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Editorial: The political influence of OHV users

Off-highway vehicle (OHV) users have more sway with the UCP government than all of Alberta’s doctors, teachers and unions combined.

In April 2020, the province attempted to restrict OHVs – quads, dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles – in order to prevent Alberta from facing the double whammy of a pandemic and a major wildfire.

It took less than a week for the government to reverse its decision.

Ostensibly, it was because different local conditions, such as spring snow cover and moisture levels, allowed for varying restrictions.

But Premier Jason Kenney himself noted the backlash from this decision during an April 16 press conference, and are we supposed to believe that the government didn’t know that there was still some snow out there when they gave that order?

Now consider Exhibit B: Alberta has recently proposed charging fees for random camping on provincial public lands in the Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains, including Willmore Wilderness Park north of Jasper.

According to the Alberta Wilderness Association, the UCP broke its promise since its election platform had only pledged to apply a fee for OHVs.

Perhaps a fee is necessary to sustain public lands, but OHV users ought to contribute more as these vehicles typically cause more damage to trails and the environment than other users, and yet everyone is forced to shoulder the same burden.

Such decisions reflect the true priorities of this government.

It might also simply be that the squeaky quad gets the grease.

Either way, this ability for advocacy is astounding if not enviable.

When the teachers push to revise the draft K-6 curriculum or doctors try to hash out a new contract, maybe they can learn some lessons from the OHV community.

Peter Shokeir,

editor@fitzhugh.ca

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