COCHRANE— Holding their inaugural annual general meeting, the Wildrose Independence Party of Alberta Airdrie-Cochrane constituency met at the Frank Willis Memorial Hall on Friday (Nov. 6).
The Wildrose Independence Party of Alberta registered as a political party on June 29. The party is currently putting together policies for the provincial annual general meeting on Jan. 23, 2021.
The Wildrose Party's platform is centred on 14 principals— Asserting the independence of the province and redefining the relationship with Canada, affirming individual freedoms and rights, establishing an Alberta Police Force, Revenue Agency, Alberta Pension Plan, Alberta Employment Insurance Plan, Alberta immigration policy and Alberta Environmental Act, continuing to develop natural resources responsibly, developing new trade agreements with provinces and nations, developing high quality and immediate access to healthcare, developing a unique Alberta education system, creating a Constitution of Alberta and holding an independence referendum.
Interim party leader Paul Hinman was on hand to speak to a crowd of about 30 people outlying the vision for the newly established party.
“There has to be a fiscal responsibility. To me, a government has to be like an individual corporation and you can't spend more than you’ve got going in," Hinman said. “The other problem is there’s nothing worse, I think, for individuals to grow to maturity and be accountable and responsible citizens than to have no accountability and no responsibility and that’s what, I say, we have in our current system.”
An emphasis needs to be placed on celebrating individual freedoms, a right not being honoured by the federal government, Hinman said, adding that the current Canadian constitution encourages “the tyranny of the majority.”
Hinman said in his opinion current federal policies directly harm Alberta.
He noted there are “two elephants in the room” that are difficult to talk about— The huge fiscal imbalance created by federal equalization payments that fund programs that are not in the interest of the province, and the province's place as “second-class” citizens because the province does not control its natural resources due to the Environmental Act.
“We know how to keep our house in order, we know how to look after our Earth, we know how to look after our water, we know how to look after our air. We certainly don’t need Ottawa telling us that we don’t— We’re doing a better job than they are," Hinman said. “The rules are not equal so we need to stand up and say no."
To rectify this situation it will be essential to create a unique Alberta constitution, he said, because the province can no longer afford the "membership" they pay to be a part of Canada.
“A new Wildrose Independence Party will produce the best constitution that has ever been produced on the earth before that will protect the individual's life, the individual's freedom, the individual's property and the individual's pursuit of happiness,” Hinman said. “We don't want a paternal government that tells us what to do from cradle to grave— We want an independent Alberta.”
Hinman said becoming a sovereign nation is the only path forward for the province because of “the broken and dysfunctional relationship” with Canada.
The key, he said, will be taking responsibility for the province and one of the steps he would like to see happen is holding provincial and municipal elections every two years to ensure politicians remain accountable to Albertans. This will also include a vote for the people of Alberta to decide if they want to be a sovereign nation after 2023, if the party is able to gain power.
“I have great faith in Albertans that when that referendum comes they’ll make the right choice for a sovereign nation,” Hinman said. “We’ll be a beacon of freedom and prosperity around the world and I think Alberta will overwhelmingly by that point be voting 60, 70, 75 per cent saying, ‘You know what we need to be our own nation.’”
Alberta is a resource-rich province with agriculture and land, quality post-secondary options for education and quality health care that will support a constitutional democracy based on the rule of law, he said. Hinman added these factors paired with limited regulations give Alberta the opportunity to “become the centre of capital around the world."
He added to achieve sovereignty the party will need to work with First Nations in the province. He envisions that Indigenous people will support the need for independence because of the terrible treatment they have received from Canada.
“I think we can present a future to them that is much brighter," Hinman said. “They’ll own their own land, they’ll have to say over their own land and they won’t have a paternalistic federal government.”
Former Peoples Party of Canada candidate Nadine Wellwood said the party is a grassroots movement and it will take everyone associated with the Wildrose to recruit new members and help the party grow in Alberta.
“We can do this,” Wellwood said. “I think the key is we can all agree whether you’re a 51st state, whether your independence, whether your full-on separation there are key things that have to happen before we can really have any of that conversation.”
It does not matter if people are Liberal, NDP or UCP, she said, because all Albertans are fed up with the current situation they face, she said.
“The status quo is not acceptable and we need change."
That drive for change brought people out to vote for premier Jason Kenney, she said, and the hope is the Wildrose will push the premier to pursue embrace radical change for the province.
“If he’s not willing to do that, awesome, great we’ll be here to fill those shoes,” Wellwood said.
At the end of the meeting, the Cochrane-Airdrie Wildrose party unanimously elected eight new board members. It was the most ballots cast and largest starting board for the organization to date.