Lesley Fox: Minister Steve Thomson, D is for democracy

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      Minister Steve Thomson, meet democracy. Democracy, meet the man ignoring you.

      Is that too on-the-nose? To be fair, it’s kind of hard for me not to be critical and sarcastic when I talk about the minister of lands, forests and natural resources.

      We at the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals (the Fur-Bearers)—a solution-focused nonprofit society that’s been around about as long as Mr. Thomson himself—want to have a chat with our esteemed member for Kelowna-Mission. His political portfolio puts him in the position of creating policy for everything fur-bearing in British Columbia.

      We, of course, want to raise a few issues with him: the raccoon in White Rock who had a front paw amputated by a leg-hold trap—and then was found with another leg-hold trap on her back paw. The raccoon who was found with similar injuries—and ultimately died in the care of a rehabilitator—right on the 400 block of East 11th Avenue in Vancouver.

      These are traps that are listed as “humane” in British Columbia, which the minister supports through inaction. The leg-hold trap—and yes, it’s still legal—is indiscriminate. Companion animals like cats and dogs are mauled by them. Non-target species, including at-risk or endangered species, are held against their will. Dozens of petitions have come and gone over the years, demanding an end to their use—all have been ignored by politicians of the day.

      Every day I’m sent links or photos of animals who are injured or killed by traps. Every day, my heart breaks a little bit more. And every day, I ask myself how Minister Thomson can allow this. That’s why the Fur-Bearers continues to push for a meeting with the minister and his staff to discuss a number of issues.

      We’d like to discuss the numerous requests from B.C. municipalities who want authority to restrict or ban the use of traps in their communities. We’d also like to ask about identification tags on traps, signage in areas where trapping is occurring, and other minor updates to an archaic industry.

      Mr. Thomson is well aware of these requests—they’ve been sitting on his desk for two years, actually, with numerous follow-ups from the Fur-Bearers, as well as the municipalities and voters he’s been stonewalling.

      Please note this is not allegorical. We regularly make requests to meet with the minister or request status updates on various policies. We’ve even offered to go out to his constituency office in Kelowna for a five-minute coffee. Always we’re told his schedule is full.

      Granted, we know he’s a busy man. After all—he had to approve the grizzly bear trophy hunt (90 percent of B.C. residents oppose it). He had to approve the plan to kill wolves for several years to protect endangered caribou (even though his own scientists say it won’t work and public opinion is against the plan). He’s clearly supporting the use of leg-hold, snare, and other body-gripping traps to kill animals for their fur (85 percent of B.C. residents oppose this practice). On top of all that are all the emails of people commenting on that pesky trophy bear hunt—which a recent FOI request filed by the Vancouver Observer revealed 88 percent opposition in these comments.

      It’s funny how some politicians, once elected, suddenly make policy decisions based on information that the public either isn’t aware of, or doesn’t support. And it’s not a mild “I’m not so sure about that” response coming out through the media and polls. It’s outright, hands-down, “this is ridiculous” commentary. Yet Mr. Thomson is either more disillusioned than the people who didn’t bother to vote for him (or anyone else), or he simply doesn’t care.

      We’d invite the good minister to come and visit a rehabilitation centre with us. One of those places where volunteers (because they receive no government funding) put their heart and soul into helping injured or orphaned wildlife. We’d ask him to take a good look at the raccoon who self-amputated a paw and dragged around a leg-hold trap on another while trying to care for her kits. We’d ask him to listen to the cries of a coyote who literally ripped his leg apart, trying to get free of a trap. We’d ask him to explain to these animals, somehow, that it’s all okay.

      Of course, the wild animals don’t vote—and aren’t part of a revenue-generating lobby like the fur industry or guide outfitters, so Mr. Thomson is probably a bit too busy for such a visit.

      We can only hope that he’s been busy in a civics class, learning how democracy actually works.



      Julia BANCROFT.

      Mar 27, 2015 at 1:32pm

      Thank you for your organizations hard work!! We too have great difficulty in getting real responses to our complaints here in Nova Scotia. The environment and animals just aren't a priority. Don't give up, if we give up they win.