During the recent byelection campaign in Cumberland South, Progressive Conservative leader and candidate Jamie Baillie promised to take a stand on the Chignecto Game Sanctuary in the legislature, and he lived up to that promise this week by introducing Bill 129.
Baillie’s proposed legislation would amend the Wilderness Area Protection Act to allow the use of off-highway vehicles on existing trails, routes and roads within a designated wilderness area. It also would give those holding renewable leases to camps and cottages in the wilderness areas the ability to renew those leases.
The legislation would not take away from the Cumberland Wilderness campaign to preserve the land and protect it from industrial development, and would not hamper the province from reaching its goal of protecting 12 per cent of its land base by 2015. It would, however, prevent the enhanced protection status from punishing those who have used the sanctuary recreationally for generations.
Not to get ‘I told you so’ about it, but Baillie’s proposal is precisely what this newspaper has been calling for since the debate on the issue intensified in recent years.
All that being said, the chances of Baillie’s opposition bill passing in a House controlled by a majority NDP government are probably slim. Even though the Liberal and NDP candidates in the Cumberland South byelection were in agreement with Baillie on the issue, that does not mean their parties will find no fault with the legislation.
But the rookie leader deserves credit for taking a stand on an important issue to his constituents, and will be trusted to continue the fight.