Clarkson unimpressed with Jean's seal-eating gesture

The Canadian Press ~ The News
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Politics

At least one person's unimpressed by all the fuss over the seal-skinning adventures of Michaelle Jean, her predecessor as Governor General.

Adrienne Clarkson was curt when asked by a reporter about Jean's headline-grabbing gesture last week, and Clarkson's own memories of meals with the Inuit.

Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean (right), sits down in the front row with former governor general Adrienne Clarkson during the LaFontaine-Baldwind Symposium in Iqaluit, Nunavut Friday. Adrienne Clarkson was curt when asked by a reporter about Jean's headline-grab

IQALUIT, Nunavut -

At least one person's unimpressed by all the fuss over the seal-skinning adventures of Michaelle Jean, her predecessor as Governor General.

Adrienne Clarkson was curt when asked by a reporter about Jean's headline-grabbing gesture last week, and Clarkson's own memories of meals with the Inuit.

"I've eaten raw food here since 1971. It's nothing new to me, OK?" Clarkson told The Canadian Press this weekend. Both women were attending an arctic gathering hosted by Clarkson's husband John Ralston Saul.

"I have a lovely seal skin coat. ... I've eaten raw food since 1971 - and there you are."

Jean's decision to help skin a seal with a traditional ulu blade, ask for a slice of heart, and then eat it, triggered an emotional reaction from supporters and critics around the world.

There is indeed long historical precedent for the gesture: even Prince Charles snacked on the blubbery mammal during a trip to the North three decades ago.

But the difference is last week's events were captured on video, landing amid an international debate over seal hunting.

Clarkson said she hadn't seen the images, as she quietly slipped out of a high school gymnasium Friday. Across the room, a crowd had gathered around Jean to shake her hand and snap photos.

The former governor general may have been indifferent to the hoopla. But the indifference cuts both ways.

Jean is equally unimpressed with Clarkson's most recent public offerings.

Clarkson, in remarks interpreted as a slight at Jean, last month suggested all future candidates for governor general should be forced to undergo a Canadian-knowledge quiz.

She urged televised hearings where vice-regal aspirants could be asked to locate the Mackenzie River, discuss the conscription crisis and the Manitoba Schools Question, or name Canadian artists.

The suggestion was interpreted by many as a shot at Jean, who had just recently been publicly corrected when she mixed up B.C.'s Coastal Mountains and the Rockies.

Unlike Clarkson, who in a lengthy career as a CBC journalist had travelled extensively across the country, Jean worked almost exclusively in Quebec.

She admitted in her 2005 installation speech that she had much left to discover about Canada.

Jean says what's important is that the office reflect the country: a place where people arrive with different attributes, but celebrate what they have in common.

"You start from your own experience. What I brought ... was my own story. And we live in a country where every individual can do that," Jean said.

"That's why we need to work on our sense of belonging. And belonging goes beyond the ability to name the Mackenzie River and say where it is. It goes far beyond that."

That view of shared citizenship was illustrated last week by images of a Haitian-born Governor General participating enthusiastically in an Inuit skinning ritual.

Jean noted afterward that she was born in a place where meat is always well-cooked and eating it raw would be unthinkable - but there she was, defending seal-hunters and applauding Inuit traditions.

So does she know Canada now?

Organizations: Canadian Press, Manitoba Schools Question, CBC

Geographic location: IQALUIT, Nunavut, Mackenzie River Canada Rockies Quebec

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Mister
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    I always detested the way Clarkson went about spending lavishly on massive carpets for the GG 's house, her artsy wine and dine charter trips to Europe, and remember she wanted her lettuce grown a certain way. This is no surprise. She was elitist to the core and has been massively overshadowed by an original down to earth well meaning honest lady here. Any wonder she is fuming inside.

  • Blair
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    What a marvellous way to plug your new book Ms. Clarkson.

    You could learn a lesson from the movie Bambi . . .

    If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

  • Francis
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    I hope she gets put on a Canadian coin or bill. I think that would be the only thing to make her happy.

  • Dave
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Wow, Clarkson sure comes off looking like an envious, bitter old woman here. Some people just can't stand to realize that their sun has set.

  • Tina
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    I don't understand what all the fuss is here..Ms. Clarkson is probably just tired of being asked the same questions. She is also a supporter of the seal industry and admitted to eating and wearing seal...

  • Don
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Why don's all our federal political leaders make a joint trip up north and have a good meal of seal(even cooked) ,wearing an article of seal skin clothing.
    That will send a message to the do gooders and the europeans as to who they support. It won't change anything,but at least they will get a good feed and probably some good PR which they all need.

  • J
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    People should know that ALEXANDER PANETTA is a totally biased reporter and makes up the news as much as he reports it.

    Take another this man writes with a grain of salt.

  • Patrick
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    A great big so what to Clarkson. You are old news and should have never been news. I detect a little jealousy on your part that Ms. Jean stood up for our culture. If only you and others did the same during your tenure, we wouldn't be in this mess.

