The UCP lead in polls, despite rising separatist sentiment
At the end of July, another separatist party officially registered with Elections Alberta called the Wildrose Independence Party of Alberta (WIPA). The party recently declared former Wildrose Party MLA and entrepreneur Paul Hinman as interim party leader. He brings with him a wealth of experience as an MLA that adds credibility to the newly created party, much like Jay Hill's appointment as interim leader of Wexit at the federal level.
In a recent poll, Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party (UCP) led Rachel Notley's New Democrat Party at 44.8 percent of decided voters to 35.5 percent, according to Philippe J. Fournier at 338Canada. The same poll found the separatist movement had support from 8 percent of decided voters within the province, including support for WIPA and the Alberta Independence Party.
Despite leading in the polls, the UCP has faced a steady decline in support over their diplomatic approach with Ottawa that some believe does not go far enough. Fellow UCP MLA Drew Barnes of Cypress-Medicine Hat was quick to call out his party over the findings of the Fair Deal Panel in a dissenting letter.
A testament to the seemingly changing tides of Alberta politics, according to another source, is that around 30 percent of UCP members are willing to vote for other parties in 2023. They attribute an unwillingness to support a referendum on separation amongst party brass, and other issues pertaining to the province's place in the federation.
There appears to be a growing dissatisfaction with how the Alberta Government has handled core issues such as government spending and budgets. Albertan voters expressed their concerns for the lack of leadership by the UCP concerning a spike in job losses dating back to 2019.
The approval rating of Premier Jason Kenney has dropped from 62 percent to 41 percent in 18 months, according to the same source. Within the poll, the issues Albertans seem to prioritize are the economy, health care, energy, and government spending.
WIPA Leader Paul Hinman responded to questions on the premier's performance, referencing his 'countless empty promises' that spurred a return to politics by Hinman. He went on to state that the premier talked about a “summer of repeal,” but to date, he has had little to show for a platform that appeared optimistic and hopeful from the onset.
With a not-insignificant amount of Albertans viewing independence from the federation as plausible, several polls have indicated a steady decline in support for established political parties over flawed policies and the perceived betrayal of their grassroots membership.
Paul Hinman also commented on western alienation, stating that “Albertans have reached a tipping point and are completely fed up. I am proud of Albertans for questioning the status quo and realizing we do not want Ottawa to make our critical decisions when they do not know what is directly going on.”
While consensus on separation does not indicate outright support, “There is a way out to regain freedom, prosperity, and peace," says Hinman. "We need to restore the true Alberta Advantage."
On the state of separation, he responded, “I don't even know if they have a clue we are upset," referencing his claims of an alarming disconnect between Albertans and their government, as well as that between Ottawa and western Canada. Moreover, Hinman repeatedly voiced that Ottawa is incredibly hypocritical.
Hinman concluded: "We need to get our house in order, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel for Albertans.”