Southeast Rocky View County resident Orrin Bliss is entering the political realm as the Maverick Party's candidate in the Bow River riding.
Bliss, who lives on a property between Langdon and Chestermere, said “intense disappointment” with the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) led to his involvement with the Maverick Party – a right-wing party focused strictly on western issues.
“[The CPC] have suffered from milquetoast leadership for a while now,” Bliss said, adding CPC Leader Erin O’Toole’s lack of support for the Energy East pipeline project was what drove him to pursue involvement with a different party.
“When he reneged on the no-carbon-tax pledge he signed, I knew he couldn’t be trusted by us in the west.”
The Maverick Party formed in 2020 out of the #Wexit movement that emerged following the 2019 federal election. According to their website, the Maverick Party is only fielding candidates in western provinces, in ridings that already have strong conservative support.
The party’s platform centres on support for pipelines, a renegotiation of the formula for provincial equalization payments, the repeal of a carbon tax and loosened gun control. Bliss said the Maverick Party also opposes Bill C-69 and Bill C-48, which relate to federal oversight over pipelines and an oil tanker moratorium off the west coast.
While the date of a next federal election is still undetermined, political speculation is that an election could be called as early as this fall. Bliss said the Maverick Party is preparing for that scenario.
“We’re following the lead of Justin Trudeau and Erin O’Toole in their obviously blatant campaign trips out west,” he said. “We’re also way behind the eight ball compared to the other parties in that we’re less than a year old and not very well known. And in addition to being less than a year old, for a significant portion of that year, we were known as Wexit.”
The party’s candidate in the other federal riding in Rocky View County is Airdrie resident Tariq Elnaga, who is representing the party in the Banff-Airdrie riding.
Though the Maverick Party has been touted as a separatist group, Bliss said the primary goal is not necessarily to separate from Canada, but rather “fix confederation” and forge a better deal for western Canadians with the federal government.
“I don’t think Mavericks hate Canada,” he said. “We just want a better deal for western Canada. We don’t like to use the word separation. Independence is the word we like to use, and that’s just in case we’re not taken seriously. If eastern Canada won’t come to the table, we intend to pursue track B, which is being an independent nation.”In terms of his career background, Bliss said he has worked in the oil and gas industry for much of his life, starting in entry level positions on drilling rigs and working his way up to senior management roles. He said his experience managing large-scale projects would make him a suitable candidate for public office.
“I’ve managed budgets in excess of $100 million,” he said. “I’m also considered an expert witness [and subject matter expert] in the industry. I’ve worked on cases that went to courts of law.”
Outside of work, Bliss said one of his passions is raising money for various causes, whether it’s a children’s hospital or a bursary program for higher education opportunities.
“I’ve been fairly active in the community, I just haven’t been overtly active in the community,” he said. “I’ve been the guy who works behind the scenes.”