  • Saucy Face
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    Cat Fight!!!!!!

  • A
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    I wonder if people who make these comments actually READ the article first.

  • DB
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    Clarkson needs to get a grip. Good god, she actually thought she was the queen.

  • g-man
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    i wish people would just get over this and move on..this hoopla is all about giving the animal rights group more donations from bleeding hearts..get a life people,especailly tree huggers and that stupid olympic athlete in BC who said he wasnt wearing baby seal skin..

  • Telling it like it is
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    We at the Anti Bridget Curran Sealing Coalition support GG Michaelle Jean's actions.

    She is a patriot to the core and her willingness to stand up for all Canadians against the attacks by the Atlantic Anti Sealing Coalition.

  • DeeBee
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    Hmmm... the whole EU boycott thing is because Canadian products made from seal are of better quality than the stuff manufactured from the Scandinavian seal hunt. What? They have seals in Europe, too. The native people there don't take advantage of this amazing source of protein, oil and fur to keep warm? How come? And, unfortunately for animal rights groups, moose calves and walruses aren't a cute as seal pups, so wealthy, elderly people and celebrities aren't as inclined to donate money by the thousands of doallrs to save those creatures from barbaric east coast hunters. Baby seals make good poster animals to get bigger donations, don't you know...? LOL!

  • H
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    So what matter what Clarkson thinks - she isn't governor general any more. If she had been doing all she said since 1971, maybe there wouldn't have been so much trouble now. Michele Jean is the best Governor General we have had in years, and more power to her if she has the nerve to eat raw seal. Clarkson was probably used to sushi and all such raw things anyway.

  • Mister
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    I always detested the way Clarkson went about spending lavishly on massive carpets for the GG 's house, her artsy wine and dine charter trips to Europe, and remember she wanted her lettuce grown a certain way. This is no surprise. She was elitist to the core and has been massively overshadowed by an original down to earth well meaning honest lady here. Any wonder she is fuming inside.

  • Blair
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    What a marvellous way to plug your new book Ms. Clarkson.

    You could learn a lesson from the movie Bambi . . .

    If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

  • Francis
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    I hope she gets put on a Canadian coin or bill. I think that would be the only thing to make her happy.

  • Dave
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    Wow, Clarkson sure comes off looking like an envious, bitter old woman here. Some people just can't stand to realize that their sun has set.

  • Tina
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    I don't understand what all the fuss is here..Ms. Clarkson is probably just tired of being asked the same questions. She is also a supporter of the seal industry and admitted to eating and wearing seal...

  • Don
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    Why don's all our federal political leaders make a joint trip up north and have a good meal of seal(even cooked) ,wearing an article of seal skin clothing.
    That will send a message to the do gooders and the europeans as to who they support. It won't change anything,but at least they will get a good feed and probably some good PR which they all need.

  • J
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    People should know that ALEXANDER PANETTA is a totally biased reporter and makes up the news as much as he reports it.

    Take another this man writes with a grain of salt.

  • Patrick
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    A great big so what to Clarkson. You are old news and should have never been news. I detect a little jealousy on your part that Ms. Jean stood up for our culture. If only you and others did the same during your tenure, we wouldn't be in this mess.

  • Saucy Face
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    Cat Fight!!!!!!

  • A
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    I wonder if people who make these comments actually READ the article first.

  • DB
    July 01, 2010 - 19:57

    Clarkson needs to get a grip. Good god, she actually thought she was the queen.

  • g-man
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    i wish people would just get over this and move on..this hoopla is all about giving the animal rights group more donations from bleeding hearts..get a life people,especailly tree huggers and that stupid olympic athlete in BC who said he wasnt wearing baby seal skin..

  • Telling it like it is
    July 01, 2010 - 19:52

    We at the Anti Bridget Curran Sealing Coalition support GG Michaelle Jean's actions.

    She is a patriot to the core and her willingness to stand up for all Canadians against the attacks by the Atlantic Anti Sealing Coalition.

  • DeeBee
    July 01, 2010 - 19:50

    Hmmm... the whole EU boycott thing is because Canadian products made from seal are of better quality than the stuff manufactured from the Scandinavian seal hunt. What? They have seals in Europe, too. The native people there don't take advantage of this amazing source of protein, oil and fur to keep warm? How come? And, unfortunately for animal rights groups, moose calves and walruses aren't a cute as seal pups, so wealthy, elderly people and celebrities aren't as inclined to donate money by the thousands of doallrs to save those creatures from barbaric east coast hunters. Baby seals make good poster animals to get bigger donations, don't you know...? LOL!

  • H
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    So what matter what Clarkson thinks - she isn't governor general any more. If she had been doing all she said since 1971, maybe there wouldn't have been so much trouble now. Michele Jean is the best Governor General we have had in years, and more power to her if she has the nerve to eat raw seal. Clarkson was probably used to sushi and all such raw things anyway.