Seal hunt support

Published on December 6, 2013

Liberal MP Gerry Byrne’s letter to The Telegram on Nov. 28 shows once again that federal Liberal support for the seal hunt isn’t much deeper than talking points.

The federal Liberals have partnered with the anti-seal hunt Green Party, and members of the current Liberal caucus have written various fisheries ministers to voice their opposition to the hunt. 

In all these cases, the Liberals have issued press releases, reassuring the public that they unconditionally support the hunt. 

Do they really?

Recently, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that the European Union’s ban on seal products was against international trade rules.

But in a jaw-dropping development, the WTO said that it was OK to break the rules, because people have been fooled by anti-seal hunt propaganda, and therefore, object to the hunt on the grounds of “morality.” 

I rose in the House of Commons to announce that the Conservative government would appeal the decision and called upon the Liberals and NDP to support our appeal.

Liberal MP Scott Simms, to his credit, got up and said that the Liberals would support our appeal. (St. John’s South-Mount Pearl NDP MP Ryan Cleary, who has mused that the hunt should end, did not respond.) 

But, hang on — less than 24 hours later, Gerry Byrne has a lengthy letter in The Telegram, saying our government should not appeal the decision. His rationale wasn’t based in law and he argued that it wasn’t worth the money to appeal the decision.

So what’s the real Liberal position on the seal hunt and a federal government appeal of the WTO decision?

Liberals can keep speaking out of both sides of their mouth, but our government was clear in our speech from the throne that we will continue to stand behind the thousands of Canadians in coastal and Northern communities who depend on the seal hunt to provide a livelihood for their families, and to maintain their culture, traditions and way of life. 

Gail Shea

Minister of Fisheries and Oceans