Controversy swirls around Seal Day

James
James McLeod
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Opposition objects; one sealer calls it ‘damn stupid’

Ryan Cleary — File photo

Jack Troake, one of the province’s most outspoken sealer, doesn’t think much of Seal Day up on Parliament Hill.

“It’s so damn stupid, it makes no sense. Where were all these people before?”

Troake said after years of attacks from protesters trying to portray the most graphic, horrifying aspects of the seal hunt, an event in Ottawa won’t do much to change the fortunes of hunters.

“I don’t know what they can do now, b’y, because there’s that much damage done that it’s going to take a lot to correct it,” he said. “It don’t mean a thing. This is a 40-year problem, 40 years and then some.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a gaggle of ministers participated in an event before question period in front of the House of Commons.

MPs wore sealskin lapel pins, along with other seal attire in the chamber Thursday.

“Our government is firmly committed to defending the legitimate economic activities of Canadians,” said Harper said in a statement. “Canada’s sealing industry sustains thousands of Northern and East Coast jobs and the traditional way of life of a number of Aboriginal groups in our country.”

Sheryl Fink, director of the seal program for the International Fund for Animal Welfare was dismissive of the Seal Day, saying that they hold similar “photo ops” ever year.

“I guess they couldn’t manage to choke back the seal meat again this year so this year they’re doing lapel pins made out of seal fur,” she said. “Our impression is that this industry is pretty much dead and gone; we’ve got the EU ban on seal products, we’ve got the Russian ban on harp seal fur.”

Fink said the government should be focusing on how to transition seal harvesters out of the industry, given that it’s no longer possible to make a living at it.

Provincial Fisheries Minister Darin King was also at the event. He said that the province’s sealing industry will need federal help to open up foreign markets.

“We really need the federal government with us on the international scene,” he said. “Our government hopefully will try and urge the Russians to reconsider.”

But while it was all smiles and seal fur in Ottawa, opposition politicians were grumbling that the government had turned the whole thing into an unnecessarily partisan event.

NDP MP Ryan Cleary was at home in Mount Pearl Thursday for the opening of the Frosty Festival; he said he’d heard nothing about the Seal Day event until the last minute.

Cleary dismissed the government’s event, saying they really haven’t done anything to prevent foreign countries from closing their doors to seal products.

“It’s obviously a stunt to make it seem like the Conservative government is doing something in regards to the seal industry,” he said. “People want to buy seal products around the world; bottom line is they can’t because governments have introduced bans.”

Liberal MP Gerry Byrne also missed the event, because he didn’t hear about it until the last minute, and had other plans. Byrne said if the government had wanted to send a stronger message about the sealing industry, they should have made an effort to include other parties.

“There’s a lot of people that would like to participate in this, that would like to be part of it, it’s a real opportunity to show a non-partisan caucus on this,” he said. “At this point in time in the industry’s circumstance, you need to be firing on all cylinders.”

One Liberal who was up in Ottawa Thursday was Yvonne Jones.

As an MHA for Labrador, Jones will be participating in the Northern Lights conference which brings together people from across Canada’s north.

At Saturday night’s gala dinner, Jones will be hosting an all-sealskin fashion show.

“The sealing industry has become a major part of that particular show, because the aboriginal cultures of the north are very much dependent on the sealing industry,” she said. “It’s been a traditional way of life for us, and we want to preserve that, but we’d like to do that on a commercial level, ensuring that we have good export markets.”

 

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: International Fund for Animal Welfare, EU

Geographic location: Mount Pearl, Ottawa, Canada Parliament Hill East Coast

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Recent comments

  • sandy dejager
    February 09, 2012 - 21:08

    These clowns know that the seal hunt is dead. Long live the seals!

  • Lionheart
    February 09, 2012 - 02:17

    The seal hunting is a pathetic joke. No country wants your rotting seal corpses. Get it through your unfeeling heads, eh? It's an aboriginal custom, not a commercial industry. Now your country is trying to justify making it commercial? Please. That's a very far stretch. You seem to think your charming the world and yet we all see your true colors. NO ONE WANTS DEATH ON THEIR HANDS OR BODY. Leave living beings alone. The world is obviously trying to send you all a message. Too bad you can't see it. But soon, your wallets will!

