Political staffers driving into work at Alberta’s legislative assembly on Monday should prepare themselves to come face to face with Donald Trump.
The Alberta USA Foundation, a public action committee led by Wexit co-founder Peter Downing, has paid for a billboard on 109 Street near Jasper Avenue which features a photo of the American president and asks the question: “Should Alberta join the U.S.?”
Downing believes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s vision for Canada is going to “spell our economic death in Alberta” and that joining the United States would solve Alberta’s economic and political problems.
He said the billboard, which will be up by Monday morning, is designed to make Albertans aware of their options if they choose independence from Canada.
“Once the billboards launch we’ll have achieved our goal, just like when we launched our Should Alberta Ditch Canada billboards last year,” Downing said Friday.
“Simply put, it was a far out concept just last February, but now Western separatism and Alberta separatism, Alberta independence, is very, very mainstream, and it was designed that way … and the American statehood option is designed exactly the same way.”
On its website the Alberta USA Foundation argues that America “has all the freedom, job prospects, and investment capital” Albertans want.
“Here’s your choice, accept Canada’s socialist Green New Deal … or have everything that we want, but we just have a different flag by the legislature,” Downing said.
He said America would want Alberta because of its oil reserves as well as benefits geopolitically, including getting them closer to a foothold in the Arctic.
The billboard, along with a matching one in Ottawa, will be up for a week, Downing said, adding that he has donations to pay for more in the future.
A recent poll showed that 20 per cent of Albertans think the separation of Western provinces from the rest of the country is a good idea and 26 per cent more could “live with it.”
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has been accused by the Opposition of stoking separatist sentiment but has publicly spoken out against the idea of Alberta leaving Canada.
Downing does not seem concerned with the premier’s position.
“If there’s something that those in the political right and the political left in Alberta both agree on, it is that Jason Kenney is not doing a good job for Albertans,” he said.
Mount Royal University associate professor Lori Williams said the idea of Alberta leaving the country to become part of the United States is unlikely to get much traction, but anger from Albertans who feel like they are not getting enough from Ottawa could lead to voters peeling away from both the UCP and mainstream federal parties.
Earlier this year the Freedom Conservative Party of Alberta and Wexit Alberta merged into a new party called the Wildrose Independence Party of Alberta.