Whoopee, I’ve got my free national parks pass.
Yes, I’m one of those awful people who are going to troop into as many national parks as possible in this year-long birthday bash Canada’s merrily engaged upon.
In fact I might drive in, turn back around, then nip in again, just to doubly annoy the miserable killjoys now lining up to condemn the free annual pass program, which is part of our 150-year celebrations.
Frankly the elitism and hypocrisy of these conservation experts and self-appointed stewards of the great Canadian wilderness is enough to make you reach for the nearest bear spray. Oh, they wisely intone, we cannot have more common rabble using these parks because the facilities will be strained and the wildlife adversely impacted. They should all stay home and if they want to see a Rocky mountain there’s always picture books at the library. Take the folk at the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. Spokesperson Alison Ronson can recite a laundry list of problems with this apparently dreadful free pass program. “Banff and Jasper National Parks are two of the most visited parks in the country and they’re already at capacity,” Ronson recently told a TV news outlet. “With those visitors come problems like traffic on the highways which leads to increased collisions with wildlife or bear jams, when you see people stopping on the highway to view wildlife, which then can result in human-wildlife conflict when people get out of their cars to take photographs,” she said.
Of course that same Wilderness Society wasn’t whining about the horrors of ordinary Canadians using the parks a few months earlier when the feds kicked in wads more taxpayer money to help increase the number of parks. “We welcome the significant funding of $123.7 million for new national parks, and marine protected areas,” said Éric Hébert-Daly, National Executive Director of CPAWS.
So, in short, we have conservationists who applaud when the government spends our money – that being cash from the pockets of taxpayers - on creating and enhancing national parks but then the same bunch throw a hissy fit when ordinary Canucks manage to finally score a freebee and get to visit those parks without shelling out for a year.
Actually a Parks Canada spokesman got it spot on.
“We can’t actually love our parks to death — I think the death of our parks is when nobody wants to come to them and when they don’t care about them anymore. We would much rather be in this place then in a place where nobody is showing up,” said Ed Jager.
Wow, what a remarkable show of common sense from a federal employee. One of the amazing things about living in Canada is the stunning geography we’re blessed with, especially here in Alberta. The original idea behind designating some of these areas as national narks was to give access to Canadians who’d otherwise never be able to see such wonders. It wasn’t done to protect wildlife - this is a huge country with a small population and critters have millions of acres to wander about in without much threat of ever seeing Homo sapiens.
Sadly some people – think, for example, of all those unemployed Albertans – cannot afford to pay for admission into these parks.
So allowing us all to celebrate our country’s birth by viewing its majesty regardless of income is one of the best government ideas for many a year. And if those who find that idea distasteful then they can always do their bit and shuffle off to spend the next 12-months in downtown Toronto. That’ll make more room for me.