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Tough luck about those tours

Prime Minister Stephen Harper won't intervene in Parks Canada's decision to end guided tours of the S.S. Klondike and Dredge No. 4.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper won’t intervene in Parks Canada’s decision to end guided tours of the S.S. Klondike and Dredge No. 4.

During his stop at the Minto mine this week, Harper was asked whether his support for mining in the territory would extend to the historic pieces of the industry-turned-tourist attractions.

Both the massive dredge outside of Dawson and the sternwheeler in Whitehorse help keep a lot of tourists, and their dollars, in the territory before they travel through to Alaska. Guided tours of both sites will end this season, thanks to Parks Canada cuts.

Parks Canada officials say they see no way of continuing the tours under the constraints prescribed by the Prime Minister’s Office. Harper interprets that to mean that the attractions aren’t popular enough.

“Parks Canada looks at public demand, obviously the seasonal nature and the volume of demand, before determining how it allocates resources to those services, and that is re-examined on an ongoing basis,” he said.

Harper defended his government’s spending on parks projects. “This government has overseen the greatest expansion of Parks Canada, in Canada’s North, ever,” he said.

During his trip to the Yukon last year, Harper visited the building site of what is now the new Kluane National Park Visitor Centre and the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations’ Da Ku Cultural Centre in Haines Junction. His last northern tour also announced the expansion of protected land and green areas in the territories by 10 per cent, said Harper.

On Wednesday, Harper established the Naatsh’ihch’oh National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories, which brings Canada’s national parks total to 44.