Saturday, March 08, 2008


Is there any uniformed service in this country that won't someday be armed?

Wardens in most of Canada's national parks will soon carry handguns, Alberta MP Myron Thompson confirmed Friday.

He said $12 million has been set aside in the federal budget to arm the wardens, although an exact timeframe for when they will get their weapons has not been announced.

He said wardens face too many dangers in vast, isolated parks not to be armed.

"They deal with all kinds of situations in the park, everything from poachers to people being in the backcountry," the MP from Wild Rose, north of Calgary, told CBC News.

In British Columbia, however, park rangers will not be given guns. The province's parks are already patrolled by conservation officers who carry weapons and B.C. Environment Minister Barry Penner said there's no need to arm rangers as well."

The ruling that led to this announcement can be found through a link here. The thinking behind it seems to centre on the fact that part of the park warden's job outside of telling people where to find toilets and campsites and support for ecosystem monitoring and like, involves enforcing provisions of the criminal code and other acts, such as liquor. These sometimes includes managing encounters with the armed and agitated, or just the agitated. This is a role that has expanded in recent years. The focus, as you may have guessed, is on warden protection. The underlying theme is on potential: if someday we have to use lethal force, we want it available, even though it has not happened yet and if you arm us, we'll feel safer. Tricksy ground, that.

But instead of asking why park wardens are taking on a larger role in law enforcement and looking at it from a systemic perspective, they're now being armed. Like customs. This is a cheap solution - wardens are not police, nor are they conservation officers - not all uniformed agencies are the same. Police personnel go through an intensive discipline oriented paramilitary training system aimed developing professionalism (though I question that now the electro-fun these types are having) team cohesion and compentence with firearms because understanding the role of force is critical component of their job. Every new government agency that is armed seems to be in occupations where force is a secondary or tertiary to its primarly role of friendly and helpful interaction with everyday people, often visitors to this country.

Next it'll be municipal parking enforcement. Can you say creeping. police. state?

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