Stetski named as National Parks critic in NDP shadow cabinet
Published by Joel Tansey in the Golden Star
November 17th, 2015 - 11:45am
Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski has worked with parks, both nationally and provincially, for much of his working life. With that in mind, it seemed like a no-brainer to make him the critic for National Parks in the NDP’s shadow cabinet, an appointment that the party officially announced on Nov. 12.
Stetski began his career in government working as a seasonal park naturalist in Pacific Rim National Park while he was attending university. He later worked as the assistant chief of interpretation for Manitoba Parks after graduating and as manager of visitor services for provincial parks in the Lower Mainaland and Vancouver Island regions of the province. Finally, Stetski moved to Cranbrook and served as the manager for East Kootenay parks, which was later amalgamated to encompass all of the Kootenays.
“I spent 35 years working with and for parks, so it’s very much a personal interest and a professional interest,” Stetski said.
Stetski had requested that NDP leader Thomas Mulcair appoint him to this portfolio two weeks ago.
“(It) was number one on my list,” Stetski said.
Stetski was critical of how the Conservative Party had dealt with National Parks during their nearly 10 years in office, specifically their cuts to Parks Canada in the 2012 budget.
“In 2013 the Environment Commissioner warned that Conservative cuts were jeopardizing the environmental health of National Parks. Fifty per cent were determined to be not in good ecological health and more than a third were in serious decline,” Stetski said.
He also cited a 2014 report that said that more than half of Park assets across Canada are in poor or very poor condition. Yoho National Park has also had cuts to its winter services in recent years, a detriment to local businesses, Stetski says.
“There’s been a lot of decline in both ecological integrity and visitor services opportunities over the last 10 years in particular,” Stetski said.