Updated: Oct 25, 2021
Interim leader Jay Hill announced the Western separatist movement would rebrand, turning the corner from 'Wexit Canada,' to the 'Maverick Party' yesterday.
The connection with the protagonist of the Top Gun Franchise, Lt. Maverick (played by Tom Cruise), is unintentional but not unwelcome, Hill remarked. "The name Maverick fits everyone. Anyone can be a maverick at any age," reported Hill in an interview with the Western Standard. "A maverick is a leader…not afraid of change and has the ability to seize opportunities." He conceded that the new Top Gun sequel's release would "keep the name in the forefront."
Maxime Bernier, the founder of the People's Party of Canada, also chimed in on the sudden name change in what appeared to be a clash of egos. "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."
A name change has been in the works since at least July, Hill noted. In part, the difference was motivated to avoid confusing voters with similarly named political parties at the federal and provincial levels. According to Hill, an online poll revealed that two-thirds of supporters agreed with a name change, although reception to the 'Maverick' rebranding has been controversial.
The Western Standard noted that the name change was received coolly by Wexit Canada's founder, Peter Downing: "The membership should have had a say before any name change happened, but I guess we'll find out whether people like the new Coke, versus the old Coke."
In light of Western separatism's continued position on the fringe of Canadian politics, it's unclear whether this name change will further hinder the movement from achieving mainstream appeal. Only 7% of Canadians support Western independence nationally. In Alberta, the number rises to 20%, with 26% conceding they could "live with it," while 54 percent called it a "terrible idea"—that is to say, 80% of Albertans are dispassionate about independence. However, despite one-fifth of the province supporting independence, this does not translate into direct political support for such a dramatic push.
A recent Canada338 poll demonstrated that if an election were held today (September 18, 2020), the UCP would still achieve a majority—albeit a reduced one—whereas the provincial Alberta Independence Party, with the support of 7.7% of voters, is not expected to win any seats. However, three-quarters of Albertans do concede that their province is treated "unfairly" in its relationship with the rest of the country—but the problem remains: not enough agree that independence is the proper solution to this problem.
Low numbers are but one hurdle that the Western separatist platform must overcome; there are others. CBC indicates that the movement largely overlaps with conservatism support, with 81 percent of 'Wexiteers' having voted Conservative in the 2019 federal elections. Given that support for non-conservative parties is stronger in British Columbia and Manitoba (either federally and provincially), it is highly unlikely that the movement will cultivate support for independence by appealing mostly to the same conservative ethos in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
However, Hill believes the name change will attract support from voters across the political spectrum.
"There's mavericks in the business world, in virtually every occupation you run across what is referred to as mavericks — people who chart an independent path," Hill said. "So we think that it reaches the young people as well. There's going to be some excitement, I believe, about this new political party, the Maverick Party."