Energy minister slams enviros

Last week Bill Bennett, British Columbia's energy minister, sent an e-mail to his constituents lashing out at environmentalists, particularly those in the United States, for their attempts to expand Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park into B.C.

The e-mail, which Bennett denied sending personally but has taken responsibility for, refers to unrelenting "urban-based enviros" and "eco-fascists."

"These 'protectors' of the earth will use whatever legal, political, dishonest means they can muster with their American Foundation money to expand their park kingdom," Bennett wrote.

Bennett went on to single out Sen. Max Baucus of Montana for goading President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper into issuing a joint communiqué on the "sustained protection" of the transboundary Flathead River Valley during the G20 Summit in Toronto last month.

Bennett apologized for the e-mail's "clearly inappropriate" language, but reiterated his opposition to a national park extending from Alberta into the southeastern corner of B.C. bordering Glacier National Park.

"I have strong feelings around the importance of protecting those recreational opportunities like fishing, hunting and camping in the Flathead," he said in a statement.

Dave Hadden, director of Headwaters Montana, calls Bennett's comments "unfortunate and ignorant," and says he's wrong to believe Americans want the Flathead protected more than Canadians. He cites a 2008 poll, conducted by McAllister Opinion Research, which found that 73 percent of residents living in the East Kootenay, Nelson-Creston and Columbia River-Revelstoke areas of B.C. favor protecting the land.

"We need to remember that Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park was created out of the cooperation and good work of Canadian and U.S. Rotary Clubs in 1932," Hadden says. "A strong majority understands that the park is not complete and that the missing piece is the southeast one-third of the B.C. Flathead Valley."

That expansion, according to Bennett's e-mail, would be environmentalists adding "another chunk of their favourite colour to the map of the world."

"The line is drawn clearly," Bennett wrote. "We either stand strong together against the loss of the Flathead Valley to the eco facists [sic], or we will lose the Flathead."

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