Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Gov. Gen's show of solidarity for seal hunt offensive: animal rights group

The Canadian Press - Tuesday, May 26, 2009

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean's public gutting of a seal in an Inuit community was a repugnant attempt to legitimize the sealing trade, an opponent of Canada's commercial hunt said Tuesday.

"I found it very offensive," said Rebecca Aldworth, a Canadian spokeswoman for Humane Society International.

"Obviously there is a tremendous public understanding of subsistence hunting in Inuit communities and nobody's opposing that, but to try to benefit from an Inuit ceremony in terms of defending the broader commercial seal hunt is simply unacceptable."

While visiting Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, on Monday, Jean gutted and ate a piece of the bleeding, raw heart of a freshly slaughtered seal.

Jean then wiped her fingers and expressed dismay that anyone would characterize the Inuit seal hunt as inhumane.

Earlier this month, the European Parliament voted to ban seal products, a move that was seen by aboriginals and Atlantic Canadian fishermen as an attack on their trade.
Asked Tuesday whether her actions were a message to Europe, Jean replied, "Take from that what you will."

Newfoundland sealer Jack Troake chuckled after hearing of Jean's actions.

"That's great stuff," Troake said.

"I hope the lady realizes that she's got herself into a hell of a mess. ... You've got some of these environmentalists that are going to jump on her, but I think she's strong enough. She can take that, I think."

For years, animal rights groups have intensely lobbied European politicians to implement a ban. At times they enlisted the support of celebrities like rock legend Paul McCartney in their cause.

The European legislation still needs the backing of European Union governments, which could be a mere formality since national envoys have already endorsed it.

Expected to take effect in October, the ban would apply to all products derived from seals, including fur, meat, oil, blubber and even omega-3 pills made from seal oil. But it would offer narrow exemptions for Inuit communities, though it bars them from a large-scale trading of their pelts and other seal goods in Europe.

Products derived from non-commercial and small-scale hunts to manage seal populations would also not be allowed to enter the EU.

Copyright © 2009 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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