Part II - Bear Referendum
Chapter 24 - How An Egg Can Crush A Rock
July 8, 1996, Monday, sunny, 30+oC
[14:51 @ Ruth Madsen’s house in Kamloops]
I called Darlene at 08:45 and arranged to meet her for lunch at the Chapter View Point restaurant, where we met back in 1992 for the first and only time while I was on a business trip, and at that fleetingly. I happened to be having breakfast at a window table of this same restaurant on the top of a hill with a panoramic river view. I was about done when the maitre-d' led an attractive 30-ish woman to the table next to mine. After she had made her order and was waiting for her breakfast to arrive, we exchanged a couple of glances - partly due to us both being alone. By then, I had finished my breakfast, and was waiting for the waiter to bring me my check. We exchange another glance, and this one contained a smile. The waiter arrived with the check and I got up to leave. "You dropped this," she said, handing me a slip of paper. It was a Future Shop receipt. I thanked her, but surprised myself by saying, “It’s only a receipt, but you can make it very valuable by putting your name and phone number on it.” And she did. Since then, we have kept up a warm though sporadic phone communication, though we never did meet again. She has a boyfriend, so our interaction has always been in the context of a caring friendship.
I received a call from a woman called Bronwin, who is helping Ruth organize tonight’s presentation, and who is also a media person. She told me that she would mobilize all the Kamloops media to the event, and sure enough, CBC-TV called me at the restaurant for a live interview at 13:10, while I was having lunch with Darlene.
I arrived at the restaurant a few minutes late, since I had some trouble relocating the place. By the time I pulled into the parking lot, Darlene was there waiting for me, and as soon as I got out of the car, she gave me a warm hug. Having seen her only once, and at that more than four years ago, I wouldn’t instantly recognize her in the street. But there she was, "as if it were just yesterday". Now, having gazed at her face for two hours, I’ll recognize her next time, anywhere.
While I was phone-interviewed at 10:00 by Clair of CHNL, Darlene read some of the press clippings. After that, she said, “Now I really want to come to your presentation. But tonight, as last night, I have to work.” We hugged a long good-bye.
After the breakfast, I went to exchange the cell phone, then to the Mazda dealership to pick up the set of spark-plug cables I ordered from Prince George. The car is running smooth as butter again. Now, I notice she is encrusted in an inch of road dirt.
The TV interview by Gary Aldus of CFJC (CBC/CTV) went just as smoothly. After that, I called Bronwin who told me that all media have been contacted, and many would attend the presentation tonight, and that she saw the TV interview (which I missed), and thought I did an “excellent job”.
[22:48] This evening’s presentation was a success. About 40 people showed up, with hunters outnumbering anti-hunters more than 3 to 1, some of them again looking familiar. Again I experienced the initial apprehension when I saw the number of 4X4s with gun racks in the parking lot as we (Ruth and I) arrived. But once I walked in and looked them in the eye, the apprehension disappeared, as in times before, replaced by a sense of moral fortitude that felt invincible.
Bronwin was another kind of MC - strong, dynamic, hardline, no BS, straight-shooting and fair. Right from the start, she set down rules: one speaker at a time, and if you want to speak, raise your hand first, and no interrupting Anthony Marr, and when called upon to speak, first stated you name and the organization you represent. If you don't like these rules, challenge them now, or abide . No one challenged them. The hunters were kept on the straight and narrow, not that they didn’t try. So the proceedings were relatively civil, relative, that is, to Prince George. In the end, I was applauded by 50% of the audience, when the hunters numbered at least 75%. That means something.
We signed up about a dozen people.
One woman remarked to me when I was packing up, “Seeing you dispel their challenges one by one, it’s like intellectual magic.” I didn’t know what to say, which seems to contradict this compliment.
In the audience were at least three media people: a young woman called Michele Young of Kamloops Daily News, another young woman from Kamloops This Week, and Clair, yet another young woman, of CHNL-AM, whom I talked to by phone this morning. All three were quite openly sympathetic. Before Clair began our interview, she shielded her mike and said, “Off the record, I’m with you.”
After the media people had left, however, there was a little drama in the parking lot. When emerged from the building, slide projector in hand, I was confronted by a line of about a dozen hunters about 50' away, blocking my way to my car about 100' away. I had 5 options: to turn back into the building and wait it out, to stand there and do nothing, to walk away aimlessly, to slink around them to get to the car, or to walk right through them. Since the shortest distance between points A and B is a straight line, and since I was a little tire, I decided on Option #4. I picked out the ring-leader and walked straight towards him, while extending my hand cordially, saying, "Thank you for coming to this event. Without you guys, this event wouldn't be as successful as it was." He did not take my hand. "Excuse me." And with that, I aimed for a narrow gap, which parted like the Red Sea.
All in all, not bad for a day’s work, But there remains one more challenge, and a huge one at that.
“Intellectual magic, indeed, said Raminothna smilingly. And she added, "What is the most amazing feat of magic you have ever seen?” Raminothna asked me just now.
“I don’t know if it was David Copperfield or Doug Henning or somebody else, but he made not only a camel, but an elephant, pass through the eye of a needle.”
“As an intellectual equivalent of these physical magicians, how do you rate yourself?”
“I’m no magician. That woman was just making an analogy.”
“You’d better be better, much better, than Copperfield or Henning, because the challenge you face is definitely much more difficult than theirs, and infinitely more meaningful."
"Uh oh. What now""
Whereas they are illusionists who mock reality with their sleights of hand in their world which is the stage, you are to be a disillusionist, who revere reality and will reveal it by undoing the sleights of mind in all decrepit yet still overpowering illusions of old, on your stage which is the world,” said Raminothna.
