Ban or No Ban?
People were left scratching their heads in bewilderment today as to whether or not the EU seal product trade ban would come into effect on Friday, August 20th. Earlier today Prime Minister Stephen Harper blasted the impending EU ban – which will prohibit trade in seal products from all nations – as being discriminatory against Canadian sealers who he described as “hardworking people of modest means.” A few hours later Fisheries Minister Gail Shea announced the EU seal product trade ban had been suspended until further notice after Inuit leaders questioned the legality of the ban. Further confusion ensued when conflicting reports were issued by the European Commission stating the trade ban would indeed pass into law on Friday and Canadian media outlets stating the ban had been suspended at the last minute.
Brutality Against Canada’s Baby Seals – Approved by Canadian Inuit
One thing, however, is no longer in doubt — the Inuit of Canada support and defend the abject cruelty of the Atlantic Canadian commercial seal hunt. Canadian Inuit have stated in the past they stand in solidarity with eastern sealers and had launched a challenge against the EU seal product ban earlier this year. Inuit have complained that, although the ban specifically exempts products from traditional Inuit hunts, it would devastate their economy and would prevent them from hunting seals.
Inuit Hunt – Subsistence or Commercial?
Rebecca Aldworth, Executive Director of Humane Society International/Canada questioned the logic and motives of the Inuit challenge to the EU seal product ban:
If the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is now claiming the prohibition will negatively impact their seal hunt, they are directly inferring that their hunt is conducted for commercial, rather than traditional subsistence, purposes.”
Very good points. I’d be most interested to hear National Inuit leader and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Mary Simon’s response to this.
Inuit Whored Out by Government for Benefit of Atlantic sealers
In 2006 Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society reported that a few years previously Brian Roberts, senior advisor to the Canadian Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, had addressed a conference of whalers in Iceland and urged the exploitation of native people to defend commercial whaling:
“The first step was to neutralize the appeal of the animal protection lobby,” Roberts said. “To accomplish this it was necessary to mount an equally emotionally powerful counter-appeal. This counter-appeal was based on the survival needs of aboriginal communities which depended upon the continuing taking of fur-bearing animals.”
Roberts said that this lesson would be useful to the whalers in “your own efforts to deal with a poorly informed and emotional public, and with politicians seeking electoral approval from such publics.”
In other words, Roberts speaking on behalf of the government of Canada was openly saying that Native people should be used as politically-correct and emotional arguments to win favor for commercial whaling.
Interesting, no? Wait, it gets even more interesting. In a 2001 memo from Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs regarding maneuvoring seal products past the U.S. seal product trade ban implemented in 1972, it was recommended the Canadian government ”play the Nunavut Inuit card as leverage to open the door to obtaining a waiver and have the east coast sealers follow.” Sneaky.
And for some strange reason, the Inuit have been more than happy to be used as pawns in the Canadian government’s defence of the inherently cruel and unprofitable slaughter. Their eagerness to be whored out to the world for the benefit of Atlantic Canadian sealers is backfiring – they are rapidly losing the support of their fellow-Canadians. When I first became involved in this issue, people told me they supported the Inuit subsistence hunt. Today, however, I’m hearing a completely different story. Many people have expressed to me their disgust with the Inuit’s alliance with the brutal Atlantic sealers and have advised they have withdrawn their support for subsistence hunting.
Delaying the Inevitable
Realistically, sealing advocates have not prevented the trade ban on seal products; they have simply delayed the inevitable.
Says HSI Canada’s Rebecca Aldworth: “This suspension is temporary in nature and, while affording time for the applicants to present their case before the European Court of Justice, does nothing to prevent the EU ban from coming into force prior to the 2011 commercial seal hunt.“ Sheryl Fink, senior researcher with International Fund for Animal Welfare, agrees the suspension is a minor delay and confirms the EU made the right decision based on solid facts of the seal slaughter. She also points out the European Commission voted to implement the ban in response to the wishes of its own citizens, and believes the Canadian government should show the same respect for the wishes of its citizens. “I would hope that the Canadian government will listen to its citizens, who predominantly do not want to see a commercial seal hunt continued in this country.”
Polling consistently shows the majority of Canadians are opposed to the commercial seal slaughter and object to their tax dollars being used to subsidize and defend it both at home and abroad. Yet every year the Canadian government lavishes millions of our tax dollars upon the inherently cruel, unsustainable and unprofitable industry. Add to that financial burden the further cost of expensive WTO and joint Inuit/Atlantic sealer challenges, and one is left once again scratching one’s head in bewilderment, wondering why on earth the government of Canada is pouring BILLIONS of dollars into an industry that is economically negligible. A licence buyout would be markedly cheaper and a long-lasting solution, so why this stubborn determination to waste more of our taxes on a losing battle? It’s just too bad the Canadian government didn’t see fit to lavish a fraction of that money on the homeless and poverty-stricken across Canada. But clearly Atlantic sealers/fishers’ votes are far more important than the Great Unwashed Masses across this country.