Saving Seals for the Money

Commentary by Paul Watson
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

There seems to be common theme running through the propaganda efforts of seal slaughter defenders. The accusation is that we defenders of the seals are defending seals for the money.

The perception from Newfoundland is that all of us who are opposing the slaughter of seals are making vast sums of money and that we are stockpiling incredible wealth in offshore bank accounts.

Last year, in a radio debate with former Canadian Natural Resources Minister John Efford, he openly accused me of having a secret offshore bank account where I've deposited "millions of dollars" obtained from members of the gullible public. 

Of course, being a member of the Liberal cabinet he was quite familiar with offshore bank accounts, slush funds, and easy money. In fact, Efford collected a hefty paycheck on a very extended sick leave until forced to resign for dereliction of his duties.

And this year, we have a new cast of Newfoundland politicians like Premier Danny Williams and Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn screaming about vast sums of money being made by the people working to end the slaughter of seals.

It is interesting that all three of these men hail from Newfoundland, because pretty much all of the hate mail that I get is from Newfoundland and says the same thing. These people are obsessed with the fantasy that we have all become millionaires from saving seals.

One of the reasons for this is that they can't imagine doing anything without making money from it. The very idea of spending time without profit to stop the killing of seals is extremely alien to these critics.

I also love how they keep changing the subject. Today one such critic asked me what we were doing to help bears in China. The answer is that we support Animals Asia and their efforts to save bears. []

They also ask what we are doing to stop the slaughter of cows, pigs, and chickens. The answer is simple - we don't eat them. Of course, when you say that, they label you a fanatic. You can't win, a hypocrite if you eat meat and a fanatic if you don't.

It is constantly a game of distraction with them. Heather Mills McCartney scolded Premier Danny Williams quite properly on the Larry King show when she accused him of being a typical politician, constantly changing the subject and trying to distract from the issue.

But really, that is all that Danny and his fellow seal killers can do. How else can they defend the grossly inhumane and viciously cruel mass slaughter of baby seals? How else can they even attempt to overcome the images of steaming scarlet blood on pristine ice floes or the awful image of grown men swinging clubs to smash and shatter the tiny, thin skulls of little seal pups?

The fact is that sealers are barbarians engaged in an industry that belongs in the dark ages. This kind of torturous trade in pain and carnage has no place in the modern world. It is archaic barbarism plain and simple.

But if Williams, Loyola, and Efford really believe that we are in it for the money, then I have some advice for them: End it! Cut off the supposed source of our wealth. Take away the reason you believe we are making tons of money. Stop killing seals.

I really wish we were raising the great sums of money that these foul defenders of slaughter say we are. It would give us more resources with which to battle their horrendous obscene little industry.

The fact is that every dollar, every pound, euro, and peso we collect to oppose the slaughter of the seals is spent on opposing the slaughter of the seals.

We are public a charity. Our books are open. If we were abusing our funding, we would go to jail. And because we are controversial, we have been audited.

And guess what Williams, Loyola, and Efford? We passed the audit by the Internal Revenue Service without any penalties. Why? Because your propaganda is just that - nothing more than lies created for the sole purpose of attempting to discredit people who are passionately compassionate.

Do you think we like being attacked by your thugs on the ice? Do you think I enjoyed being beaten severely by drunken, violent sealers in the Madgalen Islands? Do you think we like being arrested and jailed - humiliated by Fisheries officers who are nothing more than hired goons for the sealers? Would we endure this for money?

No guys, we do it because we honestly, truly, and sincerely care about these victims of your insane cruelty.

I first opposed your bloody slaughter as a boy of ten in New Brunswick. Do you think I was motivated then by some idea that I would get wealthy from saving seals? Do you really think we are wealthy now? You're in government, you have access. Check our tax records and offer up some evidence. Oh yes, I forgot, we're secretly hording funds in offshore accounts. I'm sure, however, you can find a paper trail to back up your bogus allegations.

But, you don't need to. Do you? Why? Because you have people willing to believe your lies and you provide them with these lies so they will vote for you. The truth would not get you re-elected.

One of the funniest accusations came a few years ago from former Canadian Fisheries Minister John Crosbie. He accused us of having a Swiss bank account. He said he had proof that we had a Swiss bank account. And he was right, he did. The account was in the name of Sea Shepherd Switzerland. Where do you think they would have a bank account - in Germany perhaps? It had 112 Swiss francs in it at the time. The balance of that account never exceeded 2,000 francs. Minor details, but that did not stop Crosbie from crying "Eureka" like he just got the goods on Al Capone.

Meanwhile, his boss Brian Mulroney was sending his wife off to New York on shopping junkets with mysterious cash taken directly from a safe in the Prime Minister's office.

Oh, what tangled webs you politicians weave when you practice to deceive.