Nunavut has implemented an import ban on wines, scotches, spirits and other liquor from EU countries, according to a CBC news report.  The move is in retaliation of 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.  The ban passed into law on August 20th, with a temporary exemption for a group currently challenging the ban.  Among the parties challenging the ban are  Canadian Inuit and east coast commercial sealing interests.

Why has Nunavut banned EU booze but not US booze?

EU Booze Ban Deemed Hypocritical

Once again the question must be asked:  Why ban only EU booze?  The US banned all seal products in 1972, yet nearly 40 years later Nunavummiut are able to quaff their favourite US intoxicant at fine dining establishments and lounges throughout Nunavut.  Why?  Seems a tad inconsistent. 

The latest news from the EU this morning is the European Commission has called an emergency weekend 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.

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 realize that $300,000 or $400,000 probably is not a big deal there for European brewers … but it’s just kind of a symbol there that we’re not happy about it,” Schell said.

When the motion to ban EU booze in Nunavut was passed earlier this year, many branded Nunavummiut as hypocrites and racists, targeting Europeans for doing something others are doing with impunity. 

Baby seals skinned alive - approved by Canadian Inuit

Not About Booze or Trade – All About Politics, PR and Pimps

But it’s not about booze, or Inuit subsistence hunting.  It’s about politics and PR and the Inuit allowing themselves to be whored out by the Canadian government in a despicable attempt to hide the sins of the commercial slaughter behind native hunts.  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.  Now the Inuit have aligned themselves with east coast commercial sealing interests in the legal challenge to the EU seal product trade ban.

As long as Inuit continue to allow themselves to be used by the Canadian government and as long as they support and defend the sadistic Atlantic Canadian sealers, they can expect to lose the support of their fellow-Canadians.

Inuit Sealing – Subsistence or Commercial?

The Inuit have long claimed their seal hunts are traditional native subsistence hunts, and there is an exemption in the EU seal product ban to allow for products from traditional subsistence hunting.  In challenging this ban, the Inuit are now being forced to admit their hunt is not actually subsistence – it is commercial. Rebecca Aldworth, Executive Director of Humane Society International/Canada pointed out this inconsistency:

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.

The Inuit seal hunt has always been presented to the global public as a traditional activity conducted for subsistence purposes, an activity that has been a part of Inuit culture for thousands of years. This is certainly not true of commercial seal slaughter.

This booze ban story reminds me of a column that appeared in a Newfoundland online publication a few years ago.  The columnist was indignantly saying he intended to boycott all European wine in retaliation for the then-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…