The province’s first Maverick Party electoral district association has been established in the Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa federal riding.
Don Armitage was established as president, and the association’s board of six people met visually for the first time last week.
A semi-retired farmer from Miniota, Armitage said he was a longtime Conservative Party of Canada member before shifting to Maverick.
"Things were going well when Stephen Harper was the leader, but things started going downhill when Andrew Scheer took over, and they’ve gone well downhill when Erin O’Toole took over," he said.
"The last straw" was when O’Toole went back on his word and introduced a carbon tax to their platform, which Armitage said the Maverick Party will not do.
What little climate change is human-caused is not worth upending the economy over, he said.
Already a believer Western Canada would be far better off as its own country, Armitage said the western focus of the Maverick Party appealed to him.
"Ultimately, I think you could think of the Maverick Party as being the western equivalent of Bloc Québécois," he said.
"Western separation isn’t the first thing we’re going to go for, but ultimately we need it as a hammer if we can’t get a better deal."
Chief complaints regarding the federal government include the equalization program that draws wealth from the west to serve the east and an electoral system stacked more heavily out east.
"I see the east becoming more socialist all the time and more dependent on big government," Armitage said.
"Especially with Justin Trudeau. He’s pushing for big government and authoritarian-type government."
The goal moving forward is to grow membership throughout the Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa riding and establish a candidate in time for the next federal election.
The hope, too, is that more electoral district associations will be set up in Manitoba’s rural areas.
Although they remain ambitious, Armitage said he recognizes the party will be a tougher sell in Manitoba, which benefits from the federal equalization program, than it is in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan.
"We don’t have as many grievances as Alberta by a long shot," he said.
Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa is currently served by Conservative MP Dan Mazier.
The 44th federal election is scheduled to take place on or before Oct. 16, 2023.
» Twitter: @TylerClarkeMB