The founder of the ‘Western’ separatism movement is a known far-right reactionary.

According to investigative work done by Anti Racist Canada, the origins of the separatist “Wexit” movement can be traced back to a group of far-right propagandists.

The central figure in the story is Peter Downing. Formerly a candidate for the Christian Heritage Party, Downing redirected his efforts to distributing propaganda following the 2015 election. He would go on to act as the spokesperson for the Prairie Freedom Movement, the precursor to Wexit. During this time, Downing actively spread conspiracy theories, mostly anti-globalist and anti-Islam in nature.

Downing now identifies himself as the Founder of Wexit Alberta and is listed as an administrator on several Wexit social media pages. These pages regularly cross-posts content from far-right pages. Downing and his associates are using this newfound platform to spread dangerous xenophobic and Islamaphobic rhetoric.

Anti-Racist Canada also examined the team of administrators and moderators that manage the main VoteWexit Facebook group. This is the same group that garnered media attention after its membership soared in the wake of the Conservative defeat in the 2019 election. A large proportion of the team has questionable far-right figures and groups. One administrator is personal friends with a number of known hate group members.

These revelations underscore an extra dimension of the Alberta separatism movement which has been largely ignored. Those amplifying separatist sentiments seem to be inextricably tied to the far-right. Moreover, they are undeniably obsessed with conspiracy theories that seek to scapegoat certain demographics for their misfortunes. It appears as though this burgeoning separatist movement is just as much a rejection of multiculturalism and diversity as it is a rejection of climate action.

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