A Conversation With The Leader Of The Maverick Party
We Spoke To Jay Hill
March 1st, 2021 | JH
Jay Hill has a long history of shaking things up and thinking for himself. As a Member of Parliament for the Reform Party, and then the Canadian Alliance, and then the Conservative Party of Canada… he has seen it all. Now he’s onto the most important project of his career: leading the Maverick Party, which purports to offer Western Canadians true representation in Ottawa.
If you’re disgusted with Trudeau’s Liberals and voting for Erin O’Toole’s Conservatives just seems like the same old story, maybe it’s time for something different. We sat down with Jay Hill and talked about Western Canada’s raw deal in Canada and what the Maverick Party plans to do about it.
Poletical: You’ve stated that after helping to start the Reform Party, it was a mistake to expand the party from coast-to-coast. Why was that?
Jay Hill: When I retired from Federal politics, I reflected back over my 17-year tenure as a Member of Parliament, it was pretty clear that we had to select our words carefully, because we didn’t want to restrict our appeal in Quebec or urban Ontario. All national parties have that dilemma.
We wanted to try to represent the oil and gas industry for example. We were trying to represent that industry and the millions of people who work in that industry all across the country. But we also had to be a voice for the people of Central Canada and deal with their concerns for climate change.
The way Canada is structured under our archaic constitution, it prevents accurate representation of Western Canada. As soon as you become a national party, you’ll have to water down regional representation in order to appeal to people from Toronto and Montreal.
Poletical: So, what’s the fundamental problem?
Jay Hill: We do not have any element in our government that can represent the lesser populated regions of our country. I’m thinking specifically of our Senate. We should have an elected and equal Senate like the United States and Australia. They have the credibility and ability to override the representation by population in the lower house.
We don’t have that and the minute a political party expands and tries to appeal across the country and chase the most votes, they can no longer represent the regional interests.
This spawns parties like the Bloc Quebecois and now the Maverick Party. We’ll only run candidates in the West and we’re committed to accurately reflecting the best interests of the West.
Poletical: Progressives love majority rule, and we hear in the US about how people want to abolish the electoral college in order to make democracy more representative. Is this just another take on democracy or is this a flaw in democracy itself?
Jay Hill: It’s definitely a flaw in democracy when true representation by population means that one region of the country, due to its larger population and thereby the power of the number of seats it holds in the legislature, can operate with impunity in restricting the growth and aspirations and dreams of the lesser populated regions.
We’re always going to have this because there are no checks and balances.
The best example of this recently is bill C-48 (No oil tankers off of BC coast) and bill C-69 (No more pipelines). These bills were passed by Mr. Trudeau and they are clearly detrimental to Alberta and Saskatchewan. It is my belief that we would have had the opportunity to block or amend this legislation if we had a triple-E Senate. We could have protected our lesser populated regions.
I’ve always been opposed a unicameral system that functions as the tyranny of the majority.
Poletical: Senate reform is a priority then?
Jay Hill: Our current Senate is a farce. I would question what good the Senate does. One of the primary functions is to provide a sober second look at legislation, but it does no good if you don’t have the credibility of being elected or accountable.
As people know, Senators are appointed until age 75 and they operate in a vacuum where they aren’t accountable to anybody and they don’t look out for the less populated regions of the country like Alberta.
Poletical: I like the twin-track approach of the Maverick Party, in that Western independence is on the table, but in the meantime, you’re going to forgo the “nice guy conservative” model of politics and offer something more self-interested.
Jay Hill: We want to elect members of Parliament that will operate very similar to the Bloc Quebecois. The Bloc has clearly said over its lifetime that their strategy in Parliament is that if it is good for Quebec, they will vote for it and if it is not, they will vote against it.
That’s what the Maverick Party will do for the West.
We’ll show Westerners what it’s like to finally have true representation and take positions on motions that need not be watered down in a compromise to attract votes in Central Canada.
Poletical: The other part of the twin track is separation.
Jay Hill: The history of dissent, whether protest movements or movements that spawned political parties in the West, the common sense is that we have been treated poorly, unfairly and inequitably. In the past we’ve suggested changes within confederation and offered improvements to modernize the constitution.
