USA -(Ammoland.com)- Founded in 2006, Canada’s Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus is a political anomaly. Entirely non-partisan, membership is open to Senators and Members of Parliament of any political stripe with only one condition: a willingness to learn more about Canada’s primary heritage activities including hunting, fishing, trapping and sport shooting.
Despite their declaration as heritage activities by Stephen Harper’s government, these activities are under constant attack. Foreign and domestic political activists opposed to these activities neither understand our history nor do they comprehend the value hunting, fishing, trapping and sport shooting bring to Canada’s economy.
Fur powered the economic engine of what eventually would become Canada through European demand. Prince Rupert, cousin to King Charles II, founded the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1670 to profit from that demand.
The Hudson’s Bay Company imported goods, metal tools, guns, textiles and foodstuffs, and bartered them to North America’s First Nations in exchange for furs. Aboriginals and immigrants alike trapped to earn their livelihoods. Settlers armed with little more than independence and determination hunted and fished to sustain themselves.
Three centuries later, Conservative MP Garry Breitkreuz and Liberal MP Larry Bagnall founded the Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus specifically to defend those rights. First, through education of their fellow Members of Parliament on the benefits Canada derives from these heritage activities and second, through legislation. Its mission, as expressed in the statement below, is to legislatively protect and defend Canadians’ heritage rights to hunt, fish, trap and shoot.
“The mission of the Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus is to entrench in law fishing, hunting, trapping and shooting sports as acceptable, traditional, environmentally–sustainable outdoor heritage activities with a safety credo and a conservation ethic as our highest priority.”
For example, when MP Nathanial Erskine-Smith introduced Bill C-246, the Modernizing Animal Protections Act, into Parliament on February 26, 2016, the Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus worked to educate politicians of the dangerous provisions contained within it.
Animal rights groups promoted the bill as a response to animal cruelty. They ignored existing laws against shark finning, for example, and claimed C-246 was imperative if we cared about animals. Their position was disingenuous, at best.
Buried inside Bill C-246 were sections to criminalize killing a fish and shooting a game animal to feed your family. The simple act of baiting a hook with a live worm could bring criminal charges under Bill C-246.
Pushed by anti-fishing and anti-hunting groups outside Canada whose goal is to end hunting, fishing and trapping, this legislation has been before Parliament under numerous political sponsors since 1999. It is one small part of a larger ongoing attack on our fundamental rights.
When Garry Breitkreuz retired from politics in 2015, he passed on the torch to Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus Co-Chair, MP Bob Zimmer who hails from British Columbia. In a recent interview with the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, Zimmer spoke about foreign groups and their attacks on the heritage rights of Canadians. “In this day and age of influences from the outside, we need to be constantly on the front lines making sure our mission is being advanced in Parliament.”
Sending Canadians to prison for baiting a hook is obscene. Were it not for the diligent work of the Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus and its non-partisan support from all parties, Bill C-246 would have done exactly that.
The fundamental rights and freedoms of Canadians are under constant attack. Bad legislation is not defeated in a vacuum. Decent men and women like Bob Zimmer, Yvonne Jones and the rest of the Outdoor Caucus apply their energy, commitment and dedication to the defense of our inherent rights.
Their dedication to educating their fellow MPs is invaluable, as MP Bob Zimmer explains:
“That’s where the co-chair is so important. We have Yvonne Jones from the Liberal Party [as co-chair]. Just on the most recent bill, we came together and defeated Bill C-246, the animal rights bill, where most of the people who voted against it are Liberals. It was a group effort, but that’s the power of education.”
Educating parliamentarians through a non-partisan group largely made defeating this bill possible. Zimmer’s pride in the accomplishments of the Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus is clear when he spoke about the defeat of Bill C-246.
“I am pleased that Bill C-246 was defeated by strong opposition on all sides of the House of Commons. While there are areas of this bill that I am supportive of, some amendments to the Criminal Code were very concerning, specifically interpretive language that could criminalize historic and normal activities of hunting, fishing, farming and trapping. I especially want to thank my Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus Co-Chair Yvonne Jones, MP for Newfoundland and Labrador; fellow outdoor advocates Robert Sopuck, MP, and Gudie Hutchings, MP, for all their efforts to see that hunters, anglers, farmers and trappers’ livelihoods are maintained.”
This is just one small battle in a very long, drawn-out war that shows no signs of ending any time soon. The attacks on our rights and freedoms will never stop, and it’s encouraging to know good people like Bob Zimmer are fighting for us.
“We always have issues with regards to firearms, the personal freedoms that relate to firearms, promoting the traditional use of firearms in Canada. We’re also seeing protected areas encroached on, traditional areas used by anglers over the centuries, and areas hunted for centuries, basically land and water access issues as it relates to hunting, trapping and angling,” said Zimmer
Membership in the Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus is voluntary. There is no membership list and MPs are not required to divulge their membership or attendance. This is by design. Many MPs want to be informed, but they don’t want their participation or attendance used against them politically.
“My job as co-chair is to follow up on our mission statement, but on the personal side it’s to carry on the legacy of former MP greats like Garry Breitkreuz, specifically. I just want to continue that and make sure that’s something that’s advancing and not retracting.”
This is where Bob Zimmer and Yvonne Jones need our help.
Please contact your Member of Parliament today and ask them if they are part of the Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus. If they are, thank them for their willingness to stay abreast of these issues and encourage them to report what they learn back to your riding.
If your MP is not part of the Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus, ask them to join immediately by contacting MP Bob Zimmer’s office in Ottawa at 613-947-4527 or via email to Bob.Zimmer@parl.gc.ca. Membership is informal and Bob’s office will ensure they are notified of all meetings and new information.
Only by educating our elected representatives will our rights be protected.
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