Even NatPo columnist, Colby Cosh, can't take the Buffalo Declaration seriously.
Alberta or Buffalo? Choose your own adventure? I suppose the revolution is still incomplete in the minds of the authors, too: they have begat a manifesto, but have not quite figured out on whose behalf, precisely, they are speaking. Forgive us, we’re all kind of new at this game of soft nationalism. (Or, rather, at the game of creating a Quebec-style spectrum of nationalisms, ranging from paranoid cranks to grouchy-but-devoted three-quarter federalists.)
It is definitely a logical problem that so much of the declaration is devoted to the proposition that Alberta is culturally distinct from its neighbours — so much so as to permit the sort of political claims and considerations that would ordinarily pertain to a nation. The East, we are told, is full of the descendants of “bankers, lawyers and other capitalists.” Meanwhile, Alberta was being peopled by the wretched of the Earth. “Settlers like the Hungarians, Romanians, Ukrainians, Dutch, Germans, Scots, Chinese, and Icelanders immigrated to Alberta because of poverty, overpopulation and unemployment in their homelands.
It turns out that the people who came from the corners of the Earth to dwell in West Buffalo were sailing into a trap. Their grandchildren and great-grandchildren now find themselves once again bled white by a tsardom’s cold and distant bureaucracy. Look at the language, the particular word choices, at the head of the document. “The economic and social challenges faced by Canada,” we are told, “… are the symptom of the colonial power structures from which Alberta and Saskatchewan were born.” Many Buffalonians “are disconnected from, and feel disrespected by, the power class of the Laurentian consensus.” Alberta faces “systemic inequities.”
No wonder the Buffalovskian mental revolution is tricky. To find a hearing outside Buffalo, its factual basis will have to convince — no easy task, and the authors have not been as careful as they ought. (They hint that Alberta is experiencing a suicide epidemic, but rates are still slightly higher in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and many times higher in the rump Northwest Territories and Nunavut. The SNC-Lavalin mess is characterized as interference in “judicial” rather than prosecutorial independence. There’s a complaint about Alberta “access” to the Parliamentary Press Gallery that is flat-out mysterious.)
But perhaps the main task is to train the Buffalo audience in an unfamiliar and unnatural argot of victimhood, one in which injustices are always “systemic” and change must always be “structural” and you get a failing grade if you go a hundred words without mentioning undifferentiated “power.” If you feel “disrespected,” as we Albertans surely often do, you should immediately take that to be evidence of a conspiracy against your ambitions. And if it should occur to you that one of the signatories of the Buffalo Declaration now protesting perpetual Albertan exclusion from government was a minister of the federal Crown 52 months ago, well, maybe that’s your false consciousness talking.