Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Having been part of starting a new political movement with the Reform Party in the 1980s, Jay Hill is no stranger to the work it takes to get a new political party up and running.
This fall marks 11 months of existence for the Maverick Party, born in the seeds of frustration sewn by the Wexit movement two years ago. They have 30 candidates running, and all of them are in Conservative strongholds.
“We’re only running in strong conservative ridings,” Hill said. Asked if they are targeting the United Conservatives first, Hill did not answer specifically but said “all of us want to see the end of Trudeau. We want to see him going down the road.”
Hill came out of retirement after years in politics to start the Maverick Party. He said they have been working seven days a week to get some momentum in an election he sees as pointless.
“We are working eight or nine hours a day now and we weren’t working much less before the campaign because we saw this coming,” he said at a campaign event hosted by Prince Albert riding candidate Heather Schmitt on Sunday, August 29.
Hill has little intention of staying at the helm of the fledgling political party.
“My hope is that after we get through the campaign, a number of these younger candidates are going to come to the forefront – as they should. It’s their names that are going to be on the ballot, not mine,” Hill said. “My anticipation is shortly after the election campaign, I’ll step aside as interim leader and we’ll have a leadership race.”
Hill is hopeful three or four candidate will step up for permanent leadership of the party.
Working on the creation of a new party is a step back in time for Hill to his days getting the Reform Party going. For him, the biggest issue then and the biggest issue now is the level of federal debt.
“It’s like déjà vu, really, all over again,” he said. “The personal irony for me is that I left the family farm in the mid 1980s as a Reform member and I was doing it largely out of concern for my three young children. Now, I’ve come out of retirement and launched Maverick out of concern for my three young grandchildren.”
“The similarities are stark. My primary concern is this explosive growth of debt and the ongoing deficits and the fact that people east of Manitoba don’t seem to care. They think we can just keep printing money. That’s not true in the Prairie West.”
The Prairie West he refers to is Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and his home territory in northern British Columbia, Fort St. John.
“Most people there tend to be fiscal conservatives. No matter how much they are on the progressive side on social issues, fiscally they believe that you spend what you make and you live within your means,” said Hill.
He credits the Jean Chretien and Paul Martin Liberal governments of the day for balancing spending and running budget surpluses while also paying down debt but has serious concern over the current incarnation of the Liberal Party.
“My concern now is we’ve got the second Trudeau who is blowing hundreds of billions of dollars. We’re now in excess of a trillion dollars in debt. So I have those identical concerns about those levels of debt and what it will mean for my grandchildren,” Hill said.
Along with higher taxes, he thinks his grandchildren will also see lower standard of living, higher inflation and higher interest rates.
“They’re not going to have the same opportunities as you and I have had in our adult lifetime. You can see that happening. And that’s why most people are saying enough,” stated Hill. “We’ve got to start looking after Western Canada.”
With no chance of becoming a government with only 30 candidates, Hill said they would consider the election a success with a handful of candidates being seated in the House of Commons after Sept. 20.
“Maverick’s only been around for 11 months. If we could elect any candidate, it would be phenomenal,” he said.
With limited candidates, the party had to be very specific in which ridings it targeted to run in, a move seen in Saskatchewan in the last provincial election with the Buffalo Party.
They don’t want to split votes in ridings that could end up with an NDP candidate winning as a result, Hill said.
Photo Susan McNeil
Jay Hill, interim leader of the Maverick Party spoke at barrel racing event hosted by riding candidate Heather Schmitt in Prince Albert on Aug. 29.