Maverick Party candidate Colin Krieger made a pit stop in Whitecourt on Monday, August 30, inviting residents to attend a town hall event at the Forest Interpretive Centre. During the hour-long talk, Krieger spoke about his past experiences and why the time is right for a west-only party. "I am not a politician by trade. I drove truck, had a small business, and the last 15 or so years I've worked as an oilfield operator," said Krieger. His great grandfather moved into the Valleyview area in the late 1920s, and his grandfather homesteaded in the area. "We've been there pretty much ever since."
On why he wanted to put his name in the ring for the Maverick Party, Krieger said that this step is the most important thing he can think of doing. "I'm a new grandpa. I have an eighteen-month-old grandson. He is an absolute joy in my life, and it occurred to me that the way things are going, left unchecked, his opportunities will not be the same as mine or ours. The things that we had available to us for opportunities will not be his and indeed will not be your children and grandchildren's either."
As signs pop up across the area, residents might be wondering if the party is new, and the answer is yes. "The Maverick Party is approximately one year old. We are new, but that does not mean we are inexperienced. Our interim leader Jay Hill was a member of parliament for 16 years in the riding by Dawson Creek. He served underneath Stephen Harper and is a very accomplished man. He knows how the system works and knows what it takes to start a new party because he was also involved at the very beginning stages of the Reform Party."
Krieger explained that Western Canada needs "a clear voice in Ottawa" and that the representatives elected here do not fully provide that because of party politics. "National parties need to be re-elected, and they are chasing the prime minister's chair. They want to fill that chair with somebody from their party. If they want to do that, they need votes in Ontario and Quebec, and if it takes money to accomplish that from Western Canada, then that's what they will do. We know this. We've seen it."
A fan of history, Krieger brought up a cartoon that many Albertans would recognize. "In 1905, Alberta became a province. Ten years later, there was a very famous cartoon printed. It's a large map of Canada with a cow standing on it, being fed on the West coast and milked on the East. That was printed in 1915. Just ten years later, Albertans were starting to realize that we were getting a raw deal in this Canadian confederation. A hundred and six years later, that cartoon still matters. People from here still understand what it means. That is the reason we need the Maverick Party."
Krieger said that getting solid representation in Ottawa would mean not pleasing Eastern voters, which no other party can risk doing. "The only way that we can do that is by never running candidates there. The Maverick Party will only ever be fielding candidates in Western Canada, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and eventually the territories. The reason we do that is so that when we go to Ottawa, we can advocate our needs without worrying about how it's going to be viewed in the East."
One of the Maverick Party's promises is that Maverick MPs will have two goals: a twin-track solution. "Track A is constitutional change," began Krieger, including a Triple E Senate (Equal, Elected and Effective). "Equal means every jurisdiction in the country will get the same number of representatives no matter how many people live in that province or territory. Elected means that we can fire them if they aren't doing their jobs. Just like me. You need to be able to fire me if I'm not doing my job. And it needs to be effective."
Track B is about what to do if Track A doesn't work. "We would begin the process of supporting Western independence in all of its forms, up to and including statehood. There are smaller measures that we can support on the way." Krieger said that since independence is a provincially-driven change, not federal, Maverick MPs would pressure provincial leaders if that's what voters wanted.
"The only similar party is the Bloc Quebecois. We may not like them or like what they stand for, but there is no denying they have been very effective for the people that live in their jurisdiction because they've had that clear voice, and they've had that person, that party, only advocating for them. That's what the Maverick Park wants to do for the West. We need it," explained Krieger.
When asked about vaccine mandates, Krieger said that the Maverick Party's platform puts more layers of insulation between federal authority and provincial authority areas. "Anything to do with health is a provincial authority area. We as citizens should be dealing with our provincial people as it's their responsibility and not Ottawa's." He also added that the party's emblem, specifically the I in Maverick, says Freedom. "That's not an accident, and it's not a byline. That means that you, as citizens, should have the freedom to choose whether or not you have a vaccine. It means that you should have the ability to travel within the jurisdictions of Canada freely. That is our, and my, personal position on that and one that I will not back down on. We are built on freedom of choice, and the minute that starts to break down our society is not far behind it."
A big question asked by attendees had to do with vote splitting. Krieger said that he understood the fear. "Although we are running in every province in the west, the Maverick Party is not running in every riding. We have handpicked 50 ridings." Why only 50 ridings? "In this riding in the last federal election, Arnold Viersen won with over 80 percent of the vote. In this federal election, even if the Maverick Party and the Conservative Party split the vote right down the middle, both the Mavericks and the Conservatives would have three to four times more votes than the next person after them. It would be impossible for an NDP or a Liberal or a Green candidate to slide up the middle between us. That's why the Maverick Party has done that," said Krieger. "We have to take a stand."
Serena Lapointe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Whitecourt Press