Canadian Senator Sees Defeat for the Seal Killers

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

One of the most hysterically outspoken defenders of seal clubbers is Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette of Quebec.

In a holiday greeting to her supporters, she admitted that Canada is losing the fight to defend the cruel killing of seals.

Earlier this year, Captain Paul Watson debated her live on the Mike Duffy CTV television show.

The Senator admitted then that she had never witnessed the seal slaughter when Captain Watson asked her to justify her claim that "the seal hunt is the most well-regulated humane slaughter of animals in the world."

Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette Holiday greetings are below in both English and French; Captain Watson has inserted his comments (in bold text) in the English version. 

From Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette

Dear Madam, Dear Sir:

With the parliamentary session at an end and the holiday season upon us, I want to thank you for supporting my position in favour of the seal hunt and the ordinary Canadians who practice this subsistence hunt.

The Senator does not have to thank voters because Senators in Canada are appointed for life by the Prime Minister. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau appointed Céline as a Senator because; well, let's just say they were good friends.

You were one of the 2500 people who wrote me to encourage me, and I can tell you I drew strength from all those messages.

Wow, 2500 people in a country of 30 million, and the strange thing is that most of the people who wrote to her were opposed to the seal slaughter and all received her holiday greetings. Céline you really should read your mail and not register every message received as a positive statistic.

I also want to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a happy holiday and the best for 2007.

We Canadians have built a responsible country that does as much as other countries, and sometimes more, to protect its animal species. We are as sensitive as the Europeans or Americans to life in all its forms and to the preservation of animal biodiversity in particular. The Royal Commission of Inquiry chaired by Justice Malouf, in 1986, issued a detailed report on the best practices to adopt for the seal hunt. She concluded that hunting with a club, when done properly, is not cruel, and is in fact often less cruel than the killing methods used in commercial slaughterhouses.

Canada does not even have an Endangered Species Act, and the mass slaughter of over 325,000 harp seal pups hardly qualifies the nation as "responsible" and "sensitive." Justice Malouf is a man Céline. His name is Albert H. Malouf. It was not Alberta. This is just another indication of how misinformed the Senator is on the issue of seals and sealing. Anyone who has witnessed the slaughter (The Senator has not) or has viewed any part of the hundreds of hours of video footage available will dismiss the lies of the Canadian government that the slaughter is humane. It is horrifically cruel. To say it is humane is sort of like accusing Canadian mass child murderer Clifford Olson of mildly abusing children.  

The battle is not finished though: in late July, I went to the Magdalen Islands to meet the seal hunters. I took the opportunity to offer my support for the creation of an association of hunters, seal-product workers, and Aboriginal representatives to counterbalance all the future propaganda against the seal hunt.

Gee, not another association Céline. More bureaucrats to waste more taxpayer dollars. There are no aboriginal people involved in the East Coast seal hunt and there are no aboriginal people living in the Magdalen Islands. The aboriginal people of Newfoundland the Beothuk peoples were exterminated along with the Newfoundland wolf, Labrador duck, walrus, auk, sea mink, and numerous other species by these people who embrace killing and extinction as part of their culture.

More recently, I met with parliamentarians from Europe (Great Britain, France, Germany) and Mexico and saw how little they know about the seal hunt and the lives of Eastern Canadians.

Of course, they can't know any less than Céline does herself. I think many of them have actually seen the videos. Word is that they were not impressed.

We Canadians can be proud of the complex but fascinating and envied country that we built while remaining true to our values. I defended those values in the governments of Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Jean Chrétien. Now, under the leadership of Stéphane Dion, I will do more than ever to defend them and to ensure that the voices of minorities are heard.

As a Canadian and a Maritimer, I am grossly ashamed to be a citizen of a nation that inflicts such horrific cruelty on defenceless animals. In Canada, it is illegal to witness, film, or photograph a seal being killed. That is not a value to be proud of. Ignoring Kyoto, slaughtering wolves, polar bear, and whales are not activities to be proud of. The complete destruction of the Northern cod is an embarrassment and massive clearcuts of the forests are shameful. As a Canadian from a fishing community in New Brunswick, I can say that the Senator's values are not my values.  

Also, just how did she defend these "values?" No one elected her. She just shows up, cuts few ribbons, attends luncheons, and collects a hefty check for life for feeding at the public trough. Canadian Senators are parasites. The position is bestowed out of favouritism for favours given and we know what favours you gave Mr. Trudeau, don't we Céline?

But nothing lasts forever and Prime Minister Harper's policy shows just how quickly this image of Canada as open and tolerant, diplomatic and measured, multicultural and peace-seeking can disappear if we are not careful.

Yes, and the seal slaughter is an obscenity that we are working to see abolished. We don't want the slaughter to last forever, and yes, we are intolerant of cruelty, waste, and slaughter as any sane person should be. We want no part of cultures that identify themselves with cruelty and slaughter, and such cultures should not be tolerated in Canadian Society.

As for the seal hunt, it is clear that Stephen Harper's government is not doing enough to protect the interests of Canadians.  It is also clear that the Bloc Québécois has nothing to say on the subject. Who really cares about a handful of Canadians whose way of life is shamelessly denounced by influential groups?

We care about the seals, Céline, and Stephen Harper is on your side, you silly little unelected Senator. He's a bigger defender of your darling little club-wielding knuckle-dragging thugs than your previous idols Pierre and Jean. Do we care about their culture of slaughter? The answer is NO. DO we want to see this culture destroyed? The answer is a resounding YES. The Bloc Quebecois obviously have more important considerations, and your darling Liberals, well, they've run the environment into the ground over the last three decades but it really is all about partisan politics with you, Céline.

