Cue the violins!
No one does victimhood like an Alberta Conservative contemplating the prospect of another term in Opposition overlooking the Ottawa River.
Michelle Rempel Garner, the Blocker Queen of Twitter and Conservative MP for the monochromatic suburban wasteland of Calgary Nose Hill, apparently wants us to think she is the Pierre Vallières of Wild Rose Country with a formula to make us Albertans not only maîtres chez nous, but masters of your house too!
Best known hitherto for her unrepentant inclination to block any citizen who complains about anything she says on social media, Rempel Garner has even earned her own hashtag: #BlockedByRempel. Nevertheless, she is the most prominent of the four Conservative Alberta MPs who signed the so-called Buffalo Declaration that’s been getting so much undeserved attention from our credulous local journos.
The other three?
Two you’ve likely never heard of. Glen Motz, an ex-cop and bible college graduate who represents Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner in Alberta’s deep south, may not have said much of note in the House, but he looks like a handy guy to have around if you need to get troublemakers to move along. Speaking of which, Banff-Airdrie MP Blake Richards, a former real estate sales agent and the Opposition tourism critic, was once kicked out of the House of Commons for “excessive heckling.”
The third, Arnold Viersen, MP for Peace River-Westlock in the province’s northwest, is slightly better known thanks to the question he recently asked Victoria MP Laurel Collins, a New Democrat. To wit, he wondered, had she ever considered sex work as a career? Viersen, who is obviously not the sharpest knife in the parliamentary cafeteria, posed this question in the House of Commons as the cameras rolled.
Well, I guess we don’t need to line the Gang of Four up in front of a magic mirror to tell which one is the dimmest of them all!
The Buffalo Declaration — presumably intended to be a more radical successor to Stephen Harper’s pre-prime-ministerial Firewall Manifesto, the independantiste jeremiad sensibly spiked by premier Ralph Klein in 2001 — is a 6,000-word screed of astonishing twaddle.
Even the journalists busy promoting it in the right-wing echo chamber of Alberta’s media backhandedly acknowledge this with their warnings we may disagree, or even think it’s utterly ridiculous, but we daren’t laugh out loud for fear Confederation will be lost.
The main message of the Buffalo Declaration is poor us!
Never mind that we’re still the richest province in the country, according to the declaration we’re the biggest victims of Confederation, right from the get-go when the “ruling Laurentian power class” wouldn’t even let us control our own resources! (Never mind that they did in 1930, and we’ve grown fat on the plunder pretty well ever since.)
The Buffalo Declaration’s thumbnail history of the region is intentionally misleading, often flatly dishonest. It takes its name from the early 20th-century proposal for a larger province on the Prairies called Buffalo, but glosses over the more nuanced reasons that didn’t come about.
It perpetuates the false narrative about prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s 1980 National Energy Program infant Albertans take in with their mama’s milk — and it has the cheek to demand that the House of Commons acknowledge this partisan fantasy as fact!
It also demands parliamentary recognition of the highly dubious claims “Alberta is not an equal partner in Confederation” and is “a culturally distinct region within Confederation.”
In other words, with breathtaking is chutzpah, elected members of the party that recently ran the Dominion for a decade and ran Alberta for most of the past half century blame everyone else past and present for a situation largely of their own creation.
The Gang of Four’s core message: Make the rest of Canada be more like Alberta, right now. Or else!
Even Alberta’s representation-by-depopulation formula that lets rural ridings call the shots in Edmonton must be duplicated nationwide, presumably to declaw progressive voters in Vancouver and Toronto.
“Recognize rural areas of Western Canada are isolated from the power structures of urban Eastern Canada and face unique challenges,” it demands. “This means creating a formal consultation requirement to ensure their voices have equal import in policy related to economic development, rural crime, and firearms ownership. Repeal any policies with detrimental impacts regarding the same.” (Emphasis added. And who says controlling firearms would have detrimental impacts in rural Alberta?)
Well, this screed is not completely bereft of good ideas. There’s one, anyway: More federal arts funding for Western Canada.
If Alberta and Saskatchewan want more representation in Ottawa, of course, the simplest way to go about it would be to elect a few MPs from a couple of other parties. But we can hardly expect four of the dimmer lights of the party that effortlessly gets the majority of votes on the Prairies to recommend that, now, can we?
As Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi sensibly suggested on Friday, it might be more helpful if the Four Buffaloons used their limited talents to try to drum up some jobs in Calgary instead of driving away potential investment.
Instead, they’ve just helped make the federal Conservative predicament, already bleak in the wake of the disastrous leadership of Andrew Scheer and the party’s predictable loss in the 2019 election, just a little bleaker.
Scheer has stepped aside, but it seems the dominant Conservative Buffalo Wing won’t accept a leader that can win a federal election, and the party can’t win with a leader the Buffalo Wing will accept. This has already driven the best potential candidates from the field.
Justin Trudeau, his increasingly obvious failings notwithstanding, remains Canada’s Liberal prime minister.
In other words, the Conservative party is so furious it isn’t running the country that it’s in the grip of a protracted temper tantrum that threatens to destroy its chances of power for a generation.
And all they have to offer is buffalo chips!
David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions at The Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. This post also appears on his blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.
Image: Andrew Scheer/Flickr