Adventures in the Bizarre World of Canadian Politics

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
Founder and President of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

In a world where his Holiness the Dalai Lama is described as a terrorist leader by a world power like China, it is hardly an insult to be called a terrorist by some backwoods robber baron of a premier in Newfoundland.

Last week Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams called me a "terrorist" because Sea Shepherd was documenting the slaughter of seals in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. My response to him on Canadian national television was to either arrest me or to shut up.

I have never been convicted of a felony, I have never injured a single person, in fact I am so non-violent that I don't eat meat. I am not wanted for any crime anywhere in the world. I am not on any "no-fly" lists. I am not barred from entry into any country. I don't have the FBI sitting on my doorstep monitoring my every move so just what kind of terrorist am I?

Williams said I would not be allowed to enter Newfoundland while he is Premier. I would like to see how he would stop me. The last time I looked, Newfoundland was still a part of Canada unfortunately and I am a Canadian citizen. I suppose he will charge me with slumming or being in Newfoundland without a club.

Dan Leger, a columnist for the Halifax Chronicle Herald has the answer. According to this right wing bullet-headed scribe, both Elizabeth May the leader of the Canadian Green Party and I are "tofu-eating terrorists."

I don't really know where "tofu eating terrorists" are placed on the spectrum of terrorism but there seems to be a vast chasm between the action of video-taping the slaughter of a seal and flying a passenger jet into a civilian building.

It has been amazing to witness the polarization of the Canadian media in response to the campaign to oppose the vicious slaughter of harp seals. On one side there is "the defend the slaughter at all costs" and on the other there is the movement to abolish an industry that really has no place in the modern civilized world.

It's time for Newclublanders, Magandertal Islanders and a few Cape Brutish Islanders to toss away the hak-a-pik and get an education. The days when the uneducated "the world owes us a living crowd", can continue to plunder the oceans is almost over. Their awesome greed has already diminished the oceans of fish, marine mammals, sea-birds and even invertebrates and still the slaughter continues as they move on to lesser valued species after trashing the more valuable.

One of the things my critics don't appreciate is that I relish their animosity. In the last week I have received a flurry of hate letters from the Magdalen Islands. Apparently some linguistic wit came up with the wording for a T-shirt and a hate letter campaign using the French word for seal to say "Phoque You Paul Watson!"

I have to say I was flattered. Each of those letters cost $.96  to send so they spent a few hundred dollars sending me four words, so after reading the first one there was no reason to read the rest. My only disappointment was they did not send me one of those neat T-shirts. I would proudly wear one.

Apparently some people think that their opinion of me actually means something. Premier Williams called me the most disgusting and vile excuse for a human being that he ever met which is strange since I've never met the man. Loyola Hearn called me a "money sucking manipulator." Ouch! I suppose. I don't really know what he was trying to say since the Canadian seal slaughter sucks millions of Canadian tax dollars down the drain every year to support the diminishment of life in the seas, and we raise funds from willing volunteers who support our efforts to save life in the oceans.

Columnist Jim Leger actually suggested that the only reason the seal slaughter continues is because the government refuses to give into me and that I am the reason the seals are dying. Now there's an off the wall, over the top perspective! Jimmy boy admits that there is no other reason to support the hunt other than to oppose me. In other words, the Canadian government is spending 24 million dollars a year supporting a 6 million dollar industry just so they can say I did not whoop their ass.

I have been physically beaten by those knuckle dragging baby killing goons on the Magdalen Islands and over the years I have been beaten and interrogated by the Fishery thugs and the Mounties so getting called a few names this year is actually quite nice, relatively speaking.

It was amazing to watch axe swinging fishermen attack our crew as the police watched with their hands in their pockets in St. Pierre. It was astounding to hear the Canadian government say they boarded our ship to protect the sealers from our "deadly" cameras, a few weeks after the gross incompetence of the Canadian Coast Guard left four sealers dead in a frozen sea.

Canada did everything we expected them to this year thanks to the very easily manipulated  Loyola Hearn, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans who hails from, you guessed it folks, the province of Newfoundland - seal torturing capital of the world, where men are serial baby killers and politicians salivate like dogs anytime they can see an issue to distract from their own incompetence.

Oh I forgot, Hearn called me "gutless" for not being on the ship when it was boarded thereby depriving him of the pleasure of having his thugs beat the crap out of me again as they have so many times before. At the same time, he accused me of not respecting the law.

The reason that I was not on the ship is that there is a court order barring me from the Gulf of St. Lawrence for my past "crimes" of witnessing a seal kicked in the face and tortured. So for abiding by my court order, this paragon of political virtue calls me gutless. If I had been on the ship he would have accused me of being in contempt of a court order and I would have gone to prison.

I may originally be from Atlantic Canada Mr. Hearn but I'm not completely stupid.

I said a week before our ship was boarded that the best thing that could happen to publicize the seal slaughter this year is if the government attempted to arrest the ship in international waters. I also said that I did not think Loyola Hearn was that stupid. I guess I was wrong.

He handed us a bonanza of international publicity and he grabbed the tar baby that we had dangled in front of him. If it goes to court our GPS unit that recorded our movements will prove beyond any doubt that we never entered Canadian waters. If they destroy or tamper with that unit, they will surely lose the case. They simply cannot prove the Farley Mowat ever ventured into Canadian territorial waters because it was our strategic decision to never enter Canadian waters.

We will fight him in the courts as we have humiliated him in the media. Our objective is the total and complete abolishment of the slaughter of seals, a crusade that I have been fighting since 1975 and for which I will never surrender or retreat until we secure a complete and lasting victory for the seals and the oceans.

Oscar Wilde once said that "the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."

Because of this campaign, they are talking about us and the seals in the Canadian House of Commons, they are talking about us in the bars and cafes of Atlantic Canada, they are talking about us in the European Parliament, and they are talking about us around the world and it really does not matter if the talk is positive or negative to our cause - what is important is that we are raising awareness and provoking discussion and that is the nature of a free and democratic society.

The best way to describe ourselves is as an acupuncture needle. We probe and stimulate a response, we get people thinking and we make things happen, we set in motion a series of actions and actions designed to provoke and then we let the campaign run its natural course once we set it firmly on the rail to the destination we wish to reach.

For when all is said and done, it was a simple campaign. All the Sea Shepherd crew did was take pictures and shoot video of seals being killed. We did not injure or attempt to injure anyone. We did not damage or attempt to damage any property. We did not disrupt nor attempt to disrupt the killing of the seals.

We took pictures! And in response to this the government of Canada sends a para-military police unit with heavy arms to storm a Dutch ship in international waters. They have seized the ship without charges or explanation. They arrested the Captain and crew, charged them with approaching a seal being killed and then deported them making it impossible to attend their own trial. They roughed up 15 other crew-members and restrained them without arrest against their will.

So after storming our ship with weapons and stealing it and the possessions of the crew, the Canadian government calls us "pirates."

In response to our documenting atrocities on the ice, the Canadian government charges us with  unlawfully documenting said atrocities and calls us "terrorists" and a threat to democracy.

But this of course is in the bizarre world where the Dalai Lama is a terrorist and the Chinese are "good communists" compared to those "bad communists" in Cuba. Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney can rob the country blind and is now called a "statesman." Oil companies can loot the planet for fantastic profits without criticism from the government yet organizations that don't spend a dime of the taxpayers' money to protect wildlife and the environment are called "money suckers."

As they say in Canada, "Go figure, eh!"