The dangers of e-mail and intemperate responses

In the news is the resignation  from Cabinet of Kootenay East MLA and Minister of State for Mining, Bill Bennett.

Bennett was outed on an angry e-mail he had sent to Maarten Hart, the President of the Fernie Rod & Gun Club after Hart had sent him an e-mail saying:

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.

The issue referred to in the e-mail is the provincial Wildlife Allocations Policy and Procedures Review that has been ongoing in BC for a couple of years now. These policies set out the percentage of the allowable harvest for big-game species that will be available for B.C. resident hunters as well as for non-residents. It is presently being re-written by the Ministry of Environment with input from the B.C. Wildlife Federation, a province-wide association of resident hunters and anglers, and the Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia.

Bennett was obviously upset by the criticism that he wasn’t doing anything to assist on this file and I suspect that he and Mr. Hart had probably crossed swords before. To Bennett’s credit, he had done a lot of work on this issue and was actually working on it when he saw the e-mail. Which is no doubt what flipped him.

Most people have sent an ill-conceived e-mail at one time or another, but for most of us there is no serious retribution. A person in public office is held to higher standards and Bennett has paid the price. But he recognized his problem and took the correct path tendering his resignation as Minister of State for Mining to the Premier.

Regardless, my respect for Mr. Bennett is undiminished. He works hard and he works smart. You can’t ask for much more than that from a politician.

The sad part is that Bill Bennett has been a real friend to B.C.’s resident anglers and hunters. This should not have been the hill that he died on.

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