My Nov. 30 closing day of deer season was déjà vu all over again from the Nov. 1 opener, except there was considerably more snow from the blizzard that started the evening of Nov. 1 and the one that followed a week later.
Like the opener, closing day was bright and sunny out west but, again, a major blizzard was forecast. Again, I saw nary a deer nor a moose. There were tales written in meandering tracks in the deep snow, but not as many as you’d expect after three weeks.
Once again, I could not find a hunter anywhere to ask how the season went.
The only success stories I hear come from the south and the east, where there has been much less snow. Down in my favourite upland country northeast of Brooks, pheasants didn’t really start showing up until the season was almost over, but the season’s ungulate harvest on my favourite large pheasant hunting area, the owner tells me, was 21 deer and seven moose. Only one reader reports a great wild pheasant hunt, and that was way down south in Raymond-Taber country.
Generally I get the impression Northern and Central Alberta hunters feel it’s about time it’s over, and that most would prefer to forget this year’s hunting seasons.
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I looked up and muttered “its about time,” when I noticed the drilling rig that had been disturbing the deer for a couple of months was gone from the Crown quarter just west of the Stump Ranch quarter. So I drove in on the wide road allowance that has inundated my narrow, woods trail that was probably a century old.
Everything, including the rig workers’ “motel village,” is gone now, leaving two red well caps like pustules in the middle of the huge scar left where 30-plus acres of prime, public aspen parkland — boreal forest — was bulldozed down to bare mineral soil in just one week, but will take at least 40 years to regenerate.
The story written on the snow here is that the deer, too, seem to be saying “it’s about time,” and are already using their usual trails by detouring around the open wound in their forest.
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Recently, there have been many news items that inspire “it’s about time” thoughts, such as Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths, stating publicly in Prince Edward Island: “Everyone says that it (the oil and gas industry) is a benefit and a bonus because we have such a dominant commodity. But, you know, it sucks the life out of every other aspect of Alberta.” Of course Mr. Griffiths has since apologized, as any Alberta politician winds up doing who tells the truth about Alberta’s big oil and gas and its herd bullies who really run this province.
There are frequent recent comments that we should have listened to our late, great Premier Peter Lougheed, who, in retirement, urged Alberta to slow down oil and gas development, particularly the oilsands, and to pay more attention to our environment and diversification of our economy. That was also an “about time” message but, many years later, it is increasingly being quoted and there are even some signs that it is finally being heeded.
Well ahead of the recent leadership review of Premier Alison Redford, the Calgary Herald released its Government Report Card, based on a poll of Albertans who gave the government failing grades in many areas touching on our natural resources and our future. Fully 64 per cent of respondents disapproved of our government’s handling of government finances, while 20 per cent approved and 16 per cent didn’t know. In the managing of the economy category, 52 per cent disapproved our government’s efforts, 32 per cent approved, and 17 per cent didn’t know.
Lougheed started the Heritage Trust Fund to hold and invest regular payments from oil and gas revenues to insure a future for our progeny when the oil and gas are gone. Our government has plundered the fund, missed contributions to it and mismanaged it, and the Herald’s poll showed that 51 per cent of Albertans disapprove, 21 per cent approve and 28 per cent don’t know.
Strangely, the poll showed that Albertans are still not quite getting Lougheed’s message in two vital areas. In the energy/oilsands development category, 45 per cent approved, 38 per cent disapproved, and 17 per cent didn’t know. Unaccountably, to me, in the environment category, 40 per cent approved and 40 per cent disapproved the government’s performance and 20 per cent didn’t know.
On the whole, including categories not directly related to resources and the environment, the report card indicates Albertans are having some “it’s about time . . . for a change of government” thoughts. The problem for all of us is the basic question: to whom should we change?
I have been risking chronic constipation, even brain damage, reading and comparing the platforms of Alberta’s political parties, and am finding few planks that address the major and growing concerns of Albertans. None of them exhibit much will to wean us off total reliance on oil and gas and take government back from the big energy companies.
Maybe it’s about time we had a new party.
Bob Scammell is an award-winning columnist who lives in Red Deer. He can be reached at email@example.com.