I was encouraged to pick up my August issue of Ontario Out of Doors and notice an
article on the Special Purpose Account (SPA) authored by Angelo Lombardo.
Finally, I thought the OFAH would be joining the chorus of hunters and anglers who
have been looking for transparency and accountability of this account. I was disappointed
to read that the position taken by the executive director of the OFAH was to claim
that everything was fine with the SPA without offering any supporting documentation.
In fact, Mr.Lombardo insinuated that the government would eliminate the SPA if questions
of the account continued. Did the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry threaten
the removal of the SPA because of inquiries regarding the transparency of the fund?
Questions remain unanswered as to why the Government used SPA money for psychiatric
services and for buying and selling houses. The Government alone should be responsible
to publicly defend their management of the SPA, not Anglers and hunters. Additionally,
staff numbers that support fish and wildlife management are down by more than 300%
while service has declined for fish and wildlife programs. These are concerns that
could be addressed and understood by the angler or hunter if there was transparency
in this government.
As a founding committee member that helped create the SPA and a past President of
Ducks Unlimited Canada, I have a great understanding of how the account operates.
I would request the OFAH Hotline offer those who were criticised by Mr. Lombardo
for raising the issue of openness and transparency on the SPA an equal opportunity
to explain their concerns in a future publication of Hotline.
OFAH does not need to be defending Government's lack of accountability, but instead
working with hunters and anglers to achieve our shared goals - one of them should
be openness and transparency on how our money is spent.
If Government were more open and accountable, people wouldn't need to speculate.
OFAH should support anglers and hunters who are asking for accountability and transparency
in how their money is spent instead of trying to shut down debate. Many issues need
to be resolved, and all hunting and angling organizations need to work together
and help the government make the right decisions. However working together requires
trust which does not exist without the government being open and accountable.