After the 2019 federal election saw the Justin Trudeau-led Liberal Party reelected to a minority government, political parties calling for the secession of Western Canada were formed in Saskatchewan, Alberta, B.C., and federally.
These parties were created under the name Wexit, or Western Exit, taking inspiration from the name Brexit – British Exit from the European Union.
The federal party and B.C. party still use the Wexit name. In Alberta, the Wexit Party merged with the Freedom Conservative Party to form the Wildrose Independence Party.
In Saskatchewan, the provincial Wexit party announced on July 23 it was changing its name to the Buffalo Party of Saskatchewan. It would also be under new leadership, with Jake Wall stepping down and Wade Sira appointed by the party’s board as its interim leader.
The new leader
Born in Saskatoon, Sira has spent his life in the city and surrounding areas. The press release noted he is a family man, community leader and participates in church activities, service clubs and has coached, refereed and umpired sports in the area.
In 2016, Sira was elected as a municipal council reeve and soon was also appointed a representative with Saskatchewan Advisory of Municipal Assessment (SAMA). He has also been involved at the grass roots level with political organizations, the party’s press release said.
Reached by phone at home in Saskatoon on July 24, Sira is a 37-year-old truck driver, based in Saskatoon.
“Right now, I’m hauling emulsion across Saskatchewan,” he said. “In the wintertime, I haul salt and fertilizer.”
Sira said there was confusion between the federal Wexit party and the provincial one, so “the board decided that there needs to be a membership vote for the name, and a pretty good majority voted in favor of changing the name to Buffalo.”
Sira said between 65 and 70 per cent of the party members voted to change the name to Buffalo.
Buffalo was the name of a proposed province in what was then the Northwest Territories that would have the territory of present-day Alberta and Saskatchewan. In the end, the Wilfrid Laurier Liberal government decided to split that large region into the two provinces as they exist today, which joined confederation in 1905.
“Ever since I was young, I was. I grew up in the time NDP [were] within this province and the Reform Party in Western Canada and the struggle that Western Canada has had,” Sira said. “As I got older, and got more involved in politics, I could see like anybody else in the province I was a fan of Brad Wall. Brad Wall was standing up for Saskatchewan.”
But after the change of leadership within the Sask Party to now-Premier Scott Moe, Sira said he saw the party “change from who they were supposed to be to begin with.”
And then there was a 180 degree change in federal administrations, from the Stephen Harper Conservatives to the Justin Trudeau Liberals.
“We have no representation out West. We're not even getting close to a fair shake. When Quebec, can have their natural resources not part of the equation for equalization payments, but the rest of us all have to toe the line, that we always include our natural resources, that myself, I feel like we're almost a colony of Eastern Canada. We don't get fair representation, but we get sure taxed for it.”
For many in the Wexit movement, the re-election of the Trudeau-led Liberal government was the final straw. It certainly was for Sira.
“It was a feeling of helplessness, that we will not survive out here. I don't want that for my son. I don't want that for his friends, and then, God willing, my grandchildren, and the future generations to have to deal with what is becoming and what will, what has become.
“We will see 50 per cent added to our federal debt and pushed us over a trillion dollars. And how can we ever pay this back? There's only one commodity that we have in Canada that can pay this back and that's oil. And we can't do anything. There's zero drilling going on in Saskatchewan right now.”
Sira said, “Saskatchewan is an economic goldmine, not just for us as Saskatchewan but for Canada, and ever since the days of Wilfrid Laurier he knew that the West potentially could be a powerhouse. And when he drew up destroyed the Northwest Territory in our potential becoming Buffalo, as the province in Canada, and divided us into two.”
He pointed out how Saskatchewan and Alberta, with six senators each, have just a portion of what other provinces are allotted in the Senate.
“First and foremost, the people of this province we live in a democratic country, we live in a democratic process and they have the right to have the referendum, not Moe to tell them that I'm not giving you the right for a referendum.”
As for their goals, he said, “If the people want to leave, and we govern them in the best ability to domestically, we can, for us leave. If they want to stay, then we still want our sovereignty; we still want a fair shake within Canada. We want to have control over own immigration. We want control over more of our natural resources, and to be building these pipelines without having one province hold up the rest of Canada. We want to have pretty much what Quebec was able to obtain within Canada. Why can't we be treated the same way?
“If people want to stay in Canada, then we want to have our own sovereign identity within Canada. If they wanted to leave and we will leave. “
He continued, “I see Alberta, Saskatchewan being the main two to leave first, and then, B.C. and Manitoba, and even the potentially the northern territories.”
He thinks British Columbia might have to be divided up, as there’s too much support for the federal government in the Lower Mainland for that portion of British Columbia to leave.