They just ignore it.
Unlike previous efforts, the Maverick Party is not going to sit still. We want to elect Maverick members as a first step towards working with Western provinces in order to achieve independence down the road.
(article continues after ads)
Poletical: Is the Maverick Party a “conservative” party?
Jay Hill: I think we can attract anybody that cares about the bad deal that the West has had ever since confederation. We welcome everyone, but our focus is on the best interests of the West.
In the case of prairie conservatives, they would say that when we have Conservative governments in Ottawa, we get better government, not perfect, but better. When we have a Liberal government, they use and abuse the West for the purpose of appealing to their base.
If you want this constant recycling of governments then keep voting for the same.
Poletical: This sounds a bit like Max Bernier talking about “The LibCon” party.
Jay Hill: Not exactly. If Erin O’Toole were to win a majority government, we’d definitely have better government than what we have today under Mr. Trudeau.
On the fundamental issues, and Max Bernier is no different, no one is going to constantly and consistently push to fix the underlying issues that create this inequity. The Maverick Party is the only party that will be raising these concerns in a manner that will force it onto the government’s agenda regardless of whether it’s run by Conservatives or Liberals.
Poletical: Why did the Western separatist parties in the early 80s fade away and how is Maverick going to avoid this fate?
Jay Hill: Part of the problem was leadership and more importantly credibility. All too often the parties have self-destructed either because of internal tensions between different factions within the parties themselves, or by the parties taking positions that alienated large portions of the electorate.
We are trying our best to avoid those mistakes. Obviously, any new party in a growth phase is subject to people coming on board that can create problems. You try to avoid that.
More importantly we need to avoid taking positions on controversial issues that may alienate half the electorate. We’ve purposely structured our guiding principles towards all Westerners that believe in the fundamental power and common-sense of free enterprise.
Yes, that will alienate socialists, but we’re not socialists.
We’ve only been around for six months, so we’ll see how we do.
Poletical: Regarding Western independence, one thing that is rarely mentioned anymore is the role of the FLQ in the Quebec separatist movement. With the rise of extremist events that we’ve seen in the U.S. such as the events at the Capitol building in January and the Black Lives Matter riots last summer, is there any consideration for the Maverick Party being one last attempt at a legitimate solution to Western alienation in order to stave off the development of something problematic?
Jay Hill: We haven’t specifically discussed issues like that at the board level at Maverick in the sense of trying to thwart any move to a more volatile solution to the West’s problems, but I think you have to face it, there are people that are becoming frustrated, whether they’re serious or not who knows, to the point of advocating violence. That’s not something that the Maverick Party would ever support or condone.
We are putting forward what we believe is a common-sense, forward looking strategy that will address the inherit unfairness of our situation and begin laying the foundations for an independent West. Both of these goals are being advocated for by using legal and peaceful means.
Poletical: As you gain traction there’s going to be a lot of mudslinging coming your way. Are you prepared for it?
Jay Hill: The birth and growth of Maverick is not unlike the Reform Party in the mid-80’s. I was involved with building the party up in northeastern British Columbia and we were attacked viciously. I remember Shelia Copps* accused Preston Manning of being the David Duke of Canada.
*Editors note: Shelia Copps was a Liberal MP who “lost” her position in 2004 during a controversial nomination contest.
There were a lot of completely unfounded and viscous attacks against Reformers. We were called extremists and racists and you name it. Today, it’s much worse because it’s instantaneous and with social media it becomes widespread.
Poletical: One advantage with social media is that you can get your side of the story out much easier. The mainstream media can play gatekeeper.
Jay Hill: I was just reading this morning that the mainstream media is looking for another handout from taxpayers. Where does this end?
Poletical: People still don’t seem to question the legitimacy of a media that accepts all these subsidies.
Jay Hill: Some people do, especially in the West. As is the case with so many issues, we in the West see things differently and Central Canada seems tuned out.
For example, how can Central Canadian people be so out of touch and uncaring and hypocritical that they fill up their cars with gas from countries that beat their women with sticks, but they turn up their nose at Western Canadian “dirty oil”.
How is that possible in an educated population?
Poletical: Why is it possible?
