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RSS FeedsVisionary or villain, hes the pied piper of Albertas Wexit. But is the movement heading in a dangerous direction?
(The Star Toronto Raptors)


10 november 2019 15:56:48

Visionary or villain, hes the pied piper of Albertas Wexit. But is the movement heading in a dangerous direction?
(The Star Toronto Raptors)

EDMONTON—Standing in the Boot Scootin’ Boogie Dancehall, all Peter Downing wants to talk about is Alberta independence.But try as he might, he can’t seem to focus the attention of the journalists who have flanked him.Balding, with a neat beard and glasses, the 37-year-old former RCMP officer would not stick out in most crowds — but he’s here to lead this one. Standing near the bar in an Edmonton Eskimos shirt and a Make Alberta Great Again hat, he surveys the hundreds who have turned out to the Edmonton country-and-western saloon to profess their support for an idea that, before the federal election, might have seemed like a pipe dream.Amidst the cowboy and farmer hats are embroidered caps with the phrases “WEXIT” and “Republic of Alberta”. Some wear them with mini Alberta flags pinned behind the back strap.This crowd is here for a “Wexit” rally. It’s the first such rally since a federal vote that some have blamed for rekindling the spark of Alberta independence.As reporters speak to Downing, their recorders and cameras extended, they’re asking what he obviously sees as the wrong questions — again.They’re interested in his board of directors, and whether his members have ties to white nationalism, Islamophobia and conspiracy theories.“If you guys want to make some kind of story or thing about board of directors, go right ahead,” says Downing, visibly frustrated.“I don’t wanna lose my voice too much so I’ve got to finish my beer and then I’ve got to get to work.” “Go ask these people what they think of me,” he says before heading into the crowd. On this Saturday night in November, “these people” — all 700 of them — are the centre of what some say is a brewing storm of Western alienation in Canada.And Downing is the man vowing to lead them to the promised land. But Downing, who moved here from Ontar ...

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