Editorial: A hard sell made harder

Where mellowing out is totally in.”

This Travel Alberta tagline, under the header “peace and tranquility,” neglects to account for recent developments.

What they didn’t mention was to look for peace and quiet elsewhere Sep. 22, after Alberta cabinet minister Ted Morton officially dubbed it the first Provincial Hunting Day.

The goals of the announcement were to promote hunting and “give young Albertans the opportunity to experience the outdoors and build greater respect for wildlife,” by controlling its populations by lethal means. With the right ecologists backing the argument, it could probably be pulled off.

Things get a bit far-fetched, though, when hunting perks include “reducing vehicle collisions, crop depredation from deer and elk, and addressing chronic wasting disease in deer.”

A quick survey of university students on campus rendered surprising results: very few had even heard of the announcement. This might explain the lack of outcry in urban centres, which should probably sound something like the following.

Canadian culture is often defined by what it is not. When we are abroad, we often try to distinguish ourselves from the global stereotypes of our neighbours to the south: rude, obnoxious, impatient, ignorant gun-toting hillbillies constantly concerned with “protecting” their freedom. As such, it’s no wonder we’d react badly to sports and activities that inherently increase the number of firearms among the civilian population. After all, we’ve seen how well that works out for everyone Down South. Especially in Alberta’s rapidly growing cities, population density increases tandem to firearm increases have been proven daily to be one big, bad idea.

The list of ill-chosen comments provided by the minister for political slaughter goes on.

“Hunting is more fun [than video games] and a lot healthier,” Morton was quoted in the announcement.

Illustrated eerily by games like Microsoft’s latest addition to the Halo series hitting front page headlines like the butt of a shotgun not long after Hunting Day, the closest correlation between hunting and video games is through the first-person shooter–a controversial genre rife with blood and guts and gore that, at one point more often than not, belonged to human victims. To draw a connection between homicide (however illusory) and hunting seems counter-productive for the minister’s aim to get young Albertans to respect wildlife.

It’s not that there aren’t arguments for the promotion of more hunting in the province. It is a popular tourism draw to the Rockies and creates a substantial amount of local and government revenue.

The problem occurs when the government presents their release evidently as a hard sell, stretching to find excuses to promote hunting in the province. Without a doubt, they should expect some resistance to the invitation to shoot things, mostly from the usual suspects: animal rights groups, anti-gun lobbyists and some ecologists. The majority of these people are going to remain no doubt fairly un-swayable.

In trying to fruitlessly push the hard sell, the Conservatives are handing out reasons to resist their proposals. Despite any firearm frenzy Morton might harbour, I doubt his intention was to give activists more ammunition.

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