BY BOB ZIMMER
Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP
Some of you may be wondering why I’ve recently been out fishing in Smithers, Terrace and Bowen Island, mountain biking in Valemount and McBride, or why I’ve been speaking with snowmobilers and hunters from Mackenzie to Fort Nelson. I have been highlighting our outdoor community while also ringing the alarm bell about closures.
As your Member of Parliament and in my national/international role as Co-Chair of the Canadian Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus, I am proud to stand up for our hunters, anglers, sport shooters, outfitters and the outdoor community.
Some of you may not know that closures to our beloved backcountry are being seriously considered more and more. The Liberals’ international commitment to ‘protecting’ 30 per cent of Canada’s oceans and lands by 2030 – also known as 30 by 30 – is having huge impacts on British Columbia’s outdoor community and access to our public lands and waters.
The ever-increasing blind percentage seems to never be enough for powerful ENGOs and I have heard many speak of ‘protecting’ 50 per cent by 2050! Where do you think they are going to get all of that land and water from? From rural Canadians, that’s where. From your prime hunting or public fishing spots to beloved snowmobiling or hiking areas.
As a result of my role on the Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus, I have been involved in important conversations with our sister organization in Washington, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, about the implications of 30 by 30 on hunters and fishers at the North American level and what approaches are necessary to ensure the expert opinions of our outdoor community are heard when making these decisions.
As we know, our nation’s hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts are conservationists at heart who support protecting our lands and waters through science-based decisions, not blind, unwarranted shutdowns. They understand that sustainability and respect for the environment does not preclude the enjoyment of nature. I have always believed that we should be working with these experts, learning from their experience and expertise, and using this knowledge when it comes to making decisions about access to our public lands and waters.
Arbitrary closures to meet arbitrary goals won’t work. Not only do these closures punish those who care about conservation and who are at the forefront of grassroots conservation projects across the country, they also effectively shut down the livelihoods of many Canadians living in rural, remote and coastal communities.
Unfortunately, as we have seen with caribou recovery plans in our region, Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government continue to disregard the concerns of local leaders, businesses, residents, and local outdoor experts when it comes to access to our public lands and waters. I fear this will continue to have a devastating impact on our important way of life.
We need to find a way to support our outdoor community, while also balancing the sustainable use of natural resources, societal and economic needs, and environmental protections.
It is why I will continue to speak out against the lack of genuine consultation surrounding caribou and other closures, as well as continue to push to ensure that these decisions are made based on science and sound advice from local experts.
My job as a Member of Parliament and as Co-Chair of the Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus is to bring national attention to these issues and the negative impact these arbitrary decisions are having on everyday Canadians like you.
I will continue to work hard and pressure ministers and the bureaucracy to make better decisions based on sound science and local expertise.