  • Lionheart
    February 09, 2012 - 02:15

    The seal hunting is a pathetic joke. No country wants your rotting seal corpses. Get it through your unfeeling heads, eh? It's an aboriginal custom, not a commerical industry. Now your country is trying to justify making it commercial? Please. That's a very far stretch. You seem to think your charming the world and yet we all see your true colors. NO ONE WANTS DEATH ON THEIR HANDS OR BODY. Leave living beings alone. The world is obviously trying to send you all a message. Too bad you can't see it. But soon, your wallets will!

  • blackcreeks
    February 05, 2012 - 06:38

    How have i never heard that fishman complian about too much fish and said fish needs to cull? Who gives human the right to decide which creature is too much and which is too less, and people now consider themselves as God? And when all seals are die and there is still no fish, then you'll finally find out its human that damage the ocean.

  • Your mom
    February 04, 2012 - 05:31

    Enough with the seal hunt and all the b*tching which comes with it, for both anti and pro! It's over, there's no demand anymore so move on. Times are changing and it is what it is. What we should be focusing on now is a BUY BACK. And before people start even start to complain; do some research first!!! Firstly all politicians make excuses. secondly, a seals diet is only 3% cod fish. And thirdly PETA actually cares about animals that's why they've been so determined DUH. Again, times are changing so learn to adapt and stop complaining about what's done.

  • Leigh Fouire
    February 04, 2012 - 00:40

    Funny how none of these pro clubbers even consider the effects of over fishing or look at any other scientific facts that are against the seal hunt. Any ''human'' who thinks its ok to club a baby seal to death and is not willing to even look at other possibilities is SICK.

  • karen
    February 03, 2012 - 13:03

    Give the sealers a Buy Back for their licenses and be done with it.

  • holy smokes
    February 03, 2012 - 12:04

    Maybe we can send up a couple hundred pounds of flipper and carcass and actually 'see' some support.....by dishing out a few meals to those MPs and make sure harper gets to take the first bite......if they don't want to eat 'crow' so to speak.....

  • nowIsee
    February 03, 2012 - 11:25

    That sweater vest would look much better with a big ole' can of paint all over it. What an embarrisment to the rest of the country and the world we have become.

  • Barrelman
    February 03, 2012 - 10:59

    Yesterday's pathetic partisan display in Ottawa by the Harper minions and toadies is more than too little, too late. It also confirms we should continue an adult cull to control seal populations as cod stocks to recover, plus start "clubbing" some sense into federal Harperites as well.

  • Joe Brown
    February 03, 2012 - 10:54

    Short notice for Gerry Byrne? If he was in Ottawa at the house where he should be than short notice or not he could hsve been there. He misses more time at the house than all the other MHAs together. The same goes for Cleary if he was in Ottawa like he is suppose to to fight for us than he could have made it there too. Seems like these MPs spends more time home than at their jobs...

  • jim
    February 03, 2012 - 10:15

    lets see now, all the pigs(politicians ) will be there, will they talk seals or pensions? OOPS ! the chances of mp's talking about there pensions is like winning a lottery. NIL !

  • Island Lady
    February 03, 2012 - 09:12

    It will be so interesting when the day comes that there is no seal hunt and the overpopulation of the species is such that the herd will require a cull. Then the entire seal will be burnt or disposed of, nothing used from it. And will PETA and the rest of those terrorists be protesting the cull? No, they will moved on to the next money grab where they can use their lies to line their pockets with the dollars of actors and celebrities who have no idea what is happening in the world.

  • KD
    February 03, 2012 - 07:33

    In my opinion politics needs to be removed from everything that effects the lives of the population these people were elected to represent the voters not their political aspirations until such time as this happens the liberals and the ndp will never get a vote from me Cleary wasnt long steeping back from the limelight when he realised he had the foot in mouth disease I suppose when your mouth never stops you are bound to say something that doesn make sense

  • mainlander
    February 03, 2012 - 07:16

    What are we going to do about the overpopulation of these glorified rats (the seals, not the politicians)? I guess a cull is a good way to get rid of them.

  • Political watcher
    February 03, 2012 - 06:46

    Good old Gerry "Boyle" Byrne; couldn't make it because of short notice. BS, here we have an issue as serious as this one and he still chooses to play politics with it.