NORTH BATTLEFORD - The interim leader of the Maverick Party was actively looking for votes in the Battlefords area over the weekend.
Jay Hill was on hand for an afternoon event at Porta Bella restaurant on Saturday in North Battleford, as part of his leader’s tour of ridings the Mavericks are contesting in the 2021 federal election.
It was a meet and greet event where Hill, along with deputy leader Allan Kerpan, met directly with supporters and potential supporters. Unable to make it was the candidate in Battlefords-Lloydminster, Ken Rutherford, who was under the weather.
The goal of the tour, Hill said, was to support their candidates.
“We’re running 30 candidates now in western Canada – one in Manitoba, seven in Saskatchewan, 19 in Alberta and three in British Columbia,” said Hill. “So we’re trying to get around to most of them to lend our support, both moral support I guess and speaking in support of their candidacy.”
The reaction at their events, Hill said, is that “people are supportive of the Maverick Party once they learn about us, first of all, and then learn what we’re all about and why we launched it a year ago.”
“We’re very fortunate in that most people clearly understand that the West has been mistreated for decades if not a century or more, and they’re looking for change. And that’s largely our message – is that one of the first steps is to elect Maverick MPs that will represent their constituents properly. It’ll be ‘true Western representation’ is our slogan. None of the other parties can offer that because all of them have to pander to central Canada because they know that’s where the votes and the seats are. And because we are only ever intending to run in western Canada, we can offer Western Canadians true Western representation by sending a Maverick to Ottawa.”
Hill, who is a former Reform and Conservative MP and cabinet minister, had come out of retirement last June to get Maverick off the ground.
Hill said he didn’t “join the Maverick Party – I started the Maverick Party.”
He and a small group of eight people took over what was the former WEXIT Canada entity and “immediately started to transform it into a much more saleable product, which eventually in the fall, in September of last year, became Maverick Party.”
From there they developed their twin-track mission statement, eight guiding principles, and started developing their platform, Hill said.
Hill said building a party from scratch has been a massive undertaking, with very limited financial resources. Hill acknowledged the COVID-19 pandemic complicated things even further because of all the restrictions.
“Most activities are face to face when trying to build a political entity,” said Hill.
To get their message out, they relied heavily on social media, advertising, and through talk show appearances and the like.
He acknowledges the Mavericks are drawing the bulk of their support from former Conservatives. But he stressed the party is gaining support from people of all previous political positions.
“We describe Maverick as neither right nor left, just good old fashioned common sense,” said Hill. “That’s how our platform, our principles, indeed how our mission statement is viewed by Westerners that take the time and have the time to read through it.”
Their 30 candidates are running in Conservative-held seats – part of a strategy by the Mavericks to target Conservative ridings in order to avoid vote-splitting that would elect a Liberal or NDP.
There is no chance, none, that an NDP or a Liberal would be inadvertently elected,” said Hill.
For his part, Hill feels they have an “excellent chance” in the ridings the Mavericks are contesting, pointing to dissatisfaction with the new Conservative leader.
“People feel rightly betrayed by Erin O’Toole and the Conservative party and that extends to their individual Member of Parliament,” said O’Toole.
“And that extends to the Battlefords. You have to wonder why the local Member of Parliament is so silent on issues that are so important.”
Hill pointed issues such as the equilization formula as one example, and also the “goofy climate change plan and carbon tax” in the Conservative platform, which he said only appeals to central Canada.
“People out West – they notice things like that. And in Battlefords that’s certainly true as well.”
The Maverick leader also pointed to “silence” from Conservative incumbents on these issues. “It’s like they’ve gone into hiding,” said Hill.
In Battlefords-Lloydminster, the Mavericks are trying to flip a seat that has been held since 2017 by Conservative Rosemarie Falk, who won in 2019 with 78 per cent of the vote. Falk had spent the previous few days campaigning in areas including Medstead, Glaslyn, Wilkie, Tramping Lake and Lloydminster.
At this point it looks as if the Mavericks are set with their 30 candidates, and Hill said they plan to continue to support their candidates as best they can at various events throughout the election. But he stopped short of making any election predictions.
“I learned a long time ago not to hypothesize about the future,” said Hill. “I just hope that sufficient numbers of western Canadians, and in this case the people of the Battlefords riding, give this a lot of thought and we start down the road towards future change and control of our own destiny.”