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 with Rob Miskosky

Introducing Straight Talk

For the better part of our lives, decisions made that affect us or what we do are made by people we don’t know anything about. Elected politicians and non-elected public servants immediately come to mind. Generally, these are the people that make the decisions and policies you and I have to live by.

Just what is our Fish and Wildlife Division doing about CWD and other issues? Find out on page 28.
There is much argument about how decisions are made and how policies come into effect. Does a minister (elected official) present his or her desires to the public servant(s) for implementation, or does the public servant(s) provide expert advice and then make recommendations to the minister? Or, is there a “collaborative” working relationship between public servants and elected politicians?

Many might scoff at the idea there might actually be a working relationship between those elected and those appointed; however, most people would probably agree that this would be the best way to implement change.

But is it?

A minister might be far more concerned about public perception (votes) than the public servant is and because of this, not just good policies but many commonsense initiatives never see the light of day. As an example, I believe most in our Fish and Wildlife Division would support a limited grizzly bear season in those areas where the great bear’s numbers are beyond healthy; however, would you want to be the minister responsible for making that decision? Probably not because the backlash would be severe, even if it is the correct thing to do. So, being a public servant can often be a frustrating job, especially when much of the blame for a lack of proper decision-making is placed directly upon them.

Those making decisions for the hunting, fishing and trapping communities in Alberta work under the umbrella of our Fish and Wildlife Division. Most outdoorsmen and women will never get to know these individuals on a personal level, never get the chance to talk with them or understand how or why the decisions they make are implemented, or know what their thoughts are about the myriad of issues our fish and wildlife face. Because of this, it is easy to become disgruntled when a decision is made that affects us individually.

Many assume our public servants never leave their downtown offices and preach at us from ivory towers with little knowledge of the practical world below them. And, perhaps, in some instances that might be true but for the most part, I know these folks do what they do because they too love to be outdoors hunting, fishing and trapping.

Matt Besko
Beginning with this issue of AO, we will start sitting down with some of those public servants that have been tasked with managing our fish and wildlife resources and ask them some of the tougher questions related to our outdoor pursuits. That job has been given to well-known outdoor writer Ken Bailey in a monthly column called “Straight Talk”. Straight Talk will seek out those individuals whose decisions directly affect Alberta’s outdoor community and get some of the answers we’ve all been wanting to hear.

Our first interview is with Alberta’s Director of Wildlife, Matt Besko. I have had the pleasure of speaking with Matt on several occasions and have never left a conversation disappointed. Matt spent 38 days afield last hunting season chasing all manner of bird and big game and in his words, he “needs” to be out there so he can “talk to other hunters.”

You can read “Straight Talk” on page 28.

For previous Outdoor Pursuits click here.

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