Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty makes his way out of an igloo during a break in G7 Finance Ministers meetings in the Canadian northern community of Iqaluit, Nunavut, Saturday February 6, 2010. Iqaluit is the site of the G7 Finance Ministers meeting. photo by The Canadian Press
It seems everyone in this Arctic community was trying to put the issue of seals in front of the European delegation at the G7 finance ministers meeting.
But regardless of their efforts, the Europeans just weren't biting - not into seal meat anyway.
A summit-ending community feast with raw and cooked seal on offer, along with local fare, like caribou, whale and muskox was studiously avoided by the principals of France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.
And at a concluding news conference, the subject of seal and the proposed European ban on seal products was treated as an unsavoury subject.
Iqaluit-based reporter Kent Driscoll drew an uncomfortable silence from the four finance ministers when he asked them if their stay in Iqaluit had taught them a lesson about the importance of seal in the Canadian North.
The ministers exchanged glances, lowered their heads, but said nothing.
When the painful silence was too much, Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty came to the rescue by pointing out the European Union makes an exception with respect to the indigenous Inuit people.
"As you know, we're very proud of Nunavut. Nunavut has been its own jurisdiction for about 10 years now and before that, many, many years of negotiations, which were fruitful. So this is a collaboration in Canada of which we are proud," he said.
Driscoll, a reporter for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, persisted, noting the exception is for parts used for traditional purposes.
"I'm wondering, again, from the European Union ministers, have you seen anything that would lead you to want to open that window a little bit more?"
Again, no reaction. Again the pleading stares turned to Flaherty, the host of the event and the person who chose this northern outpost for the G7 meetings.
"I think I've been fairly clear," responded Flaherty, more curtly.
Flaherty said later that France's finance minister Christine Lagarde thanked him for his timely intervention.
On the no-shows, the minister explained that because of the time change with Europe, the ministers wanted to go home early.
He noted that the dignitaries took part in the cultural presentation by the community Friday and many had gone on a dog-sled run on the ice.
He said several personally told him they had enjoyed their adventure, with some calling it the best G7 meeting they have attended.
"When I first suggested this a year ago, there was some skepticism and some wondering where this place was," he said.
"But at the end of the day they all came and they all really enjoyed it."
Flaherty and Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney, who was born in the Northwest Territories, were the only participants to make an appearance at the community feast.
Both ate in a private room and emerged to thank the community and play a game of dice on the high school gym floor. Flaherty was given a gift of a seal-skin vest, which he wore the rest of the evening.