Letter: Vote with Cecil in mind

As there’s an election on the horizon, readers can change that. Vote with Cecil in mind. He paid dearly for change.

It is a sombre reflection on our times and attitude to “economic” viability, when trophy hunting is regarded as a pillar of a state’s financial security. Barry Brandow’s letter (The Gazette, Sept. 23), rightly deplores African nations having reduced resources for conservation but disregards the underlying evils. The same can also be said of Canada.

Fundamental problems are the same on both continents: For centuries foreign interests have muscled their ways onto other peoples’ home places and exploited them; gold, silver, diamonds, copper, bauxite, timber, water, fish, coal, gas and oil and a myriad of other natural resources, alongside exploiting local labour, land, water, lax regulatory systems to develop commodities for export; tea, coffee, fruit, cut flowers, for example, in Africa. And wheat, coal, fish, timber and lumber, oil and gas and so on, in Canada.

Foreign powers even “owned” their lands until they gained “independence” which means stripped to the bone and discarded. Canada continues to be in such straits.

Investments on both continents have achieved astonishing levels of return, often with massive taxpayer support, lax taxation and military protection—although a dismaying paucity of return reached the natives of such places.

On the contrary; there continues a head-long rush of foreign capital to “develop” resources and land, at the direct expense of the native populations and the common environment.

In almost all cases, huge returns on investment have been “repatriated”—shipped off-shore, surely the antithesis of economic development. We are now faced with the dubious prospect of more off-shore capital being shipped in to privatise and own “public” services. Without our permission, as usual.

A future of dwindling natural resources, decreased public funding of public services (privatization), the vagaries of climate change and so on, signal a grim future.

Towering above all of this is the history of slavery—surely the most egregious resource exploitation in all of history and, of course, fundamental considerations in the plights of both contemporary Africa and the United States. Centuries of African slavery will forever be a dark stain in the annals of human shame and, while Canadian treatment of its own First Nations is on a different page in human misery, it remains unlikely that we immigrants will ever be able to make satisfactory amends.

So what has this got to do with Cecil the Lion and economic development? A lot. When the resource is cowardly and illegally eliminated, it leaves one less “resource” on which to build an economic base—a future; tourism in corrupt and destitute Zimbabwe’s case.

In Canada’s case? As the mindlessly headlong resource depletion and export continues—with little or no return to local jurisdictions with no environmental protection (case in point, Alberta), elections have become mindless.

As there’s an election on the horizon, readers can change that. Vote with Cecil in mind. He paid dearly for change.

– Dave Milton, Grand Forks