The risks of Harper gov­ern­ment

The Compass - - OPINION -

For the first time I am be­gin­ning to re­al­ize what a threat Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper is to the av­er­age Cana­dian. As a 26-yearold grad­u­ate stu­dent from New­found­land, I have al­ways voted NDP, but have also be­lieved that each party has tried to be rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Cana­di­ans as a whole.

How­ever, de­ci­sions made by Mr. Harper in re­cent months are push­ing me to be­lieve that the page who so bravely stood up in front of Par­lia­ment with a sign read­ing STOP HARPER was ab­so­lutely right. He has to be stopped.

For the first time, I feel as though Mr. Harper poses a threat to me, per­son­ally.

Ever since I can re­mem­ber, I have been pas­sion­ate about Canada’s na­tional parks. They rep­re­sent ar­eas of nat­u­ral won­der, pro­tected by law for fel­low crea­tures and fel­low Cana­di­ans. I have been proud to work in na­tional parks across the coun­try for the past six years and am now in school work­ing on a mas­ter’s de­gree to pro­duce work that con­trib­utes to the im­proved man­age­ment of na­tional parks. Like oth­ers, I have gone to school and have in­curred stu­dent debt be­cause I dream of one day work­ing in the public sec­tor, specif­i­cally to help pre­serve the nat­u­ral her­itage of my fel­low Cana­di­ans.

It now seems as though my work and the work of hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple over the last cen­tury of the ex­is­tence of the na­tional parks sys­tem is to be trashed.

Mr. Harper’s sole goal is to pil­lage nat­u­ral ar­eas for the tem­po­rary bet­ter­ment of the pock­et­books of the few. This isn’t right.

Canada has long been ad­mired for the qual­ity and vast­ness of its na­tional parks sys­tem. Mil­lions of peo­ple from Canada and all over the globe travel to, or dream of vis­it­ing, our na­tional parks. Parks Canada pro­tects and presents the nat­u­ral and cul­tural her­itage of all Cana­di­ans.

Na­tional parks and his­toric sites also con­trib­ute bil­lions of dol­lars to the Cana­dian econ­omy and their pres­ence sup­ports the economies of ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

Mr. Harper has now cho­sen to gut the sys- tem of na­tional parks and his­toric sites by es­sen­tially fir­ing thou­sands of staff, forc­ing sea­sons to be short­ened and pri­va­tiz­ing ser­vices. And it doesn’t stop here. Not only has he just gut­ted the en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment process, but he also has his eye on the Fish­eries Act and the Species at Risk Act.

In the words of Cyndi Lau­per, it seems as though in his sec­ond (and God will­ing, his last) term in of­fice, his true colours are shin­ing through. Shame on him.

Our mem­bers of Par­lia­ment and the Cana­dian public must do ev­ery­thing in their power to stop Mr. Harper from dev­as­tat­ing the na­tional parks sys­tem and our nat­u­ral ar­eas as a whole.

Can we re­ally risk an­other three years with him in power? Alice Will writes from Por­tu­gal Cove

St. Philip’s.

Ed­i­tor’s note: this let­ter also ap­peared in the May 22 edi­tion of The Tele­gram

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