I don't hunt but it is an interesting debate. It's part of a much larger dialog about the balance to strike between protecting the interests of local residents and accepting foreign money to ensure that local residents enjoy the benefits of a vibrant economy. The answer is surely somewhere in the middle - very few people would suggest that we close our doors completely or that we remove all limits.
At first glance, it does seem like the new hunting regulations have gone further than is reasonable to attract foreign money at the expense of limiting the ability of local residents to participate in the hunt.
There are some similarities to the debate about the construction of Vantage College on the UBC campus. The college only accepts international students (who have to pay a very high fee,) and then they are basically guaranteed a spot in the main stream of the university for their second year. Some people are crying foul - claiming that it allows foreigners to basically buy their way into a university degree. Foreign students who do not meet the normal admittance requirements now have an alternate entry path that is not available to local students. Even if you have the money, Canadians are not allowed to attend Vantage College. Arguments could potentially be made that the high fees could subsidize Canadian students and that the new seats could be entirely incremental.
In a similar light, Microsoft just received approval to bypass the Labour Market Assessment so that they can bring in large numbers of Temporary Foreign Workers without even considering Canadians for those jobs. The explanation is that the "training center" will also create a handful of long term jobs for Canadians and that Microsoft wouldn't otherwise consider hiring Canadians for these roles so there is no actual negative impact. Questions are being asked. What benefit does this actually bring to Canada? What potential costs does it bring?
Foreign ownership of real estate is another related debate. CBC: "Alberta limits non-residents to two plots of agricultural or recreational land not exceeding a total of 20 acres"? Should similar rules be applied to other types of property such as single family homes?
And of course, foreign ownership of companies and resources is another large chapter in the discussion with many clear pros and cons. It's hard to participate in the global economy if you close your doors to foreign investment. At the same time, are you comfortable with all of your major resources being owned by foreign entities?
The ability for people to buy permanent resident status has been an active area of debate this year. The old program was scrapped but a new one has been introduced. CBC: "The Canadian government will give permanent residency to approximately 50 millionaire immigrant investors and their families under a pilot program set to begin in the new year."
Understandably, the rules that are the most contentious are those that give foreigners preferred or exclusive access.
In the case of the hunting regulations, my understanding is that is the case with some of the LEH hunts for big game where foreign hunters are guaranteed access and residents must participate in a lottery.
"For resident hunters, however, the numbers loom large. They already have to apply for big-game permits in limited-entry hunts, and often fail for years to get a permit to hunt animals such as moose, sheep or elk. They feel the government has turned its back on them in favour of high-paying foreign hunters, who are guaranteed access as long as they hire a guide."
Of course, the issue is muddied by the fact that the guides are local residents and they benefit significantly from the foreign hunt. That turns it into a somewhat simpler debate between two groups of locals.
To a large extent, the "right" answer is one that is consistent with what we would expect from our primary trading partners. If we want the ability to own vacation property in the US, we should probably not introduce a new law that would prevent US citizens from doing the same here. If hunters in BC want the ability to go and hunt in other jurisdictions, they should probably have regulations here that are consistent with what they would want in those other areas. In this situation, a case is being made that we now have rules that are exceptionally favourable to foreign hunters compared to what is normal and compared to what our hunters would expect to receive when they travel to other jurisdictions.