Dear Editor: Kudos to The Western Star and staff writer Gary Kean for helping disabled senior Ted Bullen get his message out about the current disabled angler program by placing the issue on the front page of Saturday’s June 9 edition of The Western Star. Mr. Bullen wants the disabled angler program revised so that disabled people like himself can purchase a salmon angling license and have someone else designated to fill the salmon tags for him without having to be present on the river himself.
I think it is downright discriminatory that disabled people are being denied a share of this wonderful resource because the Outfitters Association of Newfoundland and Labrador and the groups that support them won’t allow it. Those are the same people that cause expat Newfoundlanders to require a guide in order to angle for salmon in their native province and prevent experienced anglers from being permitted to pass their fishing rod to novice anglers without having to use their own limited salmon tags to tag the fish.
The bias associated with this issue is also quite evident in the Supreme Court decision regarding Russell Rogers and disabled big game hunting. Most Newfoundlanders acquire a big game licence for the purpose of procuring meat for the table rather than to simply kill something. For the most part, it is non-resident hunters who come here to kill big game for the fun of it, not to consume it, and to take home the antlers rather than the meat of the animal.
Expecting a disabled person to accompany a designated angler or hunter is ludicrous. Many of them are unable to do so because of the limitations their disabilities cause.
The current regulations regarding disabled angling and hunting have been devised by outfitter groups in affiliation with government, and are designed in such a way as to discourage as many disabled people as possible from participating. It’s time to change this pathetic arrangement.
I suggest that Mr. Bullen and others — disabled or not — lobby our premier to have this disabled angler program revised so that a designated angler would be permitted to fill a disabled person’s salmon tags with or without that person being present on the river.
In the recent past Premier Dunderdale has demonstrated that she has a soft spot in her heart for seniors and disabled people. Perhaps she is the one who could be convinced to take on this issue and abolish this discrimination.
Jed Sampson, Port au Port