I tell you, we are close to losing the war. Faced with an unprecedented offensive by American lobbies, our government is providing an unfocused and limp reaction. That is why I am planning a major counter-offensive, but I cannot do it without the authorities' cooperation and your support. I am counting on you!

Thank-you Celine for acknowledging that the sealers are losing the war. I would like to correct you on something. The people who have led the fight against sealing for the last 30 years have been primarily Canadians. Rebecca Aldworth is from Newfoundland. Farley Mowat lives in Cape Breton, Brian Davies is from New Brunswick. I am from New Brunswick. I realize you don't know much about the history of opposition to sealing but you should be made aware that the struggle to oppose sealing is a Canadian movement, born in Canada and led by Canadians. It was Canadians who reached out for foreign support in the United States, Europe, and the rest of the world because foreign pressure is the only pressure that the Canadian government listens to.

So, you are planning a major counter-offense. Oh, we are scared already Céline. What are you going to do? Make it illegal to witness or document the seal slaughter? Oops, that's been done! Heavy sentences for violators who dare witness the slaughter? Maybe another Royal Commission to white-wash the blood away? How about a public announcement stating that the hunt is the most well-regulated, most responsibly managed, most humane slaughter of animals on earth? Yes that will get everyone's attention. Or do you intend to go out on the ice and bash in a baby seal's little head yourself to demonstrate your support for the slaughter?  Maybe you should do a little research on the issue before shooting hysterical Christmas greetings off to a list of "supporters" most of whom oppose you because you're to lazy to read your mail.   

ONCE AGAIN, THANK YOU AND HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and your loved ones.

The Honourable Céline Hervieux-Payette, P.C.


This is the French language version of her Holiday Letter:

Chère Madame, Cher Monsieur

A présent que les travaux parlementaires touchent à leur fin et que s'installe le temps des fêtes, je tenais à vous remercier pour le soutien que vous m'avez témoigné lors de ma prise de position en faveur de la chasse aux phoques et en faveur des Canadiens modestes qui pratiquent cette chasse de subsistance.

Vous avez été parmi les quelques 2500 personnes qui m'ont écrit pour m'encourager et je puis vous dire que tous ces messages m'ont donnée de la force.

Je saisis aussi cette occasion pour vous souhaiter, à vous et à vos proches, d'agréables fêtes et une excellente année 2007.

Nous, les Canadiens, avons bâti un pays responsable, qui assure aussi bien que d'autres, et parfois mieux, la protection de ses espèces animales. Nous sommes aussi sensibles que les Européens ou les Américains à la vie sous toutes ses formes et à la préservation de la biodiversité animale en particulier. La commission royale d'enquête présidée par le juge Malouf a, en 1986, rendu un rapport détaillé sur les meilleures pratiques à adopter pour la chasse aux phoques. Elle a conclu que la chasse au gourdin, lorsqu'elle est pratiquée correctement, n'est pas plus cruelle, et est même souvent moins cruelle, que les méthodes d'abattage utilisées dans les abattoirs commerciaux.

Toutefois, le combat ne s'arrête pas là : à la fin juillet, je me suis rendue aux Îles-de-la-Madeleine pour rencontrer les chasseurs de loups-marins. J'ai profité de cette occasion pour apporter mon soutien à la création d'une association regroupant les chasseurs, les travailleurs des produits du loup-marin et des représentants autochtones afin de faire contrepoids à toute propagande future contre la chasse aux phoques.

J'ai plus récemment rencontré des parlementaires d'Europe (Grande-Bretagne, France, Allemagne) et du Mexique pour m'apercevoir combien était faible leur compréhension de la chasse aux phoques et leur connaissance de la vie des Canadiennes et Canadiens de l'Est.

Nous, Canadiens, pouvons être fiers du pays, complexe mais fascinant et envié, que nous avons bâti, pour autant que nous restions fidèles à nos valeurs. Ces valeurs, je les ai défendues dans les gouvernements de Pierre Elliott Trudeau et de Jean Chrétien. Désormais, sous le leadership de Stéphane Dion, je continue plus que jamais à les défendre et à faire entendre la voix des minorités.

Mais rien n'est acquis à jamais et la politique du Premier Ministre Harper montre à quel point l'image de ce Canada ouvert et tolérant, diplomate et mesuré, multiculturel et acteur de paix peut rapidement disparaître si nous n'y prenons garde.

Concernant la chasse aux phoques, force est de constater que le gouvernement de Stephen Harper ne protège pas suffisamment les intérêts des Canadiens. Force est de constater aussi que le Bloc Québécois reste muet sur le sujet. Qui se soucie réellement de l'avenir d'une poignée de Canadiens dont le mode de vie est honteusement dénoncé par des groupes influents ?

Je vous le dis, nous sommes proches de perdre la guerre. Face à une offensive sans précédent de lobbys américains, notre gouvernement ne présente qu'une réaction vague et molle. C'est pourquoi, je planifie une contre-offensive d'envergure mais je ne pourrai la mener qu'avec l'implication des autorités et avec votre soutien. Je compte sur vous !

ENCORE MERCI ET HEUREUSE ANNÉE à vous et aux personnes qui vous sont chères.

L'honorable Céline Hervieux-Payette, c.p.