I have zero respect for the Harper-hating Hill Times reporter Tim Naumetz at the best of times but he stoops to bizarre new lows with a concocted hit-piece based on PM Stephen Harper’s trip to the Yukon.
Naumetz speed-dialed his favourite opposition party MPs to get their moronic quotes on Harper’s ATV ride:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s much-vaunted message machine blundered when they plunked him on a Japanese-made ATV to churn up and down unlikely Yukon sand dunes in one of the rarest ecosystems in North America, say opposition MPs. (see here)
The same NDP that hired a foreign company to run their flawed leadership vote is running their mouth about Harper’s ATV. (see here)
The same Green Party who flew international speakers to its convention last weekend in Elizabeth May’s riding. (see here)
The same Liberal Party that has caucus members who lie about owning foreign-made cars. (see here)
Also: I wonder if these idiotic MPs think Michael Bublé, David Foster, Burton Cummins, Chantal Kreviazuk and Sarah McLachlan are bad Canadians for being Yamaha users? (see here)
Update: The Hill Times has now pulled this article but I fortunately have a saved copy.
Opposition MPs criticize PM Harper for riding non-Canadian ATV in rare Yukon ecosystem
‘Carcross desert is a place where ordinary Yukoners of all walks of life go to enjoy hiking and ATV riding and snowboarding during the winter,’ says PMO communications director Andrew MacDougall. ‘The Prime Minister was pleased to enjoy this popular local pastime in a truly unique location.’
Prime Minister Stephen Harper rides an ATV in the Carcross Desert, the smallest desert in the world.
By TIM NAUMETZ
Published: Wednesday, 08/22/2012 6:12 pm EDT
PARLIAMENT HILL—Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s much-vaunted message machine blundered when they plunked him on a Japanese-made ATV to churn up and down unlikely Yukon sand dunes in one of the rarest ecosystems in North America, say opposition MPs.
Mr. Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) plunged into his all-terrain adventure in the midst of a controversy over ATVS that is just starting in the pristine territory and as pressure grows across the country for more regulations to control the rugged and powerful machines in light of injuries and fatalities incurred by adolescents and even children whose parents either take them on rides or let them drive ATVS.
On top of that, Mr. Harper’s handlers and trip advance planners chose to rent—at $200 a day each—two Japanese-made ATVs for the brief photo opportunity when Whitehorse boasts among its recreational dealerships one that sells Montreal-made Bombardier ATVs, including a model that runs on electricity instead of gasoline.
Green Leader Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands, B.C.) and NDP MP Megan Leslie (Halifax, N.S.) both recalled the last time Mr. Harper rode an ATV during a trip to the Arctic, at a Northwest Territories air strip when he responded to questions about whether he was allowed to ride in the area with the quip: “I make the rules.”
“What is this massive marketing machine that the PMO is driving? What do they seek? What message do they want people to see—this sort of macho guy who’s not going to pay attention to the rules?” Ms. Leslie said. “They loved that. There’s no chance in 100 years that wasn’t entirely planned. Stephen Harper doesn’t do unplanned.”
Ms. Leslie said riding an ATV is “very controversial” because it is not safe for children. “People gripe about the price of gas being too high, but they’re prepared to buy a vehicle and fill it with gas for letting their kids ride around in ways that are unsafe,” Ms. Leslie said.
She and Ms. May said they were surprised to see Mr. Harper’s apparent disregard for sensitive ecology—even though local ATV recreational drivers also cruise up and down the rare dunes—after claiming the government wants to protect the Arctic environment when he proclaimed a new national park in the Northwest Territories earlier in the week.
They also argued other government actions, such as closing down an environmental research laboratory and easing environmental assessment requirements for resource development, also contradict the message he wanted to deliver at the national park ceremony.
“Definitely he cares about opening up oil and gas and mining, and there is this kind of macho thing, he likes to be seen on an ATV or a snowmobile, taking off, driving off in places he’s not supposed to go,” Ms. Leslie said.
“Every single thing he does is controlled and has a specific goal of message,” said Ms. May. “It’s not as if it’s a casual decision to ride off. They could have easily chosen to do something that was in keeping with what people in the area want to see, which would be taking a walk down some of the trails, hiking. I’ve vacationed in the Yukon quite a lot, and there are a lot of things to do that allow you to experience the wilderness of the Yukon in ways that don’t damage it.”
A spokesperson for Mr. Harper did not respond to questions about whether the Prime Minister or his wife, Laureen Harper, have taken ATV driving courses—the first recommendation on a Transport Canada guide for operating the recreational vehicle.
“Carcross desert is a place where ordinary Yukoners of all walks of life go to enjoy hiking and ATV riding and snowboarding during the winter,” said communications director Andrew MacDougall. “The Prime Minister was pleased to enjoy this popular local pastime in a truly unique location.”
Asked if the Prime Minister’s Office sought permission first from the Carcross Tagish First Nation that owns the territory including the dunes, Mr. MacDougall said: “It’s a public space. I’m not aware that any visitor to the desert must ask for permission. … The chief was at the Prime Minister’s BBQ, held just a mile down the road. The two men spoke there and the chief spoke with [Aboriginal Affairs] Minister [John] Duncan on [a] revenue sharing matter.”
The president of Yukon Yamaha in Whitehorse confirmed the Prime Minister’s Office rented the ATVs from his dealership, and also confirmed that as more and more people arrive in the territory from the southern regions of Canada, particularly from British Columbia, the debate over unbridled ATV use has grown.
“It’s been quite a hot topic up here for the last couple of years, not so much just there [in the First Nation sand dunes], the territory in general, just ATV use and damage in the back country, and people are calling for some sort of legislation to control it or limit it,” said dealership president Jason Adams.
“A lot of the strong proponents to regulate this, a lot of them want it completely banned, but the strongest voices to legislate it are usually transplants from a southern city, a southern area. A lot of it is out of Vancouver and they’re bringing their values and their stuff up here,” Mr. Adams told The Hill Times.
“I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, it’s just that it doesn’t jibe with the traditional approach up here, whether that’s First Nations or the non-First Nations contingency.”
Liberal MP Geoff Regan (Halifax West, N.S.) said Mr. Harper should have been aware Yukoners were already upset at government cuts to Parks Canada in the territory, which they fear will hurt tourism.
“When you have reports of Yukoners upset about this, it seems to me it shows how disconnected he is from the community up there,” said Mr. Regan. “Is it appropriate really, to use the dunes there as a photo op, when he’s roaring around through an ecologicially sensitive area? To add insult to injury he’s not even driving a Canadian made ATV but a foreign model.”
The Hill Times