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Former Harper government House leader becomes interim leader of Wexit Canada

A veteran politician who once served as House leader in Stephen Harper’s Conservative government was named the interim leader of a political party seeking for Western Canada to secede from the rest of the country.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Wexit Canada posted on its Facebook page that Peter Downing had resigned as leader and that Jay Hill would take over in the interim.

“[He] will assume these responsibilities until the party is able to hold a founding convention and the grassroots members elect a new leader,” the party said.

Wexit Canada is not yet a registered political party but Elections Canada lists it as an “eligible political party” on its website, meaning the party has met the legal requirements to be registered except for running a candidate in a general election or by-election.

Hill was first elected federally as a Reform Party MP in 1993 during “the West wants in” days and later sat in the House of Commons as a Conservative MP.

He told Global News on Tuesday night that he hopes to convince a majority of people in Western Canada, from Manitoba to British Columbia, that the west will never get fair treatment from the rest of Canada.

“Over the last decade, since I left federal politics, I have watched with great dismay the state of our country — of Canada — and most recently, over the last five years or so since Justin Trudeau took the reins as our leader, I have been absolutely appalled at the scandal after scandal that has rocked his government,” Hill said. “And yet the people of Central Canada have re-elected this person.

“I see billions of dollars leaving the country, I see massive unemployment in the west and an uncaring attitude from Central Canada and so I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no longer a home for westerners in Canada.”

At a Wexit Alberta meeting in Calgary last summer, he said people should take the Western separatist movement seriously.

“I believe the polls that about 25 per cent of Albertans are supportive of separating as of the moment, but I also agree that it could double easily that number if Justin Trudeau was re-elected on Oct. 21,” Hill told Global News at the time.

Wexit’s platform includes plans to hold referendums on separating the Western provinces from the rest of Canada as well as to fight the carbon tax, Bill C-48 and Bill C-69 — which critics accuse of hampering Canada’s energy sector — and barriers to free trade.

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