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Saskatchewan premier sees Buffalo Declaration as another step in escalating western frustration

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner is one of four signatories to the Buffalo Declaration.
Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner is one of four signatories to the Buffalo Declaration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Premier Scott Moe says he hasn’t had time to read a manifesto from four Alberta MPs calling for an increased federal focus on western issues. However, he plans on reading the Buffalo Declaration.

The Buffalo Declaration, named for the proposed province that includes the area of Saskatchewan and Alberta, says Alberta receives “unfair treatment” in Confederation and that the province is a “culturally distinct region” within Canada.

The document was published online Thursday and signed by four Alberta Conservative MPs: Calgary-Nose Hill MP Michelle Rempel Garner, Banff-Airdrie MP Blake Richards, Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner MP Glen Motz and Peace River-Westlock MP Arnold Viersen.

READ MORE: Alberta MPs issue Buffalo Declaration to call on Ottawa to address western alienation

“I would just say this, with respect to my first glance at it. It speaks to the frustration that we’ve been seeing in western Canada with a number of policies that are coming out of our federal government over the course of the last four years,” Moe said during a press conference on Friday.

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“It speaks to the frustration that we saw manifest itself in the results of the election evening — at the federal election, where the now-minority administration received no representation in Alberta or Saskatchewan with the minority Liberal government.”

The Buffalo Declaration talks about perceived inequalities faced by Alberta through federal policies like equalization and former prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s National Energy Program.

The declaration makes several demands, including a revision to equalization, to constitutionally entrench resource projects solely in the provincial domain, and to recognize Alberta as a distinct region within Canada.

Western alienation: the divide between Alberta, Saskatchewan and the rest of Canada
Western alienation: the divide between Alberta, Saskatchewan and the rest of Canada

The authors warn that without changes, a separation vote in Alberta is inevitable.

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“Structural, constitutional change must happen within Confederation or a referendum on Alberta’s independence is an inevitability,” it reads.

Moe has yet to read the 13-page document due to being busy setting up meetings with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss the Wet’suwet’en protests.

READ MORE: Buffalo Declaration: A deeper look at the latest display of Alberta’s discontent

However, he’s no stranger himself to making demands of Ottawa. He called for a “new deal with Canada” the day after the Oct. 21 federal election. This called for an end to the carbon tax and a renegotiation of equalization.

“This is just another step, I think, in that escalating frustration in western Canada with respect to federal policies like Bill C-48, the west coast tanker ban, and federal policies like the carbon taxation,” Moe said.

Moe’s predecessor, Brad Wall, tweeted that Rempel and her colleagues deserve credit for the declaration.

“There needs to be national attention to and action on the abiding unfairness in the confederation toward Alberta, Saskatchewan and the west in general,” Wall tweeted Thursday.

— With files from Global News’ Phil Heidenreich