Stephen Harper makes $15M conservation promise - and sparks Scouts Canada complaint

Stephen Harper was in British Columbia on Friday where he promised to spend $15 million to protect salmon habitats and estuaries. But the event elicited a complaint from Scouts Canada officials who said they didn't agree to have some of their young members stand in uniform alongside the Conservative leader.

Uniformed Scouts look on as Conservative leader promises funding to protect salmon habitats

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper speaks to supporters at a campaign stop on the shores of McIvor Lake in Campbell River, B.C., on Friday. (/Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Stephen Harper's promise to spend $15 million to protect salmon habitats was overshadowed on Friday by a complaint from Scouts Canada officials who said they didn't agree to have some of their young members stand in uniform next to the Conservative leader.

Harper said a re-elected Conservative government would take additional steps to restore and enhance B.C.'s salmon habitat and marine environment.

Harper was in the riding of North Island-Powell River to promise an extended partnership with the Pacific Salmon Foundation and $15 million to restore and conserve British Columbia estuaries.

He said the investment will help to preserve the lower Harrison River's salmon ecosystem.

Harper also announced a partnership with the province of British Columbia, First Nations, local communities, and conservation groups to protect a strait between Vancouver Island and the mainland coast.

"I am pleased to say that a re-elected Conservative government is going to complete the establishment of a national marine conservation area reserve in the southern part of the Strait of Georgia," Harper said.

Scouts Canada complaint

Friday's event in B.C. drew the ire of Scouts Canada officials who said they didn't agree to have some of their young members stand in uniform alongside the Conservative leader.

The Conservatives used children in Scouts uniforms as part of their campaign event in British Columbia where Harper promised to help the province's fisheries.
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and wife Laureen meet with members of Scouts Canada at a campaign stop on the shores of McIvor Lake in Campbell River, B.C. Scouts Canada said its non-partisan election policy had been violated. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

A spokesman for Scouts Canada said it is against the organization's policy to have anyone in a Scouts uniform involved in political activities.

John Petitti said the organization is trying to ascertain what happened, because the Scouts were not sanctioned to be at the event, adding the non-partisan policy is regularly reinforced with Scouts leaders across the country.

A spokesman for the Conservative campaign said the party welcomed the participation of anyone who was at the event.

A video showing children reading some of the emails released at the criminal trial of Senator Mike Duffy backfired on the NDP earlier this week.

The New Democrats were criticized over social media for using children in a political message.

All week, Harper faced questions about the Mike Duffy trial and how senior staff in the Prime Minister's Office were in the loop on chief of staff Nigel Wright's infamous $90,000 payment to the senator.

Former PMO lawyer Benjamin Perrin told court Wednesday that Ray Novak, now Harper's current chief of staff, was among those who were told of Wright's plan.

Novak continues to travel with the prime minister's campaign caravan, but the party has been studious in keeping him away from reporters.

With files from CBC News


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