Well, it’s certainly been a week to make Canadians cringe. So much silliness, so little time. Where to begin?
Seal Flesh Soirees and the Whores of Parliament
Let’s start with Senator CeCe, and her Seal Flesh Soiree. MPs lined up to have their photos taken gagging down seal flesh and pretending to enjoy it. Scott Brison made tasteless jokes about the cruel practice of fois gras. Miss Newfoundland Baby Seal Slaughter 2009 attended in full regalia of tiara and sash, feeling, no doubt, that she’d hit the Big Time. Senator CeCe manically shrilled to reporters about the joys of eating raw flesh as MPs slunk off to the toilets to gag the seal flesh back up before the brucellosis took hold.
The majority of Canadians are opposed to the annual seal slaughter and object to their tax dollars being used to subsidize and promote it. Yet here were our elected representatives, slurping down the flesh of inhumanely killed baby seals and cracking jokes about cruel farming practices. What’s wrong with this picture?
What’s wrong is that we Canadians let them get away with this foolishness. Senator CeCe’s Seal Flesh Soiree was one of a long list of PR stunts orchestrated by the government designed to thumb its nose at critics and to make a token gesture of support for sealers. Remember our Governor General’s raw-seal heart eating escapade with our Friends in the North? Remember the unanimous motion in parliament to force our Olympic team to wear dead baby seal body parts as part of their official uniform? Remember the recent G7 Finance Ministers retreat in Iqaluit, where international Finance Ministers were forced to sit on sealskin chairs, harassed at press conferences and invited to eat seal flesh at the ill-fated “Community Feast“? Well, now we have the Seal Flesh Soiree with MPs working for the cameras, slipping bits of dead baby seal in their mouths and exclaiming, “Yum yum! It’s so good and gamey!” It just gets more and more surreal, and more and more cringe-worthy for Canadians.
The Canadian government knows the majority of Canadians oppose the seal hunt. Even in the very region the killing occurs there has been a groundswell of opposition in recent years. But government officials also know the majority of Canadians do not make the seal hunt a voting issue. The largest lobby group is the fishing/sealing industry and the government is so desperate to get and keep those Atlantic Canadian votes they’re willing to whore themselves out and the rest of Canadians be damned.
Ultimately, the whole affair came off as pathetic. A silly little tea party that accomplished nothing except make the Canadian government look even more ludicrous than they already did (is that even possible?). And yet one more example of Our Tax Dollars at Work.
Senator Harb – A Real Man Amongst the Ball-less Wonders of Ottawa
Liberal Senator Mac Harb is the only senator in Ottawa with the ‘nads to do the right thing, stand up and express his true feelings about the commercial seal hunt. Last year Senator Harb attempted to propose a private member’s bill to abolish the commercial seal hunt in Canada. He failed to find a seconder and the motion died a swift death.
Undeterred, Senator Harb was back this week, this time finding an ally in Conservative Senator Lowell Murray who seconded the motion. Unfortunately the rest of the senators seemed to have forgotten their ‘nads at home that morning and voted against allowing the proposal to appear for discussion on the order paper.
Harb is not giving up, bless him. Despite the heckling and booing from his so-called colleagues, he will stand firm in his resolve to abolish the commercial seal slaughter. According to the Toronto Sun, he said he promises to keep introducing his bill until the law changes: “’I have time on my side,’ the 56-year-old senator said. He can sit in the upper chamber until age 75.”
I love that man! He certainly has my whole-hearted support. Hopefully the other senators and MPs currently whoring themselves out for sealers will be shamed by Harb’s integrity and compassion, and they too will do the right thing.
Nunavut – Hypocrites and Racists Targeting Europeans?
In a bizarre move, Fred Schell, MLA from South Baffin in Nunavut, introduced a motion banning from that territory all alcohol from the European Union. The move is in retaliation for the European Commission’s overwhelming vote to ban trade in seal products within the 27-member states. The EU ban provides an exemption for seal products derived from traditional aboriginal hunts.
Schell admitted the booze boycott would have negligible financial impact on the European Union, explaining it is a symbolic gesture to get the EU’s attention and end the seal ban without the need for lengthy court and WTO challenges. “I had to push a point,” said Schell, ” that we are not happy here and there has to be an immediate solution, not (one) five or six years from now,” Schell said.
The latest news is the European Commission has already called an emergency meeting to discuss the catastrophic impact of the Nunavut Booze Ban and is currently taking a vote to reverse the seal product ban…NOT.
Said Gunther Thorberg, spokesperson for the European Vintners & Spirits Association, “I don’t think it’s right, what they did. For a small population like we are, it affects a lot if you can’t sell your alcohol. That means a lot of dollars to a lot of people that have no other income other than making tipple.“ NOT.
Some are branding Inuit in Nunavut as hypocrites and racists, targeting Europeans for doing something others are doing with impunity. And they’re certainly not impressing anyone by likening the EU seal product ban to South Africa’s apartheid.
The Canadian government has been running a campaign to blur the line between commercial seal slaughter and Inuit subsistence hunt in a clumsy attempt to fool the public into thinking the commercial slaughter is necessary and traditional, and to capitalize on the general public’s acceptance of subsistence hunting. A 2001 internal government memo acquired by IFAW through FOIPOP recommends the government “play the Nunavut Inuit card as leverage” to open markets for seal products “and have the east coast sealers follow.” The Inuit seem quite happy to be used as pawns by the government for this purpose, even stating quite clearly they stand together with the Atlantic sealers and defend the abject cruelty of the commercial hunt. As long as Inuit continue to allow themselves to be used by the Canadian government and as long as they support and defend the cruel Atlantic Canadian sealers, they can expect to lose the support of their fellow-Canadians.
This last news story reminds me of a column that appeared in a Newfoundland online publication a couple of years ago (can’t recall the name of the publication; if I ever find it again I’ll link to it here). The columnist was indignantly saying he intended to boycott all European wine in retaliation for the anticipated EU-wide seal product ban. He said he would be sticking with US reds and Canadian whites. I emailed him to point out politely he’d likely have to switch to Canadian reds, since the US had banned seal products way back in 1972. His response was, not surprisingly, quite abusive…
Yes, one heck of a Cringeworthy week for Canadians.