Let them eat seal

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Parliament puts seal meat on menu

Forget the Winter Olympics, nothing unites Canada's parliamentarians like some bacon-wrapped seal loin.

MPs and senators from across the partisan spectrum enjoyed a special luncheon Wednesday, brought together by a menu that featured Canada's best known furry sea mammal.

"Did you ever think we'd have such a crowd?" Liberal Senator Celine Hervieux-Payette almost shouted to Conservative Fisheries Minister Gail Shea in a packed side room off the posh parliamentary restaurant.

At left, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff shows his approval as he eats a seal meat appetizer during an event marking the first time seal meat is served in the parliamentary restaurant on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa Wednesday. Right, shown is a platter of

OTTAWA -

Forget the Winter Olympics, nothing unites Canada's parliamentarians like some bacon-wrapped seal loin.

MPs and senators from across the partisan spectrum enjoyed a special luncheon Wednesday, brought together by a menu that featured Canada's best known furry sea mammal.

"Did you ever think we'd have such a crowd?" Liberal Senator Celine Hervieux-Payette almost shouted to Conservative Fisheries Minister Gail Shea in a packed side room off the posh parliamentary restaurant.

"World-wide! BBC!"

The Diner de Phoque, or Seal Meat Lunch, did indeed attract international attention, as intended.

It's the first time seal has been served in the 100-year-old Parliament Hill institution. All the double-smoked bacon wrapping, port reductions and organic vegetable medleys couldn't mask the meal's true intention: telling animal rights groups and the European Union to get stuffed.

The EU has banned processed seal imports, including their pelts, meat, organs and seal oil.

Animal rights activists "achieve their goals by spreading false information about this industry," Shea told the 18 invited lunch guests, who were swamped by media in attendance.

"Their campaign is misguided, mean-spirited and hurtful to many Canadian families. Unfortunately, this campaign led to the European Union adopting a ban on Canadian seal products."

The British Broadcasting Corp., Radio Netherlands, the Guardian newspaper of London, Agence France Press and the Seattle Post Intelligencer were just a few of the foreign news outlets that picked up the event.

Eating seal meat - which isn't even an occasional culinary curiosity on most Canadian dinner tables - has become politically fashionable in Canada since Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean sampled a slice of raw seal heart during an Inuit community feast last May in Rankin Inlet.

The act set off a storm of protest in Europe while garnering largely positive reviews across Canada, guaranteeing it would be repeated in some form or other.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper had his cabinet treated to seal during a meeting in Iqaluit in August, although no independent news media was permitted to record the event.

The lunch arranged by Hervieux-Payette was the hottest ticket on the Hill.

The Brussels-based International Fund for Animal Welfare dismissed it as a "media stunt" at which "desperate politicians trip over each other to eat seal meat."

"The fact that the meat is only being consumed for political purposes, and that it needs to be wrapped in double smoked bacon to kill the taste, clearly demonstrates that it is not particularly palatable," the animal rights group said in a news release.

MPs from all four parties in the House of Commons sat down to the formal lunch, while many more crowded into the room for a piece of the media action.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff bellied into the throng to try some seal pate and pronounced it "delicious actually ... a little gamey, like caribou or something."

Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe bounced at the grid-locked doorway to the packed room before eventually giving up and leaving.

"This is likely a very strange comment," Shea told the luncheon guests, "but I want to thank my critics for their support."

Comedian Mark Critch from "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" even got in on the act, dubbing the lunch room "Club Seal" before proceeding to club every politician present with on-camera, off-colour innuendo.

About the only participant with nothing to say was Sara Green, Miss Newfoundland and Labrador and an outspoken sealing advocate, who was suffering from a severe and untimely case of laryngitis.

Organizations: European Union, British Broadcasting, Agence France Press Seattle Post Intelligencer International Fund for Animal Welfare House of Commons Bloc Quebecois

Geographic location: Canada, OTTAWA, London Rankin Inlet Europe Iqaluit

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Recent comments

  • Paul
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Well said Heather. A friend who has knocked the head of a few looks at it the same way.

    They lived free till they died.

