Another federal election, before its scheduled time, before any of us want it. But there it is. I saw my first campaign sign the other day, and it got me to thinking. I remember way back when it was said that you could tell who was going to win the election by the number of campaign signs erected in the riding. The candidate with the most would win. Personally I always thought the most signs simply meant the biggest ‘war chest’, the deepest pockets or the closest relationship, amongst all the parties, to the back room guys back in Ottawa and Toronto. I have always been a realist.
But if the idea of the most signs suggests the winner, then I guess in this area the winner regarding the national park idea, is the ‘noes’. Driving about I have seen dozens of ‘No National Park’ signs. I have seen only two pro-park signs, and one of them is in Penticton.
The national park debate is a difficult one, because the bureaucrats behind it will not debate. They barely listen. After a meeting where everyone present (excluding the presenters) have stated openly they are opposed to the idea, the report of the meeting will suggest otherwise. Suggest? No, state openly. I quit going to those meetings. There is a limit to the time I can waste.
The national park would mean that thousands of acres of provincial Crown land would suddenly become a federal issue.
On those thousands of Crown land acres, currently, we can hunt—with licences of course. The park would end all that.
A good deal of the area is covered by cattle grazing permits, allowing our cattlemen (who are already so few on the ground) the right to summer pasture their herds, thus permitting harvesting of winter feeds on their home ranches. The right to run cattle in the proposed park was never finalized, no doubt because of the united front of our ranchers, who would not go silently away, but there is little doubt what the final say would be, should the park ever materialize.
A couple of dozen people actually reside in the area suggested for the park. Now, national parks have daily visitation fees, but, in a generous mood, it was said that anyone residing in the park could have visitors to and from their properties, visit without the need to pay a fee. How nice is that? And what would be the cost of such a ‘door keeping; program?
And then there are the farmers whose properties border the proposed park boundaries. Because of their proximity to the park they would be prohibited from using most spray materials, spray materials that are required to grow a crop of the quality required by our very picky consumers, both locally and internationally.
And what about the few of us who just like to wander about in the hills. We can do so, freely now. Because BC parks do not charge for entry, exit, or use.
That’s a big point. Most of the land proposed for the national park is already protected. The South Okanagan Grasslands area is part of it. And now that there is a moratorium on the sale of crown land, that protection is virtually guaranteed, for ever, in the proposed park area.
So, back to the election. Our incumbent MP, Mr. Richard Cannings, is a fine man. I have voted for him twice, although I am not pro-NDP. I support him because he is honourable, good. (Not that the people who ran, and will run against him, are not also honourable or good. I just knew he was.)
But when can an elected representative’s personal beliefs, tenets, or favourites outpace the desires of the majority of that representative’s electorate? Should he (or she) not promote what the plurality of the electorate desires?
Mr. Cannings presented two petitions to the House of Commons regarding the proposed park. I think it goes without saying that the ‘Noes’ outnumbered the “Yeas’. But Mr. Cannings, who is a reknown environmentalist, and who says he was personally behind the idea for the park decades ago, stated he was for the park. He would not renounce his own belief in the benefits of the park. Does this make him a hero? Or a turncoat to his constituency?
I do not know the answer.
I hope I do by September 20th.
By Jessica Murphy