Calgary

4 Conservative MPs warn Alberta separatist movement could rise unless Ottawa fixes 'inequities'

Four Conservative MPs from Alberta have released what they're calling the "Buffalo Declaration," a 13-page notice that calls for "immediate action" from the federal government or else residents of the province will seek separation from Canada.

1 of 4 names attached to 'Buffalo Declaration' released Thursday is Calgary MP Michelle Rempel

Michelle Rempel Garner, the federal Conservative MP for Calgary Nose Hill, said a 'line in the sand must be drawn' on how Alberta is treated in Confederation. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Four Conservative MPs from Alberta have released what they're calling the "Buffalo Declaration," a 13-page notice that calls for "immediate action" from the federal government or else residents of the province will seek separation from Canada.

"We are drawing clear line [sic] in the sand. In this declaration, we set before you the inequities our people face and concrete ideas to rectify them," the document stated. "Immediate action must be taken because we are hearing from many people in our province that they will be equal or they will seek independence."

The Buffalo Declaration name is a nod to a proposed name for Alberta and Saskatchewan while the provinces were still part of what was known as the North-West Territories, before the two joined Confederation in 1905.

The document, which was released Thursday, bears the names of Calgary MP Michelle Rempel, Banff-Airdrie MP Blake Richards, Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner MP Glen Motz and Peace River-Westlock MP Arnold Viersen.

Among other demands, the document called for the federal government to acknowledge the "devastation of the National Energy Program" in the House of Commons and eliminate or phase out equalization in addition to retroactively lifting the cap on the fiscal stabilization fund.

The demands are necessary, the document alleged, because Alberta is "physically and structurally isolated from economic and political power structures."

"Eastern Canada functionally treats Alberta as a colony, rather than an equal partner," the document said.

Separate from Fair Deal panel

This new declaration is separate from the ongoing study being undertaken by the Alberta government, which concluded its tour across the province in late January.

That study, dubbed the Fair Deal panel, is similarly geared towards addressing the province's separatist sentiment. It is due to present its recommendations to government in a report before March 31. 

Nearly 500 people attended the provincial government's Fair Deal panel in Calgary on Dec. 10. Ken Schultz, seen here addressing the panel, said he would consider listening to proposals for Alberta to separate from the rest of Canada. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Despite a shared frustration with Ottawa, the provincial panel is studying whether to withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan, form a provincial police force and establish a formal provincial constitution, among other measures.

Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt said though the two initiatives weren't directly related, they shared similar DNA.

"It's a real hodgepodge of different ideas, and that's why I think you need to put both of those in tandem. One is coming out of the provincial government, the other is coming out of Alberta-based Conservative members," Bratt said. "So the Conservative Party — provincially, federally — they're all trying to come up with different ways of creating greater powers and autonomy for Alberta within Canada.

"But the consequence of that, if these were enacted, would be a country that nobody would recognize."

Though the declaration owes its name to a region that originally included Saskatchewan, the proposals contained within are wholly focused on Alberta, including a demand that the federal government recognize Alberta — "or Buffalo" — as a culturally distinct region within Confederation.

"They talk about repealing any law that Alberta doesn't like," Bratt said. "So it would be independence, in all but name."

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