    Can't say that for all animals slaughtered. Mind you the lamb I get, another rather cute and cuddly beast conveniently left off the ban list spends its summers swarving about the hills & cliffs around Branch before it gets knocked on the head and sent to my freezer.

  • mainlander
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    The FACT that it is not only the fur that is used but the entire animal has been the major piece of information conveniently left out of the animal rights groups argument against the hunt. Letting the public know people actually eat the meat is their worst nightmare, so they are going to try to spin it as negatively as possible.

  • Fred
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    When they start eating raw seal then they can be classed as true Canadians.In the meantime pass the bacon dear.Don't you just love IGGYS smile.

  • Telling it how Id
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    For anyone who is interested in what the Sea Shepherd has to say about the lack of ice and seal pups littering the beaches of the gulf of St. Lawrence, feel free to check this link out....

    http://www.seashepherd.org/news-and-media/editorial-100302-1.html

    Such a dramatic title of the article as well... The Drowning of the Ice Babies....truly captivating.

    Some of the more interersting points.... that Captain Paul Watson claims

    Now the problem is that seals need ice and if there is no ice the seal pups will be dropped in the water where they will drown, or the seals will be forced to give birth on beaches putting them at the mercy of uncontrolled locals who will kill them for amusement.

    In the Gulf of St. Lawrence, there should be at least a million seals but only 500 seals have been counted. Magdalene Island baby seal clubbers say they are fearful their hunt wont happen. Five hundred years ago, there were some forty million seals on the Eastern seabird including grey seals, hood seals, harbor seals, the now extirpated walrus, in addition to the harp seals. With seal populations reduced to just under ten percent of their original numbers since the time of the European colonization, the various species of seals have been much diminished and thus placed in a vulnerable position for dealing with the increasing threat of climate change.


    So in conclusion.... Iin 1497, John Cabot estimated the seal population to 40 Million, that's more than the population of Canada. At present, there are apparently 500 and we are alll looking forward to pass the time by clubbing seal pups stranded on the beach....

    Truly he is a genius...

  • George
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    Bacon, uuummmm, is there nothing bacon can't do?

  • Heather
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    For everyone against the hunt - next time you eat any kind of meat or wear animal hide - please visit a slaugterhouse first. Animals killed in slaughterhouses are raised to be KILLED and most live a horrendous life up to that time. Seals are born free, live as they were meant to and not all will be killed. How about putting some effort in stopping the torture of animals in research labs or fur farms?

  • bulkgarbageguy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    right on! pass a flipper skipper!
    now that everybody realizes that seal can be eaten it's time to open a fast food chain to sell all this delightful meat.I f people will eat large quanities of corned beef which comes from brazil why not seal.

  • Francis
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    On request from Pam Anderson , caribou meat is next.

  • Funky
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    The fact that the meat is only being consumed for political purposes, and that it needs to be wrapped in double smoked bacon to kill the taste, clearly demonstrates that it is not particularly palatable, the animal rights group said in a news release.

    -----------------------------------------------

    What a ridiculous statement! The use of bacon is not intended to kill the taste of the meat, it enhances the flavour. Anything wrapped in bacon ultimately tastes better. Bacon wrapped in bacon makes bacon taste better. The mere existance of bacon makes this world a better and more delicious place.

  • swiler
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Show your support for a ban on E.U. alcohol from NL liquor stores:

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=344864425697&ref=ts

  • Paul
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    It is an unfortunate fact that not enough of the meat is consumed. If every household would eat even one, or one more, seal dinner we'd be able to put that problem to rest. It is a good lean high protein food source. I'm sure other populations would just love to have a full belly.

    Beyond that I've written to gov't and suggested that all seal carcasses should be brought to port and canned and stored. They can then be given to the poor in our own country or shipped to disaster or famine sites like Haiti, Indonesia or places in Africa. This would shut up one argument for detractors. Better this than the planned EU cull where they will just let them sink into the ocean. What a bunch of stupid people and some here in Canada actually think the EU is ethically better than us. At least we try to use the animal, but we should try even more.

  • Dave
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    Time to gather some votes Mickey, slimebag!

  • Paul
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    Well said Heather. A friend who has knocked the head of a few looks at it the same way.

    They lived free till they died.

