Conservative Alberta MPs raise spectre of Western separation with ‘Buffalo Declaration’
|Toronto Star 21 Feb 2020 at 09:00|
EDMONTON—Calgary MP Michelle Rempel Garner is one of four Conservative Alberta MPs who have thrown their support behind a new movement called the Buffalo Declaration, which frames western isolation as a “crisis.”
The Buffalo Declaration — named after the proposed province that would have merged Alberta and Saskatchewan when they were still part the Northwest Territories — charges that Alberta is not and has never been an equal participant in confederation and that the federal government treats Alberta with disdain.
It contends that Alberta was intentionally physically and structurally separated from the base of power in Canada and asks that the federal government recognize the province as a “culturally distinct region within Confederation.”
“Eastern Canada functionally treats Alberta as a colony, rather than an equal partner,” the website reads.
Lori Williams, a policy studies professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary, called the declaration “sort of wing-nutty” and said it “reflects a failure to understand” the constitution of the country.
“This is really inflammatory stuff,” she said. “I’m just a bit surprised that all of these folks aren’t seeing that the more aggressive rhetoric … is likely associated with the reduced support for the (oil and gas) industry and for pipelines.
“This isn’t inviting, it’s not persuasive, it’s demanding, it’s entitled.”
Williams pondered if it could be about another leadership candidate entering the race to lead the Conservatives, but said it’s “very late in the game” to put together a campaign.
Rempel tweeted a link to the declaration’s website , adding “Alberta is not, and never has been, an equal partner in Confederation. The people of my province are suffering and need real, structural change. A line in the sand must be drawn.”
The other Alberta MPs supporting the declaration who are listed on the website are Banff-Airdrie MP Blake Richards, Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner MP Glen Motz and Peace River-Westlock MP Arnold Viersen.
Among the Buffalo Declaration’s solutions to the perceived inequity are rejigging Parliament to provide Alberta with fairer representation, ensuring resource projects are the sole domain of each province in the constitution and acknowledging the “devastation” the National Energy Program caused to Albertans.