Jay Hill: I have no idea. People tell me that not everyone is like that, but until I see people down there protesting at the gas pumps against Saudi Arabian and Russian oil coming into Canada and championing Canadian ethical oil instead, then I’ll believe that people in Central Canada actually care.
" I think we can attract anybody that cares about the bad deal that the West has had ever since con-federation."
Poletical: Don’t hold your breath.
Jay Hill: Exactly. All these tree hugging, leftist, green-type people that turn up their nose at our oil and gas industry in Western Canada and seem to be supporting the Liberal efforts to kill this industry, why aren’t they concerned about where the oil is coming from and the labour standards and environmental standards regarding Middle Eastern oil?
How is it possible to be that two-faced?
Poletical: It’s frustrating too, because pointing out hypocrisy doesn’t seem to matter.
Jay Hill: Part of the problem is that the media doesn’t cover it. Other than Rex Murphy, people don’t get confronted with these issues.
Poletical: Western Canadians are so baffled and disgusted by the Trudeau Liberals that they are desperate to get rid of them and are terrified of splitting the vote and allowing them another term. I know you guys have a plan to avoid that. What can you tell me about it?
Jay Hill: I experienced this firsthand because I was elected in 1993 and saw three majority governments won by Jean Chretien. That was due to vote splitting in Ontario where Reform split the vote with the PCs and allowed Liberals to run up the middle.
That won’t happen with us, because we’re not going to run in Ontario.
Erin O’Toole and his Conservative candidates east of Manitoba will have a clear run. The only competition on the right will be the People’s Party of Canada and I think the bloom has worn off of Maxime Bernier’s rose. He hasn’t done well in the past and I don’t think he’ll do well in the future.
That eliminates two-thirds of the ridings in which we will not be splitting the vote.
There are 104 ridings in Western Canada and we’ve determined that there are 49 ridings in which the Conservative vote is so massive that even if you split the Conservative vote in half, none of the left-wing party candidates can win. Of the 49 ridings, there are 35 ridings that are so dominated by the Conservative vote that it would be virtually impossible for a Liberal, NDP or Green win.
Those are the ridings we are focusing on.
We have 9 electoral district associations that are currently organized. We’re putting together campaign teams and recruiting candidates. So, in those ridings, voters will have two main choices. Do they want to send their incumbent Conservative MP back to Ottawa or do they want to try the Maverick strategy?
Poletical: You live in the Calgary-Centre riding…
Jay Hill: We won’t run a candidate here, because if we did the chances are too high that a Liberal will get elected.
Poletical: Who’s the MP there now?
Jay Hill: Greg McLean. It’s his first term. The MP before that was Kent Hehr.*
*Editors note: Kent Hehr was the Liberal who “resigned” his cabinet position due to sexual harassment allegations in 2018 and lost his seat in 2019.
So, we want to avoid running candidates in close ridings.
Poletical: People are still going to claim you’re splitting the vote.
Jay Hill: The attack is going to come in the next election from the Conservative Party. I lived through this once before in 1988. The Reform Party was less than one year old, and we ran in 1988. I was one of 72 candidates and we didn’t win a single riding.
The vote-splitting fear was used by Brian Mulroney and it was a very successful tactic.
Erin O’Toole may be successful in scaring Western voters into staying with his party instead of voting for Maverick. Our challenge is to present Maverick in such a way that it will make people think about what they’re doing.
In 2019 Alberta and Saskatchewan, with one exception, elected Conservatives in every riding and what good did it do you?
Poletical: That’s a very strong argument.
Jay Hill: A couple of elections from now we could wipe out Conservatives just like we did in 1993, but we’re not running against Erin O’Toole or Conservatives…hell we’re not even running against Justin Trudeau…we’re running against the system.
Poletical: Stephen Harper is a good example of the futility of the system.
Jay Hill: The system is unfair to our region, our community and our people. If you want to change the system you have to start somewhere. Things will never change under the current system.
If it couldn’t change under Stephen Harper, a reformer who was rooted in the West, was an MP from Calgary, was the first and last Reform member in the Prime Minister’s Office, then what in heaven’s name makes you think Erin O’Toole will change anything?
It won’t happen.
© 2021 Poletical