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Free health care, little to no crime, an attempt to legalize pot and now a plan to expand the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park—Is there anything those Canadians can’t do?

Canadians have been batting around the idea of doubling the size of Waterton Lakes National Park, the northern sister of Glacier National Park. Not surprisingly, many of Montana’s recreation enthusiasts and conservationists think it’s a great idea.

Missoula’s own Mayor Mike Kadas supports the plan, as do mayors from Whitefish, Kalispell and Great Falls. And this summer the proposal garnered major support from beyond the borders of Montana and Canada. More than 4,500 park visitors from 32 nations and all 50 U.S. states signed a petition supporting the 100,000-acre expansion.

But like all ideas, there are some who think it’s bad.

“The Fording Coal Company has dibs on the land adjacent to the proposed expansion,” says Steve Thompson, Glacier field representative with the National Parks Conservation Association. “Fording is a major player and used to getting their way but they know that Montana’s downstream is going to fight anything they do.”

The issue was recently dropped in Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien’s lap when he received the petitions. All Montanans can do now is hope Chrétien is as progressive as his county’s reputation and not just the leader of the nation that gave us Celine Dion.

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Ask about environmental attorney Jack Tuholske around town and the earliest stories you’ll hear involve oil and gas drilling on the Rocky Mountain Front in the Badger-Two Medicine area a decade ago.

Do an Internet search on his name and you’ll find he fought for salmon recovery and the addition of bull trout to the endangered species list. He’s also been active against coalbed methane drilling in eastern Montana and game farms in western Montana.

Tuholske’s work mirrors his personal life. Skiing, hunting, and climbing, you name it, he’s a regular renaissance man of the outdoors. So it’s pleasant but no surprise that Tuholske received high honors from the nation’s largest environmental group this fall. The Sierra Club presented Tuholske with the William O. Douglas award last weekend in San Francisco.

Appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1939, Douglas championed radicals and the environmental movement during his 36-year tenure. He defended communists and protected the land. Now there’s even a wilderness area named after him near Mt. Rainer.

Sierra Club President Jennifer Ferenstein first met Tuholske when he was working for the Alliance for the Wild Rockies on bull trout listing.

“He really valued the expertise of the activists and always kept coming back to people on the ground,” Ferenstein says. “Some attorneys get caught up in the legal process rather than what’s behind it to be protected. Nobody deserves this more than Jack.”

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