I'm not a fan of having to listen to the same sermon every time I pick up a national park permit as I would much prefer picking permits up night box style like Inyo NF. And I am very against not allowing Ursack use.
Actually all backpackers in the Rock Creek drainage are now required to have canisters (I also own 2 bulky, heavy Garcia's besides 2 Ursack's). When the permit was picked up since you were going into Sequoia NP, they certainly would have impressed on any group that requirement. http://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/bear_bc.htm
In other SEKI areas the 3 listed methods can be used including #2 foodlocker. So the ranger was doing his job. The national parks have been rather rigid for years and with good effect. A few years ago Inyo took off the kids glove and began forcing people without permits or bear canisters out of the wilderness. For years they would often scold people without permits and then if they didn't get any lip write them a permit on the spot. Obviously was not working as there are simply a lot of groups that apparently don't think rules apply to them so SEKI, Yosemite and increasingly Inyo now sends a clear message of play by the rules or pay the consequences. Especially lots of groups camping too close to lakes and making fires above legal limits.
Dave I have a few comments.
First, the requirement was actually not impressed upon us when we picked up the permit. The ranger at the Inyo Center did say that we needed canisters. However when told this I replied "thats ok we are going to be camping right next to the bear locker". To which the ranger replied "Yeah, most people do that". To be honest there were a ton of people trying to get permits, we were rushed through and its something that we simply missed. To be clear, I carried a bear canister up the Mountaineer's Route because I was told it was required. I would have carried them here without a problem if I thought the bear locker wasn't enough.
That said, I signed a document and take personal responsibility for not knowing the rules which is why we packed up and left without much complaint.
In terms of the ranger doing his job, this is where I may disagree with you. While I do believe the ranger was enforcing the rules, I do not believe he was "doing his job." A ranger's job is not only to enforce the rules but to protect hikers. I would contend that the ranger stopped doing his job when he told us that we had to pack up and hike back out that night. Surely asking two hikers who had just spent 7 hours on the trail to pack up, turn around and redo a 8 - 10 mile hike in the pitch dark poses more of a risk to the hikers, the rangers and to SAR then does having us store our food in a bear locker for the night. In my opinion at that moment the ranger put the letter of the law ahead of other people's safety.
Luckily I was able to keep my composure and talk the ranger into letting us stay the night but its for that reason, and not for asking me to leave the next day, that I will be filing a complaint.