A group of four Albertan, Conservative Members of Parliament have signed the “Buffalo Declaration,” which demands a series of reforms to the Canadian constitutional arrangement.
The four MPs are Michelle Rempel Garner, Blake Richards, Glen Motz, and Arnold Viersen. They are asking for the federal government to recognize Alberta or the Buffalo region as a “culturally distinct region within Confederation.”
The Buffalo Declaration says, “the Eastern political and business class never intended for Alberta to be equal in Confederation. They intended for us to be a colony, providing wealth and raw resources without having an equal share in prosperity and power.”
The Buffalo Declaration’s demand to be recognized as “culturally distinct” echoes to what Quebec similarly demanded in the late 1980s and early 1990s during constitutional discussions. In this, la belle province asked for Ottawa to recognize it as a “distinct society.” This was, however, a largely symbolic gesture.
The Buffalo Declaration is also demanding that there should be balanced representation in parliament. As a result of Canada’s first-past-the-post voting system, Ontario and Quebec receive a substantial number of seats in the Canadian House of Commons—leading to allegations of disproportionate representation.
More startlingly, however, the Buffalo Declaration is demanding a series of reforms in the Constitutional arrangement that they see as necessary for equity between the provinces.
They have, for instance, demanded that the federal government should recognize the “the devastation the National Energy Program caused to the people of Alberta.” As well as this, they want to see more power given to Alberta in their taxes, cross-provincial funding, and trade sovereignty.
“The status quo of the Equalization program is fueling western alienation,” They said. “An immediate change to the Equalization program should include treating all resource revenues in each province/territory the same under the program.”
So far, this manifesto has only been signed by four Members of Parliament—despite Alberta having 25 members in the House of Commons. Nevertheless, it highlights the sheer degree of discontent that Western Canada has in their relationship with Justin Trudeau’s Ottawa.