19 MARCH 2000, TORONTO – The Humane Society of Canada had harsh words of criticism for Premier Mike Harris and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters.
"Who do they think they are? In our view, encouraging the recreational killing of wildlife by young people is just plain stupid. I can't imagine a more reckless and anti-educational campaign," said HSC Executive Director, Michael O'Sullivan.
His group was responding to news reports that a hunting guide was sent to secondary schools in Ontario. The guide has sections covering hunting ethics, wildlife identification, first aid, the law, gun use, shooting positions and types of bullets. The 300-page color manual was prepared using tax dollars as a joint program between the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and the provincial government.
And O'Sullivan was astonished that the guide was also published with the help of the U.S. based National Rifle Association: "I can't imagine a more unholy marriage. These are the guys who just criticized safety locks on handguns. They even lobbied against Canada's gun control laws. We don't need a bunch of gun toting Americans telling us how to run our province," he said.
Last year, Premier Mike Harris awarded a contract to the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters to register and train hunters in the province. The Humane Society of Canada believes this guide forms a part of that initiative and is demanding an independent investigation by the provincial Auditor General to learn if the $500,000 contract was put out for public tender and how the money has been spent.
On the other hand, O'Sullivan says he isn't overly optimistic about the outcome of such an audit:
"You have to remember that Harris is the guy who passed a law allowing 12 year old children to carry guns and kill wildlife. These same children aren't old enough to drive, not old enough to drink, not old enough to marry, not even old enough to vote. But as far as Mike Harris is concerned, they're old enough to go out and kill a wild animal. What a screwed up system of family values," said O'Sullivan, who is the father of two small children.
A study released last year by Environment Canada showed that only about 5% of Canadians still engage in hunting.
He also accuses Premier Mike Harris of betraying Ontarians by opening up more provincial parks for the recreational killing of wildlife: "Since 95% of the people living in Ontario do not hunt, this is not the kind of behaviour the people of Ontario want or expect from their elected officials or civil servants," said O'Sullivan.
"Teaching children to participate in the recreational slaughter wildlife isn't family values. All it does is encourage violence," he said.
"When someone destroys a work of man we call him a vandal. When someone destroys a work of God and nature we call him a sportsman," said O'Sullivan. "And that is simply not acceptable to the vast majority of people living in Ontario."
Over the past 30 years, O'Sullivan has worked here in Canada and in over 75 countries protecting animals and nature.
A study released last year called "The Importance of Nature to Canadians", is the fourth in a series of comprehensive studies carried out by Statistics Canada on behalf of Environment Canada since 1981. The other three studies were released in 1981, 1987, and 1992.
The results and conclusions are emphatic and crystal clear. All of the studies showed that more and more people are turning away from the violence associated with hunting.
The study revealed for example that over a four-year period between 1992 and 1996 alone there was a 20% decrease (ie. from 1.5 to 1.2 million) in the total number of hunters. And bear in mind, that this most recent study uses information gathered in 1996. The study reports that 95% of Canadians were not involved in hunting and that they support the protection, and not the killing of wildlife.
Therefore based on the researchers' own observations, this means that between 1996 - 2000 there may indeed be yet a further 20% decrease in the number of people involved in hunting.
CONTACT: Michael O'Sullivan by toll free 1-800-641-KIND or Michael on his cell phone (416) 876-9685 or at www.humanesociety.com via twitter at www.twitter.com/HSCanada and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Humane-Society-of-Canada/211468055538280
[For more than 17 years, Al Hickey was the Chief Executive of the BC SPCA and before that headed up the Alberta and BC Chambers of Commerce, and was the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vancouver. He has been The HSC Western Regional Director for over 12 years. He has 4 children and 6 grandchildren. For his lifetime of achievement dedicated to helping people, animals and the environment, we have bestowed upon him our prestigious Heroes for Animals Award, shared by only a handful of people and organizations.
A father with two children, and a houseful of dogs and cats, Michael O'Sullivan has worked across Canada and in over 110 countries during the last 40 years helping people, animals and nature.]
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