CBC journalist John Furlong, who passed away earlier this month, will be sorely missed. Furlong cared deeply about the people of Newfoundland, and he was never afraid to tackle tough topics.
He spoke his mind but was respectful of others and helped to chip away at the stigmas of issues such as addiction, homosexuality and mental illness. Furlong was also a rare voice of logic on the issue of the annual commercial seal slaughter.
In a 2012 commentary, Furlong suggested that it was time to “pull the plug” on this dying industry. He noted that a Costco in St. John’s made more money in a weekend than the entire seal trade did in a year and said that letting the industry “limp along” was “not fair to the tradition of sealers, it’s not fair to Newfoundlanders, and it’s not fair to the environment.”
With bans on seal fur firmly in place across Europe, Russia, the United States, and other countries, there is no remaining market for the pelts. The government has tried for years to establish a seal-meat market in China and Canada but to no avail.
The seal slaughter also, as Furlong rightly said, gives our country an “enormous black eye.”
In honor of this sometimes tough, but always fair, journalist, our elected officials should heed his words and start devising a practical exit strategy.