I spy!

The president of the Fernie Rod and Gun Club got an unexpected response from Minister of State for Mining Bill Bennett when he wrote to complain about proposed changes to the provincial government's big game allocation process. In an email sent back in November, Maarten Hart claimed those changes would give guides and outfitters an unfair advantage over resident hunters. And he didn't mince words when making that claim, writing that the Campbell administration "bows to the almighty dollar and faces east three times each day (not to Mecca, but to Wall Street)". But, a reply sent out last month, Minister Bennett was even more blunt. "It is my understanding that you are an American, so I don't give a shit what your opinion is on Canada or Canadian residents," he informed Dr. Hart. He then went on to describe the veterinarian as "dumb" and alleged he might be "an American spy who is actually interested in helping the US create a park in the Flathead" - a reference to Dr. Hart's opposition to coal mining in that watershed, which stretches into the United States. The following is a complete copy of that email exchange.

From: Maarten Hart
Sent: 19 November 2006 19:52
To: Bennett.MLA, Bill
Cc: Kent Petovello
Subject: Big Game Allocations

Dear Bill:

I am writing to let you know that the proposed big game allocation process is an insult to the residents of British Columbia and insult to the rights of BC hunters. Giving Guide/Outfitters such a large piece of the pie and guaranteeing their rights is absurd. I know that your government bows to the almighty dollar and faces east three times each day (not to Mecca, but to Wall Street), but even given that bent, the fact is that the resident hunter provides 100 times the revenue that nonresidents do. Look to the south and see that guides take a distant second to residents in every state; as they should here. Please respond to the wishes of your constituency and let Minister Penner know that this is unacceptable.

Sincerely, Maarten Hart
Fernie Rod & Gun Club
President

***

From: Bennett, Bill SMIN:EX
Sent: 29 January 2007 20:55
To: chavenord@shaw.ca
Cc: pezderic@cablerocket.com; george_wilson@elkvalleycoal.ca; carmenpurdy@yahoo.ca; kpetovello@telus.net; gmrocca@shaw.ca
Subject: Your email of November 19th

Mr. Hart,

I am in my hotel room in Vancouver tonight reviewing the wildlife allocation in preparation for a meeting I have with minister Penner and I came across your November 19th email. I have been reading through this stuff since 5 pm today and meanwhile downstairs in this hotel is the biggest mining conference in BC that I ought to be participating in. Fortunately, I am almost done with my review. Your email, mercifully, was at the very bottom of my pile of paper.
Let me be very direct with you, as you were with me.

* It is my understanding that you are an American, so I don't give a shit what your opinion is on Canada or Canadian residents.

* Our government does not "…bow to the almighty dollar and face east to Wall Street each day…", but we do recognize a fool when we come across one. How do you think you are representing the interests of your members when you insult the BC hunter's strongest advocate, yours truly. I have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to sort out this allocation file. It is complex, something that you obviously have enormous difficulty with. You don't know who your friends are, which makes you dumb.

* Don't lecture me about "listening to the wishes of my constituents". As someone who has spent the past six years working my ass off for my constituents, I am not about to take that kind of bullshit from someone who, for all I know, is up here as an American spy who is actually interested in helping the US create a park in the Flathead.

I will continue to work for hunters and anglers in the East Kootenay as I always have and you will continue to be a self-inflated, pompous, American know-it-all.

Have a nice day.
Bill Bennett

16 Comments

My favorite part has to be where Bennett uses his mastery of the English language to slam Hart: "which makes you dumb."

Who needs Winston Churchill when we've got Bennett's witty barbs?

Bennett can't talk that way as an MLA and for sure he can't be a minister of mines. It sure is refreshing though to hear such a candid exchange. I kind of like him a little more because he showed his human side. Wonder if he will run again. Talk like this could get him re-elected for years. Sounds like he was in the middle of a BC Federation of Labout convention and Jack Munro was training him in public speaking.

