Friday, November 19, 2010

Gordon Campbell’s Legacy With Hunter

Originally published in the Merritt News

© By Othmar Vohringer

Gordon Campbell has resigned as Premier of BC and that is as good a time as any to look at the legacy he and his government left behind for hunters.

Throughout his tenure Campbell made several lip services in support of hunters. In 2005 the Campbell government published “A Strategy For Residential Hunter Recruitment And Retention In British Columbia”. In that study the government looked at strategies on how to stem the decline of hunters in this province and what could be done to get more people interested in hunting. I remember how enthusiastic the hunting community reacted when that report came out. Finally, we all thought, the government is going to recognize us as a force to be considered and give us the attention we deserved.

It is now five years since that report came out and nothing has happened. The report is probably gathering dust in some government filing cabinet. They say that money is in short supply. Interestingly enough, money seemed to be no problem when our Premier, and his minions in government, spent over $10 billion on the Winter Olympics. For that they took all the monies they could lay their hands on, including our hunting and fishing licence fees and then went on to cut the budgets for the Ministry of Environment and the Conservation Officer Service so severely that they barely managed to get by. Readers of the Merritt News may remember that I wrote in June of 2009 how hunters had to collect money so the Conservation Officers could fill up their service vehicles with gas. Yes it was that bad.

The government under Campbell’s leadership did not stop at making empty promises and financially starving the Wildlife Services and Ministry of Conservation to the point of rendering them basically inactive. Campbell’s leadership also took sizeable opportunities away from resident hunters to appease anti hunting sentiments and cater to special interest groups. I may add at this point that these special interest groups do not provide any funding for conservation issues to the government nor invest their personal time and money into the resource, and neither was this action based on conservation science. During the unlawful Klappan Road closure by special interest groups that went on for months, blocking resident hunters from legitimate access to hunting areas, did not elicit any action from the Campbell government. With that indifference they have set the tone for future illegal closures by these groups to limit access for resident hunters.

His latest strike before leaving office was a reshuffling of the cabinet and merging the Ministry of Environment with that of forestry and mining. It’s not hard to figure out who gets more priority in that ministry. Barry Penner, Minister for Environment, who under the given conditions did a remarkable job, has been replaced with Murray Coell, a new guy nobody knows. With a legacy like that it should not come as a surprise that the majority of hunters are not sad to see Gordon Campbell go.


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