Cleary sports sealskin to prove support

Steve Bartlett
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St. John’s South-Mount Pearl MP Ryan Cleary in a sealskin vest. — Submitted photo

The fur has been flying all week over Ryan Cleary’s questioning of the seal hunt’s future.

But Thursday, there was fur on his back, as the St. John’s South-Mount Pearl MP showed up to work in a sealskin vest.

He was trying to make sure people knew he backed the harvest.

“There’s been a lot of spin here, a hell of a lot of spin. I’m in the eye of the political spin and I want this to be clear: I support the commercial seal hunt,” he said in an interview.

Earlier this week, Cleary questioned the viability of the hunt during a CBC Radio interview.

“We know that the world appetite is not there for seal meat, but the world appetite for seal products, I don’t know if it’s there,” Cleary told the broadcaster.

“And you know what? I may be shot for talking about this, and for saying this, but it’s a question we all have to ask.”

The comments sparked a firestorm.

Some said the remarks were an insult to people in rural parts of province, and federal Conservative ministers said it appears Cleary has abandoned his support of local sealers.

Meanwhile, anti-sealing groups applauded — and interpreted. “(Cleary) has acknowledged that the tremendous outcry against beating and shooting baby seals has him questioning the future of the bloody massacre,” read an entry on the official blog of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).

Cleary said he has received emails from people from all sides, including some who say he won’t serve a second term and others encouraging him to run for prime minister.

When the ruckus started, Cleary explained he was calling for a debate to address the industry’s problems. He reiterated that Thursday, and approved of the discussion that’s been ignited.

“There’s debate about what’s going on with the hunt and its direction. Everybody is talking about it. That’s a good thing. Everybody is attacking me, that’s not a good thing, but it is a good thing for the industry?”

Cleary suggested the debate needs to happen to have a sustainable industry into the future.

He said he borrowed the vest from a friend, “until I can buy one, that I can afford.”

Eldred Woodford, president of the Canadian Sealers Association, didn’t appeared swayed by Cleary’s apparel.

“You can put on a Band-Aid on a cut, but not necessarily is that cut going to heal,” he quipped.

Woodford said he thought Cleary’s comments about the hunt were out of order.

He noted sealers have been working collaboratively with the federal and provincial governments to improve markets and the industry itself.

“We’ve done all the training required to make it a professional industry,” he said.

While he didn’t agree with Cleary’s remarks, Woodford did concur there needs to be a debate with the population in general.

“The majority of the population doesn’t understand the industry, other than the false propaganda portrayed by the animals rights groups.”

Twitter: @SteveBartlett_

Organizations: CBC Radio, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Canadian Sealers Association

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Recent comments

  • Isabella Ireland
    January 29, 2012 - 14:08

    I am disgusted, Mr. Cleary!

  • Jackie Logans
    January 27, 2012 - 13:27

    The Seal Hunt: it's as much about cultural history in Newfoundland as it is about a primarily northern outport seasonal part of the fishing industry. The fact remains, however, that the seal fishery is seen by most people outside the tenth province as an emotional issue, and is driven by self-serving professional and organized protesters who paint a picture of Newfoundlanders as barbarians. For Newfoundland, it's a no-win situation, and facts about the annual so-called seal hunt do not register or alter the entrenched views of opponents who delight in using such phrases as baby seals (never seal pups), while showing heart-tugging photos of whitecoats and smearing fishermen, who engage in the seal fishery, with the most negative and extreme propaganda imaginable. Even though seal pups are no longer part of the equation or that harp seals are abundant is of no concern to the anti-sealing crusaders. They would never acknowledge that Canada's Seal Hunt is merely an outdoor abattoir operation, supplementing the income of fishermen.

  • Bert
    January 27, 2012 - 13:00

    Julian Maytum...hmmmm Different name. No phone listing in NL. Have you heard of PETA???

    • Julian Maytum
      January 27, 2012 - 17:05

      Dear Bert: It is a different name. It originated from the U.K. like most names from here in Newfoundland. Also, they have invented these things called cell phones now so we don't need land lines which explains why you won't find my number in the phone book. I have heard of PETA yes. I am not a supporter nor do I work for them. I do live in Newfoundland and I do support the seal hunt. I will be happy to answer any more "on topic" questions you might have. +Jackie Logans = well said.

  • robert tucker
    January 27, 2012 - 12:13

    It is a funny thing how Nl potiticans cozy to the Ottawa people,then when they try to get ellected they're anti-ottawa! It occured with the two Brians and C. Wells, the Roger whats his name, Maaning get ya senators seat, and others. Now R Cleary is no different!!! If Cleary is serious, he should wear the vest in the house of Parliament and to every NDPipper meeting! It is interesting how Cleary backs away!!!

  • Julian Maytum
    January 27, 2012 - 09:56

    Well I have to scratch my head at the comments. Talk about missing the point. I know it isn't fair that the rest of the world slaughters and eats cows by the millions every day but Mr. Cleary has figured out that cows don't look like "sea kitties" and whether or not we like it; the rest of the world looks at us the same way WE look at those countries and people that eat dogs. We can rage away about our rights and our culture or we can take some direction from a politician that has the stones to ask that we look at this industry. He hasn't said anything about taking away peoples jobs or doing away with the industry. Can we not have a sensible conversation about this industry without the tin foil hat crowd being loud and obnoxious and stopping us from moving forward? Mr. Cleary. I support you. Ignore the mob and keep doing the fantastic job representing us here! Let's talk about this. Talking never hurt anyone.

