'Stronger Western Voice, Stronger Western Representation, and not pandering to the East', the key takeaway from a gathering in Airdrie of Maverick supporters.
Colin Kreiger, the only candidate who has filed paperwork to run, and Tariq Elnaga who has publicly expressed interest in running answered questions from the people gathered about the role of the party, independence vs. separation, and what the party needs to do to attract more supporters.
One question from the audience was about what separates the Maverick Party from the Conservative Party of Canada.
Kreiger simply put it, "A clear voice for western Canadians, a voice that is yours and yours alone, and a voice that your conservative MP has not ever given you." He added, "(The Conservative MPs) will never talk about the issues that affect this province, things like equalization, if the (CPC) forbids the MP from talking about something because it's more popular in the east than it is here, then (they) will never talk about it.
"We will never have that problem because we will not be responsible for anyone else but Western voters," Kreiger added.
Elnaga echoed Kreiger's statement but added, "We have zero voters to appease in Eastern Canada, so we will never have to appease an Eastern voter. And that's the biggest difference between the Conservative and Maverick messaging."
He went on to say that the conservatives have failed to stand up for the west, "All I see from the Conservatives of today is appeasing Eastern Canada, big government, and taking the west for granted."
Elnaga didn't hold back when it came to the Conservative frontrunner Pierre Poilievre when it came to standing up for Western Canada, "50 Conservative MPs voted with the Bloc (Quebecois) to keep one seat (In Quebec) including 10 western MPS."
Elections Canada was calling for the removal of one seat from the House of Commons in Quebec due to the population decline in the province. Alberta is set to see an additional 4 seats in any election conducted past 2024. In early March, the Bloc put forward a motion in the House of Commons to overturn that and the motion called the government to give a seat to Quebec instead of removing one. It passed with a majority in favour with 1 conservative MP from Alberta voting for the motion Red Deer—Mountain View MP Earl Dresshen.
"Pierre Poilievre abstained from that vote," Elnaga added.
On the question of independence vs. separation, Kreiger and Elnaga laid it on on the table on the views moving forward.
Elnaga said he has been clear on his messaging around this issue, "Independence first and separation if necessary. Let's get full autonomy for Western Canada, and that is on everything; our own money, our industry, our finances.
"The plain language version of it is, 'let's divorce Ottawa' if we can because we don't necessarily divorce the rest of the country," he added. Elnaga said that Western Canadians can still be Canadians, "but let's least have nothing to do with Ottawa."
Kreiger said that full-out independence is a provincial issue, "It has to be accomplished through a provincial referendum. If we are going to go that way as a province then it is as Albertans that we are going to go in that direction.
"The Maverick Party, in my view, is here to support Albertans if they choose to go in that direction," Kreiger added.
Kreiger admits that there is still a division on the issue and depending on which part of the province you speak to you might get a different answer, " I have people in my own riding (Peace River-Westlock) that would come up to me and ask 'Why are we talking all these other issues we immediately need to talk about separation!'
"The thing is my riding, which is rural and they live in a somewhat of an eco-chamber, believe that everyone thinks that way. That is because everyone they talk to in their community does," he added. "But if you go to central Edmonton not everyone talks like that. If we were to hold that (independence) referendum we would probably lose it and then we would have a problem."
Candidates have until March 25th to register with the party to be considered in contention of the Maverick Leadership Election.
Both Kreiger and Elgana are from Alberta.