Someone didn't get a bowl of Count Chocula that morning.

WOW... Amazing... Bennett SNAPS ! Bennett has a tough job with many controversial issues, don't want to be in his shoes..
However, I do have to agree with Hart's opinion and comments, the residents should be put first, then the hunting guides/outfitters, then non-residents. Two years ago WLAP put forward the Fishing Angling Management Plan and the Residents were put first, then angling guides, then non-residents, in that order. Hunting allocations and regulations should follow the same protocol.

It's certainly more personalized than the bureaucratic form letter he's been sending out to people concerned about the effects of proposed mining in the Flathead Valley. But maybe he should have stuck to form letters after all.

So, ... now we see why Federal Ministers have civil servants doing their Ministerial correspondence!

Seriously, I have to agree that Bennett's humanity and candour are kind of refreshing, but unfortunately he unloaded his crankiness on a core BC Liberal constituency. Had he fired this blast at a group of anti-hunting, bird-watching, environmentalists from Vancouver he might have been Okay. As it happens, the shot ricochetted with deadly results.

i'm from America and i think the American should keep his nose and emails out of Canada's business. if more of us kept our nose out of other countries business maybe we wouldn't be so hated. good luck and God Bless you All

"I'm from America" ... holy mackeral, ginny ... 800 million other people occupy 34 independent sovereign states in North, South, and Central America.

"America" means the whole shebang, from North Pole to South Pole -- not just that belt across the belly of the North American continent delineated as the U.S. of America.

So, would the U.S. citizen like to re-phrase that?

It should come as no surprise to any one that Bennetts mouth as finally got him into trouble. It is not the first time the man has made some absolutley inappropriate remarks. It's just the firt time he put them down on paper. He's a hot head with a quick temper, and I'm sure he'll continue to be as abrasive as ever in the future.

I think think that Bill Bennett is a great man for the people of BC and what he said was put in layman's language maybe a little to colourful!
We should have more politicians with the guts oops fortatude to speak out against the gordo dicktatorship cabel

Definitely time for Bennett to go.

I am sure he sincerely regrets sending the email only because he got caught. It does reflect his consistent disregard for constituents (and anybody else)with opinions contrary to his own, labelling of anyone he considers having a conservation bias as US conspirators or unwelcome outsiders. I am sure he will be missed by his friends in the coal and mining industry with whom he rides roughshod over those who speak up to maintain wild places such as the Flathead.

Kudos to the Public Eye for posting complete versions of both exchanges between Hart and Bennett. None of the conventional news sources have done that and I don't think I'm imagining that each one had an obvious slant in the way quotes from the exchanges were dribbled out. Thank you for helping me make an informed decision concerning the players in this drama.

Bennett says he wrote the letter in an ill-advised flurried response arising from fatigue yet he took the time to copy 5 of his apparent supporters including Carmen Purdy who is now publicly backing Bennett.

hey ginny-I think marten hart is a canadian citizen who was born in the us

I'm proud to have Mr. Bennett as my MLA, so what if he shot his mouth off a bit. I have no specific opinion pro or con on the issue, I am also a resident hunter.

Mr. Hart is certainally within his rights to voice his concerns to Mr. Bennett, is it taking the high road by passing Mr. Bennetts reply to the NDP and on to the media.

Couldn't Mr. Hart have just told his mommy?

Definitely Kodos to Bennett.
I fully support what he wrote to MR.Hart-that fool of a "vet" IS a POMPOUS ASS and calling him only dumb was very kind of Mr. Bennett. I'm sure there were plenty of other emails sent to Bennett by this American who should just go home where he belongs. We don't want him here.

Leave a comment

Copyright © 2004 - Public Eye Mediaworks. Reproductions of any portion of this Website are permitted only with the expressed permission of Public Eye Mediaworks.
Canadian Web Hosting graciously provided by dotcanuck Web Services. Layout and graphics courtesy of Art Department Design.