Fur is flying over RCMP hats

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Sarah Choi (graphic)

Sarah Choi (graphic)

The anti-fur people said “stop the muskrat hats.” They said this over and over, and one day in August, far from the chills of winter, the RCMP Corps Sergeant-Major, Darren Campbell, wrote them and said, “RCMP officers stationed in areas that are not considered extreme will be issued the [wool] toque only. Those that will require the fur hat will have to request approval.” The anti-fur people were very excited by this idea. But then, the scary bigwigs from Parliament Hill said NO! to reducing the amount of fur hats, and the anti-fur people got upset again. The hat makers, on the other hand, grinned wildly as they stitched the three pelts it takes to make an officer’s hat.

I chose to tell it like a bedtime story because it’s really all very silly on the outside, but here is the truth: it all comes down to jobs, votes, and pure cold politics. The government officials—Leona Aglukkaq, the Minister of the Environment, for example—never said they loved muskrats, and they never said they hated them. Whom do they love? The voters and the votes they bring. The voters in question are the citizens of northern rural communities that see the money coming in from trapping muskrats.  They love them because—and lets be honest—saving some muskrats isn’t going to change “radical animal rights activists” (Aglukkaq’s words, not mine) to vote Conservative in the next election.

“So lets forget about the lost cause votes and do our best to keep the ones we can,” said the metaphorical scary bigwigs from Parliament.  Then the scary bigwigs feigned interest in kale in order to feel better.

It might be as simple as protecting trapping jobs, or as complicated as juxtaposing the trapping tradition in Canada against the personal essay written from the POV of a muskrat stuck in a humane trap for 147 hours, but here’s what I think: it feels like a lobbyist pushing the RCMP around one way, then the other. Why can’t each officer just pick his or her own hat? That makes the most sense to me because that’s what it really comes down to: hats. As a citizen who enjoys having competent police officers around, I agree with the officers’ moms and grandmas. Let’s just make sure our guys and gals are warm out there. We might not feel it in Victoria, but it’s a pretty damn cold country here in Canada, so as long as the cops are keeping cozy, then that’s all I care about.

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