Just when you think the ‘Ottawa Loves Baby Seal Killers’ Farce couldn’t get any more bizarre…it does. The government does something else that makes rational Canadians groan in embarrassment and shake their heads.
“On February 2nd, 2012, all Members of Parliament in the House of Commons will have an opportunity to support Canada’s northern and coastal communities” proudly read the press release issued yesterday by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. “As a sign of support for the individuals who rely on the sustainable seal harvest in Canada, we are asking all Members of Parliament to show their support by wearing a seal fur lapel pin in the House of Commons on February 2nd, 2012.”
What, no seal meat? No seal pâté on tiny pastry cups? No seal ragout served in crystal bowls? No bacon-wrapped seal loin with port reduction? Not a terrine or rillette in sight. Not even a sausage. Just little fuzzy pins. Apparently seal is off the menu again in Ottawa. Maybe after privately hurling back up the seal meat they’d choked down for the cameras in 2009, MPs realized there are limits to which even they will go for sealers.
This “Day of the Seal” or whatever nonsense they were calling it is clearly just another cringeworthy PR stunt put on by the Canadian government to show token support for the doomed commercial sealing industry. And as per usual the government is playing the Inuit card, blurring the line between large-scale industrialized Atlantic commercial seal hunt and traditional Inuit subsistence hunt (that is, if you consider sitting in a truck listening to music waiting for the seal in the net to drown “traditional.” BTW, the Canadian Veterinarian Medical Association opposes drowning seals in nets as “drowning is considered to be a protracted and, therefore, inhumane form of death”), which are two separate issues.
The press release continued “Sealing is an important economic and cultural driver in Canada’s eastern, arctic and northern communities.”
Arctic and northern communities? Not so much. The Inuit have nothing whatsoever to do with the commercial seal hunt. They do not participate in the commercial seal hunt – theirs is a different hunt targeting a different species of seal. The Inuit are exempt from the EU seal product trade ban which applies to commercial seal products, and the Nunavut government pays Inuit seal hunters an upfront, guaranteed price for seal skins under its Fur Pricing Program.
But the Inuit have allowed themselves to be drawn into this issue and whored-out pimped-out used by the Canadian government in a cynical attempt to fool or emotionally blackmail (hey, whichever works for them) Canadians into accepting the commercial seal hunt as a traditional subsistence hunt when it is most decidedly not.
These ploys are deeply offensive to the majority of Canadians, who are opposed to the annual slaughter and object to their tax dollars being used to defend and sustain it.
The press release stated, predictably: “Sealing is an important economic and cultural driver in Canada’s eastern, arctic and northern communities. It is a long-standing and integral part of Canada’s rural culture and a way of life for thousands of Canadians.”
No, in actual fact, the commercial seal hunt is a marginal activity involving a tiny fraction of the population of Atlantic Canada. It is an unsustainable pastime that brings in very little revenue, cannot survive without massive subsidies from Canadian taxpayers, and could easily be replaced with a number of viable alternatives.
Liberal Senator Mac Harb seemed to be the sole voice of reason in Ottawa today. Senator Harb said, “The Conservative government is holding yet another photo op instead of being upfront about the end of the commercial seal hunt. The government must tell sealers the truth. The market is dead.”
Senator Harb is quite correct. The commercial sealing industry is dead. It’s been dying a slow death for the past few years and it’s time to do the right thing and let it go. It’s time the Canadian government admits this, stops wasting our tax dollars on embarrassing photo-ops, emotional rhetoric and futile WTO challenges, and moves ahead with a licence buyout which would be a long-lasting solution benefiting everyone, including commercial sealers, Canadian taxpayers and Canada’s international reputation.