Well as most of you know by now the EU is going to ban the sale or import of all Seal products as they deem it to be an inhumane practice. It is also unknown to many that I am Newfoundland and Labrador’s minister of mainland ignorance and stupidity (or at least I feel I am sometimes). Now before I upset everyone, most Mainlanders I meet have nothing but good to say about Newfoundlanders, however I have faced plenty of ignorance and stupidity throughout my life regarding our beloved rocky gem.
The topic of the Seal hunt is a very controversial one and albeit not popular amongst many Canadians, Europeans, and no doubt the world at large for those in tune with the issue. I have been reading some of the comments on various news articles, and every so often someone retorts to a line similar to “what else is a lazy Newfoundlander going to do to get off the couch”. Well my friends for those of you that have a clue about anything you would know this is not true for Newfoundlanders at large. Front lines of Beaumont Hamel anyone? I had a great uncle (one of the last survivors of the Royal Newfoundland regiment) serve in both world wars, a grandfather that lied about his age to serve in world war II, and I am sure many others can share similar stories. We can start from there and work our way to the countless inventions and I am willing to guess we have the most millionaires per capita in Canada, not to mention many hardworking people (and unfortunately some lazy ones like everywhere else).
Most ignorance stems from a lack of knowledge, understanding, or walking a mile in another person’s shoes and I think all is going on in this instance. Further, it disturbs me when Canadians and others are saying Newfoundlanders and seal hunters in other regions of the east coast and the north are barbaric. One must understand that Seal Hunting has been a way of life for years and it is not a very glamorous endeavour but nothing rarely is in killing a life regardless of species. Seal hunting is so much a way of life that I remember my family going to hunt for seals when I was a kid (they would shoot them). This was no different then them going in the woods to hunt for a moose, caribou, birds, rabbits or to catch a cod fish. None of this was for gaming, rather for food. In my time I have never witnessed any of this to be pretty, where you will often see blood trails or a fish getting their eye gouged out by a hook. I am not for one minute advocating barbaric behaviour and mistreatment towards animals and we must do our best to respect nature and our place in it. Personally, I doubt I will ever shoot a seal in my life as I am not that much into hunting but I understand their practice. I just think the anti sealers are going about it the wrong way and there are some questionable truths and facts being misrepresented. Everybody loves glamour and beauty so the rallying cry of welfare for animals gathers around those cute little seal pups with their nice white fur coat. I wonder if they were ugly would these lobbying groups be yelling as hard that these sealers are barbaric and this needs to be stopped and would mass media be as interested. So there will be blood in any killing; animal or otherwise and the ugliness of this once beautiful pup is magnified when you have nice bright ice getting covered in blood. Unlike land, one cannot load the back of a four wheeler on ice flows and be gone with their catch so sometimes the dragging of the pelt is required along with a trail of blood. It is not pretty is it? Indeed, and as I stated I am all for fair treatment of animals however I feel that the lobbying movement that is backed by serious money is using the seal industry to capitalize (yes capitalizing) on the fact this animal is glamorous, especially at birth.
So I think the anti sealing movement should first lay off the barbaric and compassion comments because you will find many of these people to be extremely compassionate and would be some of the first people to help you in time of need if they were your neighbour. Confucius said why complain about the snow on your neighbours roof when there is snow on your own? I live in and quite love Toronto but would many of you urban robots (it is my joke for us city dwellers) see the same compassion from your neighbour? You must understand that this is a way of life for several thousand people, and needless to say the aboriginals have been living off of seals for years. Are we to tell them they cannot eat seals anymore? And why is the EU saying it is okay for aboriginals to sell seal products in the EU and not non-aboriginals? One hand is saying it is inhumane and the other hand is saying it is okay. I am all for getting these sealers away from sealing if it bothers you that much or suggesting ways that would make it more humane in your eyes, however I think there is a movement to shut it down with financial interests in tow.
I also wonder how much the anti-sealing community is trying to offer financial assistance towards sealers getting educated in another profession, etc. Sealing may be only a portion of their income but every bit counts so they would need some replacement and government assistance is not the answer. Then there is the issue of a higher seal population and the consequences that will have on an already dwindling fish population but that’s right, some scientists say seals do not eat that much fish. Tell that to people in my hometown who have never seen this many seals in the mouth of Notre Dame Bay that far inland in years as they are there to eat cod and they will think you have lost your mind. Most people who know anything about seals will think you are an idiot if you believe this. This is a picture someone took in my hometown of Lewisporte, Newfoundland in the spring of this year.
It is the same type of misunderstanding that led Paul McCartney and his wife Heather Mills (at the time) when they were on CNN’s Larry King Live with Newfoundland & Labrador’s Premier Danny Williams. Paul said “Danny, but we are in Newfoundland” when in fact they were actually in Prince Edward Island and they flew in for a camera shot in the ice flows to put their weight into the movement and protest against the seal hunt. They got very close to a pup and they may have in fact touched it. If that is the case there is a high probability the pup’s mother abandoned it because of the human scent, meaning it very likely starved to death and was killed by the contact. Danny, being a Rhodes scholar and a very successful businessman (sold his Cable company to Roger’s for $210mil+) is no fool and he absolutely schooled them in the debate because they didn’t know what they were talking about.
Also, I find it worrisome that a 27 state economic union is wanting to open up a mega free trade agreement with Canada but we are going to experiment and tell you what you can and cannot import. What will be next? And why are they focusing on such a small industry. I think that if the people of the EU are this opposed then they will speak with their wallets. I will admit I have not done a lot of research on the following but isn’t there a huge Mink farm industry to the tune of a billion dollars in Europe and not to mention other questionable animal practices that exist? And what about the Running of the Bulls? Spain, I am not picking on you but I am merely saying is this practice okay to the EU? Spaniards like the anti-sealers are in their full right to speak and practice their rights and defend their positions. I am sure there is plenty of history to support or at least understand this famous tradition that is no doubt an economic boom to that region. I try and keep an open mind and I cannot come out and say I am against the running of the bulls but it seems to me the EU is wanting their cake and to eat it too.
Maybe they will come around and take a liking to some seal flipper pie.
I am propose we start a running of the seals! Maybe that will be ok with the EU!