Monday, September 15, 2008

Green Party and the Seal Hunt

I recently wrote the Green Party of Canada for two reasons. First to congratulate them on their leaders debate victory. I had been dismayed by the NDP blocking Elizabeth May from the Leaders' Debate and was thinking about changing allegiances. While the NDP did back down, they as yet have not replied to my inquiry as a member why they were trying to block her in the first place. My second reason for writing the Green Party was to ask them about their position on the Newfoundland seal hunt. They were more responsive to my emails, and their position on the Newfoundland seal hunt appears below.

As a result, I think I'll be sticking with the NDP. The Green Party argument that
it is "the largest killing of marine mammals anywhere on the planet" is vacuous. Just because something is big doesn't make it qualitatively different from something that is any other size. It is hypocritical to argue against the seal hunt unless you advocate against all animal harvest, and I don't think they do. That would be a more defensible position than singling out a particular industry because it has a bad reputation.

The perceived cruelty of the seal hunt is mostly just misrepresentative propaganda of the IFAW, showing a few sealers committing crimes for which they were charged. Governments are supposed to work with the facts, not the rumors and misinformed ideas of foreign countries and lobby groups. It seems the Greens wouldn't be up to that task after all. I also disagree that the local impact is minor. The annual seal hunt in Newfoundland provides a living for many rural families who work very hard to provide a product for which there is a market. Any party that doesn't support a sustained and managed sealing industry doesn't get my vote.

Their response, in full:

Dear Christopher,

Thank you very much for your question regarding the commercial seal hunt in Newfoundland. Also, thank you for your support in getting Ms. May in the debates on October 1 and 2... it was a real showing of Canadian democracy at its best.

The Green Party of Canada has developed an extensive vision for Canada entitled Vision Green. If you are interested in our complete platform please visit and click on "Issues".

The seal hunt is viewed by many people in Canada and abroad as an inhumane activity that is not ecologically sound nor sustainable. This is particularly true now that climate change has increased pup mortality in spring due to a lack of, and thin ice.

The annual seal hunt is the largest killing of marine mammals anywhere on the planet. Its enormity threatens Canada's overseas reputation for little local value.

Our Vision

The Green Party does not support a commercial seal hunt in Canada. We are not opposed to subsistence hunting by aboriginal peoples and local communities. However, we consider seal hunting, like whaling, to be a threat to the marine ecosystem. The loss of ice due to climate change threatens seal populations and exacerbates what many believe is an already unsustainable level of hunting:
Again, thank you for your concerns about the seal hunt and taking the time to email us. If you have any questions do not hesitate to email, call or visit our website.


Tyler Andrews
Green Party Information Centre
Centre d'information du Parti Vert

Vote for Tomorrow
Votez pour l'avenir


Canagirl said...


You obviously have not had the "Sustained" experience of having a club bashed into your skull and then a "Managed" bloody hook drag you away from your family.Please explain how that could ever be "perceived" as anything other than cruel.

Unknown said...

Upon what do you base your claim that the "perceived cruelty is mostly just misrepresentative propaganda of the IFAW, showing a few sealers committing crimes for which they were charged".

Are you basing your claim that the seal hunt is acceptably humane and regulated upon personal experience?
Through careful research?

Each and every year, observers collect hours of footage showing many sealers committing clear violations of the Marine Mammal Regulations and inflicting horrendous cruelty upon the seal pups they kill. Each and every year, observers submit this unedited footage to DFO for their review. To date, DFO has done nothing with this evidence. No sealers have been charged for the cruelty they inflict on seal pups.

I have been witness to three seal hunts, in Newfoundland and in Nova Scotia. I saw more than "a few sealers" committing crimes, while DFO was nowhere in sight to "monitor" or "regulate" it. What I saw sickened me, and would sicken any rational and compassionate person who witnessed it. I think it would be a good idea if you witnessed it for yourself before attempting to defend such an atrocity.

Christopher Collins said...

@Canagirl: I wish someone would explain to me how seals got to be such a poster-animal for cruelty. They grow up in their natural environment and die a quick death. I'm sure all the protesters are not vegans, so to me that makes them at best confused, at worst hypocrites.

How is sealing less cruel than raising chickens in pens together in such horrendous conditions that they grow abnormally, peck each other violently, and carry a horrible number of infections and diseases? Is it worse than dragging downed cows with a forklift, terrified, to their slaughter? Where is the IFAW and international outcry for this? Right, there isn't one, because people need to eat.

The suffering propagated by the commercial livestock industry is where I focus my animal rights lobbying efforts. Cows, chickens, and pigs may not be as cute as seals, but they suffer so much more, for the whole lives.

I simply do not agree that an instantaneous death by club to the head is 'cruel'. People who do not practice sealing with the approved techniques are the ones who are cruel, and I fully support prosecuting them to the maximum extent of the law.

@Bridget: I am not defending the atrocity of illegal and criminal treatment of seals. Defending the rights of honest sealers is not the same as defending criminals, who, as you say, should be prosecuted by DFO.