Grace's Legacy
 
 

Who Killed Grace? Part 1, The Time of Constant Sorrow

 

Who Killed Grace? Part 2, The Royal Privilege

 

Who Killed Grace? Part 3, Harvest of Blood

 

Legal Cruelty

 

Trapped in Apathy



(Courtesy of Les Editions Main Street)

Who Killed Grace?
Part Two: The Royal Privilege

Article by Neil H. Zach

In the haunted months following Grace’s death, Alana Hoffer struggled to make sense of it all. She wanted to give Grace’s passing some meaning beyond that of a bloody Conibear ceaselessly snapping shut in her mind. She wanted to prevent her shattering from happening to someone else. And so she began an endless seeking out of anyone who might help her understand why these traps can be set where families ski, walk, hike or cycle—where pets might accidentally set them off as Grace did. She spoke with municipal politicians, with provincial game wardens and with the police. Everywhere she met with cold indifference. No one seemed at all distressed that out there, hidden in our forests, or by the banks of our rivers and lakes, lay the hungry, gaping maw of an indiscriminate ogre. A monster which made no distinction in its appetite twixt beaver, muskrat, dog or child.

“I couldn’t understand why no one was concerned about the danger to people,” Alana says. “I had some faint sense of sympathy for my loss of Grace but beyond that, when it came to accountability, that sympathy, morphed into unconcern. I kept getting told that these traps were legal, and that it wasn’t against the law to place them where people might stagger upon them.”

There was officialdom’s response. That people had to be on guard whenever they were out in the woods. That if their negligence resulted in setting off one of these traps, well too darn bad, but they should have known better. That here, on Quebec’s ‘public lands’, trappers and hunters have the right of way.

“When I asked why there couldn’t be signs warning people,” Alana says, “I was dismissively told that the law did not require them.”

The law is Bill 147, frantically passed by the Parti Quebecois on December 23, 2002.

According to Ray Raymond of the Quebec chapter of the Sierra Club of Canada; a national environmental protection agency, Bill 147 was first proposed in early December 2002, by La Sociéte de la Faune et du Parcs du Québec (FAPAQ), then rammed through the legislature by Richard Legendre, the MNA for Blainville, who at that time held the dual portfolio of Minister of Youth and Tourism.

According to its mandate, the purpose of FAPAQ is to oversee the conservation and development of wildlife and wildlife habitats, in a manner consistent with sustainable and harmonious development from a cultural, social, economic and regional standpoint. It is also responsible for the development and management of parks to allow for conservation, education and the pursuit of recreational activities.

These are lofty ideals, worthy of respect, but it’s nevertheless mystifying why Bill 147 was rushed through the legislature so quickly. Most Bills are debated for months, but Bill 147 was on the floor only a matter of weeks. Raymond says environmental groups such as his, and the public in general, were given less than 24 hours notice to present themselves at hearings concerning the law. Inadequate time to study it and mount resistance should its proposals be found wanting; which ultimately they were.

Raymond says the PQ did this to “prevent any effective opposition from being voiced.”

Legendre on the other hand claimed the speed at which the law was brought into effect was the result of it being a sound piece of legislation. He told reporters at that time that he was very proud of the work done by FAPAQ lobbyists in ensuring that the Bill met with little resistance. Critics countered that it was difficult to resist what you didn’t have time to comprehend.

Raymond says that to understand how FAPAQ works, one needs to understand that, unlike in other provinces in Canada, wildlife reserves in Québec do not serve the purpose of natural resource conservation. In fact, he claims, quite the opposite is true.

“Once an area is designated as protected,” he says, “there is actually more wildlife mortality there than ever before. The activities allowed in these so called ‘environmentally protected regions’ include hunting, trapping, clear cut logging, hydro-electric projects and strip mining. The zones are basically divided into sectors of exploitation for invited companies and private individuals, including government official, FAPAQ employees, their families and friends.”

In other words, Bill 147 seems to have created huge quasi-royal domains where an elite and privileged few may use Quebec’s public land in any way they see fit. And in ways which are, fundamentally, in the opposite direction from what is being publically proclaimed.

Next Month in Part Three: Tooth and Nail–Opposition to FAPAQ Mounts

Online Information About Subjects Mentioned in This Article:

La Sociéte de la Faune et du Parcs du Québec: http://www.fapaq.gouv.qc.ca/en/index1.htm

A Trapper’s Story: http://www.homestead.org/trapping.htm

The Sierra Club of Canada website: http://www.sierraclub.ca/

CUTLINE: An obviously still living white ermine lays trapped in agony. Desperate animals will often chew off their legs in order to escape. Of course they slowly bleed to death later. How then can the government call the Conibear a “quick kill device”?

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Stop the Use of Inhumane Traps, and The Story of Russell