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
(Courtesy of Les Editions Main Street)
Part Three: Harvest of Blood
Article by Neil H. Zach
There is hope amongst those currently fighting to have Bill 147 repealed or at the very least, modified, that a new government in Quebec City will be more open to discussion that was the previous Parti Quebecois, who refused to even meet with representatives from environmental and animal rights groups. At the time this article is being read, the Sierra Club of Canada’s Quebec Chair, Ray Raymond, is heavily involved in a letter writing campaign in hopes of grabbing the attention of Sam Hamad, the new Liberal Minister of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Parks; the overlord of La Société de la Faune et des Parks du Quebec (FAPAQ). Raymond hopes to be able to convince the newly appointed Charest minister to set up a series of high level working meetings between his government and all interested parties so that Bill 147, and the extremely abusive way it has been managed, may be thoroughly reviewed and debated. In particular the section which refers to La Société des Établissement de Plein Air du Québec.
Howls of Protest
SÉPAQ, as it is called, manages and develops the infrastructures and land use policy of the vast territories transferred to it by the province. Its sole mission is to make profitable all public land under its tight-fisted control. SÉPAQ basically operates as a private enterprise, even though it greatly benefits from huge annual subsidies raised by the government through taxation of the public. FAPAQ is the sole shareholder of SÉPAQ, and its directive is to follow the policies, objectives, and structures designed by the former PQ Minister of Native Affairs, Transport, Wildlife and Parks Guy Chevrette. In 1985 Chevrette, despite howls of protest, arranged for the entire network of provincial wildlife reserves, parks, fish hatcheries, Anticosti Island, and its various hotels and lodges, to be transferred to SÉPAQ for the grand sum of $1.00. Currently SÉPAQ effectively controls the profit making abilities of 66,679 square kilometres of Quebec’s public land; an area only just slightly smaller than the Republic of Ireland.
The land use policies developed by SÉPAQ include forestry, mineral resource development and hydroelectric power, all in so called “protected” wilderness areas. They are required to offer hunting and fishing activities linking them to FAPAQ, which has seen fit to assign 20,479 square kilometres of lush public land to a mere 337 trappers, with life long exclusive rights. According to Guy Chevrette, SÉPAQ’s mandate at the time of its establishment was to “raise the quality of its network and improve its internal financing.” This philosophy puts SÉPAQ directly in line with highly lucrative commercial fur interests, seemingly at the opposite end of the ideals of wildlife conservation. In fact, Quebec is exploiting its fur bearing species at a rate which makes it one of the largest consumers of such animals on the planet. In 1999/2000, trappers paid to the government, in total, permit fees of $12,907 for the privilege of harvesting millions of dollars worth of fur destined for the world market. A piddling amount by anyone’s accounting methods.
Who are the people who hold exclusive lifelong rights to trapping in our wildlife reserves? Quebec’s access to information law LRQ A 2.1 tells us that senior civil servants employed by FAPAQ, which includes government biologists and wildlife conservation officers (game wardens), hold the greater number of these permits and public land exploitation leases. In the Laurentides and Portneuf Wildlife Reserves for example, employees of FAPAQ, including spouses and other family members, respectively hold 12% and 30% of the lands with exclusive use rights. The privatization and subversion of public lands to personal use is the result. These are the very same people who initiated the new trapping reform laws adopted by the province in 1999. Exploitation of the collective asset on public lands was granted to a privileged few, by the above mentioned Guy Chevrette, in what can best be described as a crony patronage system of mind boggling proportions.
The laws on civil service are quite clear and specific in respect to conflicts of interest. Chapter 2, Section 1, Subsection 7, states: "Civil servants may not have a direct or indirect interest that puts their personal interest and duties of their service into conflict."
Clearly, the law is not being respected. To date, FAPAQ has resisted any and all outside pressures to change or correct these abuses, excesses, and outright illegalities.
Next Month in Part Four: Where Do We Go From Here?
CUTLINE 1: The Honourable Sam Hamad, Quebec Minister of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Parks
CUTLINE 2: Quebec, and by extension Canada, exploits its fur bearing species at a rate which makes it one of the largest consumers of such animals on Earth
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