July 9, 1996, Tue.
The Kamloops Daily News
by Michele Young
Activist pleads for bear-hunt ban
With calm and respect, Anthony Marr faced rapid-fire questioning from hunters and threw back a plea for them to stop hunting bears.
The Western Canada Wilderness Committee’s bear campaigner stopped in Kamloops Monday night on his province-wide road tour to get awareness and supporters for his bear-hunt ban referendum project.
Marr, a Chinese Canadian, went after Asians for their use of bear and other animal parts in medicine. While he talks to high school kids in Vancouver, especially at schools with high Asian numbers, and tries to get information back to China and Hong Kong, changing centuries of tradition isn’t fast or easy.
Canadian Grizzlies are threatened - one step from being endangered, Black bears are not. But Marr is afraid legal hunting and poaching will take its toll on both.
Hunter Gordon Chamberlain asked Marr why he didn’t work with hunters, guide-outfitters, trappers, conservation staff and others who are against poaching. “Can’t we work together to achieve the same end?” he question Marr.
Marr said the problem is hunting and poaching combined, and both have to stop.
Another hunter noted that most conservation funding comes from hunting. If hunters are alienated, that money will disappear, he said.
Marr said that the funding comes from hunting license fees, not donations from hunters out of the goodness of their hearts. “If hunters really do care for wildlife, they would donate funds as WCWC members do, whether they could continue to hunt or not. As a result of WCWC members’ donations, WCWC has succeeded in working with government to preserve South Moresby, Carmanah, Clayoquot, the Stein, the Kutzeymateen, among other wildlife habitat.”
... And he challenged the hunters listening, “If you believe that the public is on your side, you could hold your own referendum to reinstate hunting the bears once their security has been assured.”...
July 10, 1996, Wed.
Kamloops This Week
by Michelle Daubney
Environmentalists, hunters lock horns
Environmentalists and hunters butted heads at an meeting Monday night.
Anthony Marr of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee brought his presentation about saving BC’s bears to a group of Kamloops environmentalists and hunters.
Concerned about the possibly endangerment of the Black and Grizzly bears, Marr is traveling the province asking residents to slow down hunting in BC to sustain levels.
“At the heart of the problem are habitat loss, hunting and poaching. Bears in Canada are not yet endangered - lets keep it that way.”
... Marr likened our present approach to exploiting wildlife to “giving our babies to a known child abuser.”
He quoted the BC government’s poaching estimate, showing the discrepancy between it and the continental estimate. “The BC government estimates one bear poached for every four bears legally killed. Continental authorities, however, estimate at least one if not two bears poached for every bear legally killed. Further, the prohunting Canadian Wildlife Federation, in their publication on poaching, singled out BC and Alberta as the two most poached provinces in the country, so if the continental average is at least one-to-one, then it should be even higher in BC, perhaps two-to-one, instead of lower - the one-to-four that the prohunting BC government projects,” said Marr.
However, hunters and hunting-guides from the area raised concerns regarding the argument’s validity. “I appreciate the endangered problem. But I feel it is a world population problem, which will not go away by getting rid of hunting,” said Glen Greger.
Kim Robinson, a guide/hunter, confronted Marr with concerns about the numbers he was quoting. “You seem to quote these numbers only when they suit your purpose. You can’t quote on one side and back off the other.”
Marr replied, “When I’m asked how many Grizzly bears there are in the province, for example, I present the entire range of estimates from respected sources I’ve ever been exposed to, and that is from as low as 4,000 to as high as 13,000, whereas hunters, in order to justify continued hunting, quote only 13,000. Who are the ones quoting numbers to suit their purpose is obvious.”...
July 9, 1996, Tuesday, sunny, 30oC
[10:02 @ Ruth Madsen’s house in Kamloops]
More thoughts on last night's Kamloops event. The difference between it and the Port Alberni and Prince George events is in the way it was run. Whereas the other two were pretty much free-for-alls, the Kamloops meeting was tightly controlled. Bronwin, the MC, set the rules and executed them stringently. Absolutely nothing got out of line. No abuse was tolerated. I felt totally protected. The debate was there, but it felt more like a discussion. We accomplished what we set out to do and signed up quite a few people. These are the upside. The downside is that the article is on page A2, versus the Prince George one’s being on page A1.
Which approach is better? Whichever it happens to be.
Now, Michael (Erickson, Ruth’s late-40ish boyfriend) is making me a “power breakfast” to get me started on the road. Ruth has gone off early this morning to join Jim Cooperman to take Vicki Husband on a hike through the Seymour Arm Wilderness to view the clumps of inland old growth trees, some measuring 15’ in diameter. They invited me to participate, but after breakfast, I’ll be heading towards yet another hinterland town - Golden.
I should be feeling high after Kamloops, and I was, even when I began writing this entry, but no longer, not now. As I prepare to strike off on the road again, I feel overcome by a sense of futility. With all the media pre-exposure, in a sizably city like Kamloops, only a dozen supporters showed up. Where is the 78% in the Bear Watch Angus Reed poll? To stop trophy hunting? It would be like an egg trying to crush a rock.
“Is this yet another way of saying ‘impossible’?” Raminothna asked me.
“Why don’t you show me how a rock can be crushed by an egg?”
“By the egg becoming a child capable of using a hammer. Better yet, also a chisel,” said Raminothna.
Good night, Christopher.
The Fortunate and The Called Upon
at your service
Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)
www.DearHomoSapiens.blogspot.com (AM's 3rd-book-in-the-making)