Donald Rumsfeld wrote that “arguments of convenience lack integrity and inevitably trip you up” and it would seem that Norm Macdonald’s latest argument relating to the Natural Resource Road Act (NRRA) brings into question his integrity and has put him flat on his face! In his article he states that “this legislation could have restricted your access to back country roads” which represents nothing more than fear mongering. Given his direction on this issue it appears that he is actually prepared to recommend against a policy that rural constituents will benefit from.
The NRRA is a policy development process that has been ongoing since 2008 and to a large extent has been driven by East Kootenay BC Liberal MLA Bill Bennett. The intent of this legislative framework is to better serve the current and future needs of all resource road users providing common requirements and responsibilities regarding construction, maintenance and use of resource roads in a manner that is reasonable and fair for all concerned with due consideration for the public interest and the environment. Like me, Bennett is an avid hunter and angler who is interested in finding reasonable ways to keep resource roads open to the public and the NRRA process has taken great care, contrary to Macdonald’s claim, to include open dialogue with the BC Wildlife Federation, trappers, guide outfitters, backcountry tourism operators, foresters, mining operators and oil and gas representatives. The process actually invited the public to share opinions through the NRRA website up until December 15, 2011. Most important is that MLA Bennett has persuaded the government to create legislation that for the first time in the history of British Columbia will factor in the importance of resource roads to the public ensuring access to hunters, fisherman, berry pickers, “mushroomers”, cross country and tour skiers, campers and hikers, quadders, sledders, bikers and the list goes on.
What Macdonald’s article fails to capture is the fact that prior to this proposed act, roads were built by and for industry and industry usually called the shots. Once industry was done with the road, the Crown was faced with either having to pay to keep the road open and maintained or allow it to be closed. While the new policy will continue to support closures for environmental reasons it will allow a trapper, guide outfitter, outdoor club or prospector to sign a contract with the government thus keeping the road open and accessible to all groups. This is the process Macdonald disingenuously refers to as “privatizing”.
An MLA in opposition has the same job as an MLA in government and that is to honestly and realistically represent the interests of the constituents. I suggest that the NRRA issue as presented by Macdonald is nothing more than an argument of convenience for political gain and is a deliberate attempt to turn people against a policy that is clearly good for rural BC. For me, this does not speak to the level of integrity I would hope to see from any MLA.
For more information on this issue visit www.for.gov.ca/mof/nrra
Doug Clovechok is the BC Liberal Party candidate for Columbia River-Revelstoke