Kelvin Scott fires his black powder, smooth bore flintlock while colleague Jack Walton looks on during the 40th Annual Buffalo Shoot in Chilliwack, British Columbia July 21, 2012.
Up in my neck of the Ontario woods, some three hours beyond the nuclear-free zone and gang wars of Toronto, hunting is as sacred as property rights, Bible thumping and 4x4 trucks.
These are not bad things.
When the moose and deer hunts begin, for example, small near-north towns in Ontario like Bancroft (my locale), Huntsville, and Whitney — to name a few — become comparative ghost towns as the smell of cordite mingles with the falling of the last leaves of summer.
Finding tradesmen during this annual rite of autumn is nigh impossible. Most are in the bush. Or at their hunt camps. But they’re not fixing broken pipes or nailing down shingles. And they don’t expect to be asked.
The same goes on, undoubtedly, in such well-known and thriving hunting venues in the mountains and bush near places such as the Okanagan, Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay and the Maritimes.
So why then is Shaw Media, Calgary-based and carrier of Global TV stations in all those aforementioned towns and cities, cancelling the hunting shows it carries, even though these shows don’t cost Shaw or Global a dime to produce?
The shows — Canada in the Rough, The Canadian Tradition and Angler and Hunter Television — are produced at their own cost by those who hold the rights to them. They get their own sponsors to cover those costs, and then they buy the required airtime like any paid advertiser would do.
So what’s the deal? Is their money no good? Or is Shaw, after eight years of carrying Canada in the Rough, to cite one example, suddenly buying into the fallacy that hunters, including women and children, are a bunch of rednecks with a drooling lust for gratuitous violence and blood?
Shaw says this is not the case. It was ordinary Canadians — law-abiding farmers, hunters and sports shooting enthusiasts — who convinced the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to rightfully bring down the national gun registry for its privacy invasion of people who were breaking no law. Yet the left still reels, having convinced themselves there is no difference between a gangbanger with an unregistered handgun and a farmer with a varmint rifle.
Even with the striking down of the national gun registry (which covered rifles and shotguns), handguns and restricted weapons must still be registered, meaning those who mix the two registries are either blinded by their own ignorance or as thick as bricks when it comes to the law.
Yet they continue to demonize.
“This looks like a case of Shaw Media showing its personal bias against Canada’s hunting community because they don’t like firearms,” says Tony Bernardo, executive director of Canadian Institute for Legislative Action and spokesman for the Canadian Shooting Sports Association.
“It smacks of prejudicial abuse of sport shooters.
“It’s ridiculous,” he says, “to tar hunters and sport shooters with a criminal brush.”
If Bernardo is on the money, this kind of tarring is now focused on hunting shows being carried on Global which, if not popular, would have ceased production long ago instead of watching the profits roll up.
“Canada in the Rough is an excellent example of how a TV show educates hunters on how to enjoy their heritage sport and protect our outdoor resources at the same time,” says Bernardo. “Hunting is a great family activity that teaches responsibility and safety in the outdoors.”
Shaw, of course, was asked for comment — with direct questions as to whether Shaw objected to hunting or the graphic content involved, or whether the cancellations were the result of viewer complaints.
According to Shaw, it was none of the above.
“(The cancellations) were not due to viewer complaints or a hunting bias, concerns around violence or the quality of the production, but was based on the goal of broadening the appeal of our daytime programming and increasing viewership,” says Shaw spokesman Dervla Kelly.
“In fact, we did not renew a number of paid programs across our daytime schedule as we continually evaluate and adjust our schedule based on viewership.”
So there it is — he said/she said. But, considering the current anti-gun environment and its loud minority, don’t blame hunters for being skeptical. It’s not as if they have not been targeted before.
— Bonokoski is QMI Agency’s national editorial writer