    Can't say that for all animals slaughtered. Mind you the lamb I get, another rather cute and cuddly beast conveniently left off the ban list spends its summers swarving about the hills & cliffs around Branch before it gets knocked on the head and sent to my freezer.

  • mainlander
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    The FACT that it is not only the fur that is used but the entire animal has been the major piece of information conveniently left out of the animal rights groups argument against the hunt. Letting the public know people actually eat the meat is their worst nightmare, so they are going to try to spin it as negatively as possible.

  • Fred
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    When they start eating raw seal then they can be classed as true Canadians.In the meantime pass the bacon dear.Don't you just love IGGYS smile.

  • Telling it how Id
    July 01, 2010 - 20:19

    For anyone who is interested in what the Sea Shepherd has to say about the lack of ice and seal pups littering the beaches of the gulf of St. Lawrence, feel free to check this link out....

    http://www.seashepherd.org/news-and-media/editorial-100302-1.html

    Such a dramatic title of the article as well... The Drowning of the Ice Babies....truly captivating.

    Some of the more interersting points.... that Captain Paul Watson claims

    Now the problem is that seals need ice and if there is no ice the seal pups will be dropped in the water where they will drown, or the seals will be forced to give birth on beaches putting them at the mercy of uncontrolled locals who will kill them for amusement.

    In the Gulf of St. Lawrence, there should be at least a million seals but only 500 seals have been counted. Magdalene Island baby seal clubbers say they are fearful their hunt wont happen. Five hundred years ago, there were some forty million seals on the Eastern seabird including grey seals, hood seals, harbor seals, the now extirpated walrus, in addition to the harp seals. With seal populations reduced to just under ten percent of their original numbers since the time of the European colonization, the various species of seals have been much diminished and thus placed in a vulnerable position for dealing with the increasing threat of climate change.


    So in conclusion.... Iin 1497, John Cabot estimated the seal population to 40 Million, that's more than the population of Canada. At present, there are apparently 500 and we are alll looking forward to pass the time by clubbing seal pups stranded on the beach....

    Truly he is a genius...

  • George
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    Bacon, uuummmm, is there nothing bacon can't do?

  • Heather
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    For everyone against the hunt - next time you eat any kind of meat or wear animal hide - please visit a slaugterhouse first. Animals killed in slaughterhouses are raised to be KILLED and most live a horrendous life up to that time. Seals are born free, live as they were meant to and not all will be killed. How about putting some effort in stopping the torture of animals in research labs or fur farms?

  • bulkgarbageguy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    right on! pass a flipper skipper!
    now that everybody realizes that seal can be eaten it's time to open a fast food chain to sell all this delightful meat.I f people will eat large quanities of corned beef which comes from brazil why not seal.

  • Francis
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    On request from Pam Anderson , caribou meat is next.

  • Funky
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    The fact that the meat is only being consumed for political purposes, and that it needs to be wrapped in double smoked bacon to kill the taste, clearly demonstrates that it is not particularly palatable, the animal rights group said in a news release.

    -----------------------------------------------

    What a ridiculous statement! The use of bacon is not intended to kill the taste of the meat, it enhances the flavour. Anything wrapped in bacon ultimately tastes better. Bacon wrapped in bacon makes bacon taste better. The mere existance of bacon makes this world a better and more delicious place.

  • swiler
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    Show your support for a ban on E.U. alcohol from NL liquor stores:

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=344864425697&ref=ts

  • Paul
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    It is an unfortunate fact that not enough of the meat is consumed. If every household would eat even one, or one more, seal dinner we'd be able to put that problem to rest. It is a good lean high protein food source. I'm sure other populations would just love to have a full belly.

    Beyond that I've written to gov't and suggested that all seal carcasses should be brought to port and canned and stored. They can then be given to the poor in our own country or shipped to disaster or famine sites like Haiti, Indonesia or places in Africa. This would shut up one argument for detractors. Better this than the planned EU cull where they will just let them sink into the ocean. What a bunch of stupid people and some here in Canada actually think the EU is ethically better than us. At least we try to use the animal, but we should try even more.

  • Dave
    July 01, 2010 - 19:48

    Time to gather some votes Mickey, slimebag!