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Historical First Meeting of the Canadian Outdoor Caucus

The future of hunting, fishing and trapping in Canada took a big step forward as the first meeting of the Canadian Outdoor Caucus, was held on Wednesday, June 7, 2006. The Caucus, comprised of Members of Parliament and the Senate, met in the historical setting of the West Block on Parliament Hill, in the nations capital. Dr. Robert O. Bailey, Vice President of Policy for Canada, attended the inaugural meeting of the Outdoor Caucus to convey the best wishes and support of Delta Waterfowl.

The purpose of the inaugural event was to elect a Caucus executive and to review the first steps required to launch the Caucus on behalf of Canada’s hunting, fishing and trapping heritage. The mission of the Caucus is to entrench in federal law, fishing hunting, trapping and shootings sports as acceptable, traditional, environmentally- sustainable outdoor heritage activities, with a safety credo and a conservation ethic as the highest priorities.

As a first order of business, Caucus co- chairs and vice- chairs were elected from the 26 Members of Parliament and Senate attending the meeting. The executive was chosen to be non- partisan and to have the ability to conduct business in both official languages. Conservative Garry Breitkreuz, a prime mover behind the Caucus concept, and Liberal colleague and supporter Larry Bagnell were elected as co- chairs. Breitkreuz and Bagnell recently visited the US Congressional Sportmen’s Caucus in Washington D.C., where the Caucus’ from both countries pledged to work closely together on common issues facing hunters, anglers and trappers.

Bloc Quebecois Paul Crete and Conservative Senator Gerry St. Germain were elected as the vice- co- chairs. The Caucus also decided to hire a non- partisan coordinator and to establish an advisory committee representing all regions and disciplines. The Caucus membership presently stands at 75, a total of 66 Members of Parliament and 9 Senators, making if one of the largest Caucus’ in the federal parliament.

The work of the new Caucus will ensure Canadians continue to have reasonable access to federally managed public lands and waters to enjoy traditional outdoor heritage activities, as access to outdoor pursuits has steadily declined. Creating greater awareness of the economic importance of outdoor heritage activities and support growth in the outdoor recreation sector is also a priority. The Caucus will recognize and promote the contributions of hunters, anglers and trappers to habitat conservation and environmental stewardship, which is a breath of fresh air after years of hiding the Canadian hunting and trapping heritage in the conservation closet.

After decades of turmoil for hunters, trappers and anglers, caused by animal rights activism, protectionist groups and politically correct conservation organizations, the Caucus will promote multiple sustainable uses and management of public lands, waters, fish, wildlife and habitat, based on sound science and professional natural resource tenets. It will also take steps to dispel myths promulgated in Canadian society by animal rights activists, and identify obstacles to recruitment of those who wish to participate in outdoor activities. The Caucus will also endeavour to eliminate unnecessary barriers to participation and wise uses of fish, wildlife and natural areas, which will all go a long way toward ensuring the sustainability and enjoyment of our Canadian outdoor heritage.

The co- chairs recognized Delta Waterfowl and other groups who have contributed to laying the groundwork for the new Caucus. Dr. Bailey congratulated the new Caucus and pledged the support of Delta Waterfowl and the outdoor community in Canada to supporting their work. Several other hunting, fishing and trapping groups from across the country are rallying in support of the new Canadian Outdoor Caucus.

For more information visit: www.garrybreitkreuz.com