The Maverick Party were in the Battlefords on the weekend, looking to spread their message to potential new supporters.
The party held informational sessions Saturday at the Don Ross Centre, which were among a series of meetings the party has held in Battlefords-Lloydminster in recent weeks.
The party’s interim deputy leader Allan Kerpan, a former Reform MP and one-time Sask. Party MLA, was on hand speaking to those attending about what the new federal party stands for.
“We’re running against a system that does not work,” Kerpan told the audience. He said his party was drawing a line in the sand — precisely at the Ontario-Manitoba border.
On policy, the Maverick Party has a two-pronged approach.
“Maverick Party is bound and determined to forge a new deal for the West,” Kerpan said in speaking to the News-Optimist. The goal is to forge that deal within Confederation through negotiation, “and if that’s not doable, then we are prepared to forge a new deal outside of Confederation using the big stick of independence.”
The party is brand-new, having just formed eight months ago out of the WEXIT movement. The actual policy for the party is still to come, with the full policy set to be released in the next week or so.
But there’s “no secrets about what’s going to be in there,” said Kerpan. “We’re opposed to the carbon tax, we’re opposed to the equalization formula that currently exists in this country, we favour the energy industry, we support pipelines.”
Kerpan also says the party “believes justice should take precedence over control of guns and law abiding citizens.”
The Battlefords-Lloydminster association had been set up early last month in Neilburg, and since then the informational meetings have been held throughout the riding including such towns as Unity, Paradise Hill and Edam.
“I was in Lloydminster a couple or three weeks ago, we did six of them like this in 24 hours and these folks are having them basically one or two every week.” That will start to slow down now, Kerpan says, now that farmers are out in the fields.
The reaction from the latest meetings in North Battleford, Kerpan said, was positive. He was particularly enthused after the last meeting on Saturday.
“People had ideas and questions that I don’t get all the time, but it also shows me they’re thinking about it — the issues and the problems that we have, so that’s a good positive step.”
The Maverick Party is planning to eventually compete in the 107 ridings located west of the Ontario border. For the coming election, however, the party plans to focus on about 33 targeted ridings, all of which are held by Conservative members of parliament.
The Maverick Party believes they can compete in those ridings without splitting the right-wing vote, with the races ultimately boiling down to contests between the Conservatives and themselves.
Kerpan says the party has already set up in 25 of those 33 target seats, with more to come. In Saskatchewan, the party has already set up electoral district associations in six ridings and plan another one or two more.
As well, the party already has six candidates in place to run in the next election, including one candidate in Saskatchewan.
“We’re hoping to elect members of Parliament. How many, we don’t know,” said Kerpan. “Just the way things are rolling, we are in shape to really surprise some people.”
Kerpan believes the Battlefords-Lloydminster seat is fertile ground for the party. The riding was won by Conservative Rosemarie Falk by almost 80 per cent of the vote, but Kerpan believes the seat could flip their way.
The party must still find a candidate to run in Battlefords-Lloydminster, but Kerpan says there has been some interest expressed already. He points to the organization and groundwork done by the local Maverick association as reasons for optimism.
“Battlefords-Lloydminster riding association and the people here are the best we’ve got,” said Kerpan. “They’re way ahead of everybody else. I would put them up against any association we’ve got anywhere in the West ... this riding here takes a back seat to nobody.”