  • Basil Ryan
    January 27, 2012 - 09:39

    I understood exactly what Ryan Cleary said from his first comments. There is no doubt in my mind that he totally supports the seal hunt and wants it to flourish like it has never done! He merely asks 'How do we do it?' Whatever is happening right now, is 'small scale'. How do we turn it into 'big scale'? The people complaining about his comments are from other political parties who distorted his words to their own advantage. I think they owe a big apology to Ryan Cleary. It's so easy to try and destroy someone, but so difficult to truly support!

  • Foghorn Leghorn
    January 27, 2012 - 09:35

    Yes I can see it now, NTV has a new superhero , Capt. Newfoundland - Ryan Cleary. The only things he is missing is a Newfoundland and Labrador flag for a cape and a spandex suit........ Oh no now I am starting to get a bad mental picture for sure!

    • Like seal flippers
      January 27, 2012 - 12:06

      Now that they have no one to buy the pelts it will be up to us to buy the meat to pay the fisherman expensives hope all who want them to keep the hunt alive will pay the price when they tripple at the wharf.

  • Randy
    January 27, 2012 - 09:27

    apparently Cleary had to borrow that vest for his picture takeing .His big issue during the election was Custodial Management of the grand banks,now he wants to trade off the seal hunt,to be heard about that.Mr Cleary should try and provide good representation for the peaple of mount pearl,like Ms Coady did,and not go talking like some space cadet

  • Jim Harris
    January 27, 2012 - 09:24

    What. A. Plug.

  • Turry from town
    January 27, 2012 - 09:17

    I hope that sealskin vest you are wearing floats Cleary. Your going to need it to keep your political career from going down the tube.

  • c
    January 27, 2012 - 08:41

    Where is John Crosbie and his seal skin coat when you need him?

  • Theresa
    January 27, 2012 - 08:38

    I couldn't believe I was actually hearing this story. Ryan Cleary, a Newfoundland Politician, suppose to be representing our interests in Ottawa, is actually questioning a long time traditional way of life in our Province. Ryan, I guess you just wrote your ticket to be a one term politician.

  • Dave
    January 27, 2012 - 08:33

    If there was any "spin" here it started with Mr. Cleary himself. You stuck your foot in your own mouth, Mr. Cleary.

  • Chester
    January 27, 2012 - 08:17

    Ryan Cleary loves to be controversal, always has and always will. It's funny because looking back at his former newspaper days I really only remember the fact that he liked to stir the pot to help sell newspapers, now he is in a different arena where you have to practice what you preach, act on your words, or in Ryan's case eat them. If you polled Newfoundlanders their thoughts on the Sea Hunt they would be passionate about it and not treat it like a dollar sign. Heritage and culture does not have a price tag, for example: government helps promote Innu and Innuit cultures are just as important and we don't talk about washing that away. We need to have leaders that want to stand up for our values and heritage. Let me know when you are done with that vest it would go well with my seal skin hat that I proudly wear. As a person who lives in his riding I am glad I didn't vote for him.

  • Don II
    January 27, 2012 - 08:16

    Well, well, well....surprise..surprise, Cleary is wearing a seal skin vest. The only things he forgot to bring with him were a rifle,a club, his seal hunting license, a seal skin coat and a pair off seal skin boots which he could have borrowed from former Fisheries Ministers John Efford and John Crosbie! I am surprised that Cleary didn't try to refloat "The Kyle" from her Harbour Grace sandbar resting place and head off to the Front.That was a quick rise and fall of a would be political maverick. My support and admiration for Ryan Cleary's political courage has crumbled faster than his backbone. Cleary has shown with his seal skin vest, which I guess he hopes will be a political barb proof vest, that he is just another cowardly politician who back peddles as fast as he can when the heat gets too hot. Well, my friend, the old saying goes: "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." I expect that Cleary's political career will be a one hit wonder. I hope Mr. Cleary has not let his membership in the Canadian Journalist Association lapse and has kept his contacts with Newspaper editors up to date. I guess we will see Mr. Cleary back in the Newspaper business after his political career is over. So much for profiles in political courage. I am reminded of what Sen. Lloyd Bentsen told then Senator...later Vice President, Dan Quayle, who compared his own political experience and ability to that of JFK. Bentsen said: "Senator, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine and Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy!"

  • John
    January 27, 2012 - 08:12

    Cleary has let the horse out of the barn; he can NOT close the barn door now. Now I have to wonder if he's a silent member of the anti-sealing groups. He probably wouldn't even know what a flipper or a carcass looks like if it was in his face.

  • Charles
    January 27, 2012 - 07:47

    Ryan,I ratter be a posts boy for PEET,Then a posts boy for the MUSKRAT FALLS>

  • Wes Reid
    January 27, 2012 - 07:44

    Cleary would wear Dunderdale's old, oversized wardrobe if he knew it would get him elected. It's time he and the downtown townie clique, including their chummy CBC and Telegram comrades get over being embarrassed about the seal hunt and Newfoundland outport culture. But, oh dear, the horror of having to explain your views to your non-Newfoundland dinner party guests who may inquire about the hunt. Pan-fried cod, anybody?

  • Too Funny
    January 27, 2012 - 07:32

    Man, this guy is cheesy. I think I can see the sales tag still on the vest so that he can return it later.

  • Spectator
    January 27, 2012 - 07:24

    Another case of the NDP flip flopping

  • Leon
    January 27, 2012 - 07:10

    "until I can buy one that I can afford" This is ridiculous. He makes $160,000 plus expenses. If he was really committed to the seal hunt he would own that vest already.

  • Fred Penner
    January 27, 2012 - 06:51

    Mr Cleary asks valid questions which serve him well as he is always desperate for attention.

  • Charles
    January 27, 2012 - 06:50

    Ryan, you only ask a question, Other are useing this for their own SHORT COMING. Because if they had a plan for the SEAL HUNT, They would put into ACTION. Don't worry about,