If reelected, the PM says he’ll launch a bursary that will help low-income families get outside.
One of Justin Trudeau’s campaign promises is to implement a program called Experience Canada that would allow 75,000 families to spend up to four days camping in the Canadian wilderness. As the CBC described it,
“That program would include camping accommodations and a travel bursary of up to $2,000 to allow lower-income families to experience places across like Killarney, Banff, Gros Morne and the Cape Breton Highlands, according to the Liberals. The program also would partner with Via Rail to make the opportunities accessible and affordable for even more Canadian families, the Liberals say.”
The announcement, made on September 26, has been met with ridicule. Political commentators have called it “the stupidest thing they’ve heard so far in the election” and described it as “peak privilege.” John Ivison, writing for the National Post, said that “almost every alternative use for those dollars is more appropriate.”
But what if those commentators took a step down from their pedestals and thought back to when they were little? Adults may scoff at the idea of a camping trip paid for by the federal government, but ask a child what they think and their eyes will light up. Few things are as magical to a child as sleeping in a tent.
Camping experiences are often life-changing for children. They create memories that live on for entire lifetimes; they spark a fascination with the natural world, which can fuel environmentalism; and they allow for a healthy element of risk that kids are rarely exposed to these days.
At a time when children are spending too little time outdoors, and are more restricted than ever by paranoid over-parenting, and when we need people to understand what they’re fighting for in the face of climate crisis, Trudeau’s proposal is a breath of fresh air. It has a tangible, immediate benefit. Far from being a waste of money, it is a smart investment in its citizens that will improve physical health, boost mental resilience, provide valuable education about Canada’s geography, and make a whole bunch of kids incredibly happy.
Way to go, Trudeau! (Now can we please sell the pipeline?)