you're saying?

That's exactly what I'm saying. I'm saying that this is an illegitimate government. It was elected by Ontario.

Ontarians decided to re-elect Mr. Dressup despite his clear disdain for Western Canada and for our resource industries. And we just simply cannot take it anymore.

What do you make of the fact that ... with our money, Canadian taxpayers' money, the Liberal government bought a pipeline, the intentions of which were to try and get your oil product to tidewater? Do you dismiss that as an effort to try and help the industry?

I think your keyword there was the "intention." I don't believe he ever did have the intention. He was trying to play both sides against the middle on this issue of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

There was no need for the taxpayers to get involved. What we needed was a government that would actually enforce the law and get the damn pipeline built.

Albertans and Saskatchewan residents understand that very clearly, that this is just fun and games for Mr. Trudeau. He doesn't understand the West. He certainly doesn't understand the middle class in this country. He was born with a platinum spoon in his mouth. And he has no grasp of the seriousness of the division that he has created with his laws.

Saskatchewan and Alberta went Conservative in 47 of 48 ridings in Monday's election. (CBC News)

The future, it appears, does not include fossil fuels. Even people in the fossil fuel industry are saying that. ... What is it that you want Canada to do for the West?

What I want Canada to do now is to negotiate the West leaving Confederation, because clearly it doesn't work. We have a prime minister that was re-elected last night with 33 per cent of the people that showed up at the polls, and most of those votes were in central and Eastern Canada. 

And you wonder why the West feels alienated? I mean, it just astounds me. It's insanity for us to keep believing in a system that just sucks dollars through the equalization out of Alberta and Western Canada and gives it to Quebec. And we're supposed to just roll over and allow that to continue to happen forever.

You are a landlocked province that depends on a resource that is slowly being phased out, which is fossil fuels. So what can you possibly do, if you separate?

To start with, your statement that fossil fuels is being phased out is wrong. Fossil fuel usage around the world globally is dramatically increasing. It's just that we're not being allowed to access the global market.

So instead the Americans are increasing production dramatically over the last several years, while at the same time our product, you're quite right, is landlocked.

So what we want to do, I believe, and why I've become what I call a reluctant separatist after last night, is we want to see our product gain world price.

It seems, though, that ... 65 per cent, approximately, of people who voted, voted for parties who have a climate change plans, voted for parties that are offering plans at various degrees for phasing out fossil fuels. That seems to be where this government is going to be putting its ideas. Is that not consistent with where the rest of Canada wants to go, which is toward a climate change plan?

It's certainly consistent with where central and Eastern Canada apparently wants to go.

The Conservatives had the best plan. They just didn't explain it very well. The best thing we can do to reduce global emissions is to export the technology that our ... oil and gas sector has developed in this country to reduce emissions, whether it's cleaner burning coal, which is burned by the tonne every second over in places like China, or whether it's exporting LNG to get power production in those countries off of coal.

I don't know whether you've ever been to Beijing. I have. You can hardly breathe the air there. Those are the countries that have the problems. We can help, if we were to export and work together with them on modern technology to improve their emissions.

But Alberta should not reduce its emissions?

I don't believe it's going to make any dramatic difference. That's my point. All we're going do is cripple our economy.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau celebrates his victory with his supporters during Team Justin Trudeau 2019 election night event in Montreal. (Sebastien St.-Jean/AFP via Getty Images)

Will you be an independent state in the middle of Canada? What's the vision that you're proposing?

We're a long ways from that. I would say step one is for Premiers [Jason] Kenney [of Alberta] and [Scott] Moe [of Saskatchewan] to immediately move to develop a question that they can put to the people of Alberta and Saskatchewan in the form of a referendum as to whether they want to leave. 

I mean, this nonsense that says, "Well, you'll still be landlocked." What's B.C. going to do if Alberta and Saskatchewan vote to leave? Because then all of a sudden, they're cut off from the rest of Canada. So there's going to have to be a lot of negotiation.

Secondly, we clearly found out during the Quebec referendum that provinces are divisible. If the country is divisible, so are provinces. I know for a fact having represented northeastern British Columbia for 17 years in Parliament that the people up there are pissed too and they're ready to leave.

So if B.C. decides not to leave, it doesn't mean that northern British Columbia won't. They voted Conservative.

Is there not a way to do this, to invest in Alberta, that will satisfy the demands and the voting preferences of Eastern Canada? Is there no way to solve this, do you think?

Not the way that Justin Trudeau is going. That is for damn sure.


Written by Sheena Goodyear with files from CBC News. Interview produced by Jean Armstrong. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.

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