Wexit Canada, the federal party created to advocate for western separatism, is undergoing a makeover. And it’s taking the highway to the danger zone to do it with a new name:
The Maverick Party.
Interim leader Jay Hill confirmed the party registered its new name with elections Canada Thursday. In messaging to members, leader Hill said the name change is meant to give the party its own identity separate from other similarly named movements like Brexit.
“Wexit is the movement that gave birth to our party, but the party has evolved and needs to establish its own identity,” he said.
WATCH: Kenney rebukes would-be separatists. Story continues below.
Various political parties associated with western separatism have popped up over the years, particularly in Alberta, but the “Wexit” — short for “western exit” — movement gained steam following the 2019 federal election, which saw Justin Trudeau’s Liberals form government despite not taking a single seat in Alberta or Saskatchewan. However, the original movement and its leader Peter Downing were marred in various controversies, including associations with far-right conspiracy theory movements and white nationalism.
Hill, a former MP and House Leader under Stephen Harper, was named interim leader of the federal party earlier this summer when Downing said he was moving on to other projects. The party says a new leader will be elected at the party convention at a later date.
According to Hill, a poll of Wexit Canada members earlier this summer two thirds wanted a name change. The new name was picked and approved by the party’s board.
But is it as obvious of a “Top Gun” reference as everyone thinks it is? That’s classified, Hill told the CBC.
“It’s not an intentional connection,” he said. “What has transpired, obviously, is people do reflect on where they’ve heard the name before.”
But Hill is hoping the name gives the party wings.
“And the name will come into the forefront soon with the release of the next ‘Top Gun’ movie with Tom Cruise’s character of course being called ’Maverick,” Hill told right-win outlet the Western Standard.
It’s not an intentional connection. Maverick Party Leader Jay Hill on the party's name connection to "Top Gun"
No word on if he’s worried about Iceman coming to steal his thunder.
Provincial wings of the Wexit movement will remain intact with their current names. If you’re keeping track at home, that means there are now four different names for what a year ago was Wexit, adding the Maverick Party to the Wildrose Independence Party (Alberta), Wexit BC (B.C.) and the Buffalo Party of Saskatchewan (Saskatchewan).
No western separatist party currently has any elected officials in parliament or provincial legislatures.
Canadians had mixed reviews for the new federal party name.
Do you know why the Maverick Party is a great name? Because it’s not clear about the party is about. Wexit would have made it easier to understand for voters at the ballot box. Please continue to make it harder for people to understand your little pity party.— Sarah Elder-Chamanara (@sarahelder) September 18, 2020
Does anyone else think it would be ironic to join a maverick party? And to elect a leader? To support party policy?— Jeff Gaye (@jeffgaye) September 18, 2020
(It's spelled "ironic" but it's pronounced "stupid.") pic.twitter.com/gE1IB2sUdJ
Genuinely puzzled.— y knot (@yknot05) September 18, 2020
What difference does a name make?
It's still the Wexit party.
And there's only ONE Maverick: pic.twitter.com/IcAZlKzVRR
University of Calgary professor Aritha van Herk, whose Twitter handle is @maverickCalgary said the party does not stand for her definition of “maverick.”
Wexit--all of them--don't even know what Maverick means or does. I am NOT a western separatist and they can't have my handle. https://t.co/1quDjv1wxd— Aritha van Herk (@maverickcalgary) September 18, 2020
No one can patent a name. BUT the Wexit party (whatever they think they stand for) does not fit the definition of "maverick." Not my careful, thoughtful analysis of that concept. Read my book, Mavericks, and you will see how they cannot wear those boots. I am not a Wexit-teer.— Aritha van Herk (@maverickcalgary) September 18, 2020
Peoples’ Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier claimed he was “the only Maverick politician in Canada.”
Good luck to the new Maverick Party, but everyone knows I’m the only maverick politician in Canada, and the only one who offers solutions that will save our country while bringing fairness to the West. #Wexit #PPC https://t.co/DDnfh0zDM6 pic.twitter.com/Kv59PTI8fm— Maxime Bernier (@MaximeBernier) September 18, 2020
And yes, there were “Top Gun” jokes. Lots and lots and lots of “Top Gun” jokes.
The Maverick Party has already splintered into the Iceman and Goose parties. https://t.co/x7wvbxkpt4— James "Wash Your Hands" Gemmill (@jamesgemmill) September 18, 2020
Anyway, if we’re naming federal parties after ’80s movies now, someone get me a “Heathers” Party ASAP.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost Canada and has been updated.