We Stand on Guard for Thee (The Seals)

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

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy seals off land.
With glowing hearts we see thee live,
True Native citizens strong and free!
From far across the ice, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.
Shepherds keep the seals alive and cruelty free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for the seals.
O Canada, we stand on guard for whales.

O Canada, for them we will not fail

The Canadian National Anthem
Sea Shepherd version

The Sea Shepherd ship Farley Mowat is in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and continues to stand on guard for the harp seal pups.

There are those who argue that the slaughter of seals is a part of Canada's Maritime culture. As a Canadian raised in Atlantic Canada I reject that idea. It is not a part of my culture nor was it a part of Canada's identity until 1949 when Canada admitted the colony of Newfoundland into the Dominion.

All of the seals killed off of Newfoundland prior to 1949 were not killed by Canadians. Cruel sealing Captains like Abraham Kean were not Canadians. The great sealing fleets of Newfoundland that so ravished and raped the harp seal nurseries were not Canadian.

The current Canadian Minister of Fisheries Loyola Hearn was not born in Canada. He was born in Renews, Newfoundland on March 25, 1943. He was born during the annual Newfoundland slaughter of whitecoat seal pups.

An impoverished Newfoundland joined Canada after they had exterminated the Beothuk Indians, the Labrador Duck, the Giant Auk, the Walrus, the Newfoundland wolf and ravaged the populations of sea-birds and pilot whales. They fed pilot whales to mink in cages until the whales just simply disappeared. They joined Canada reluctantly because Canada offered them the baby bonus - they would receive money just for having kids. That was the deal clincher for Newfoundland.

So they turned down the offer to join the United States. Too bad, the Marine Mammal Protection Act would have ended the seal slaughter back in 1972. They turned down the offer to remain with Britain. Again too bad, because Britain would not be tolerating Newfoundland arrogant cruelty today. No they joined Canada and despite the baby bonus, unemployment insurance and welfare they have never stopped moaning and groaning about how Canadians don't respect them.

Of course we don't. The province of Newfoundland has dragged the Canadian flag through the most innocent of blood and has shouted its contempt for ecology, compassion and kindness to the four corners of the world so that today when people think of Canada they think of mangled seal pup corpses and blood stains on the ice or exterminated Cod or native Indians.

Hearn is a Canadian now of course but how dare he point the finger at me and question my identity as a Canadian. I was born in Canada. My father was an Acadian born in New Brunswick. His father was born in Burton, Prince Edward Island and his father before him was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Our family on my father's side goes back to 1759 with the arrival of Stirling born John Watson as a Highlander soldier under General James Wolfe at Fortress Quebec and he married a woman whose family came to Canada from France in 1680.

I am a twelfth generation Canadian and I resent being called a foreigner by the likes of a man who was not even born in my country yet arrogantly boasts that he is more of a Canadian than myself.

Loyola Hearn is a member of a government whose Minister of Security Stockwell Day believes that dinosaurs are extinct because they could not get on Noah's Ark. This is a fact that severely erodes pride in one's nation and government and it is frightening that the man who controls the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Day) and the man who controls the Canadian Coast Guard (Hearn) have such wildly right wing wacko views.

The same government had John Efford from Newfoundland as Minister of Natural Resources. This man who was also not born in Canada is best known for his frightening Nazi like quote, "Mr. Speaker, I would like to see the 6 million seals, or whatever number is out there, killed and sold, or destroyed or burned. I do not care what happens to them.... What [the fisherman] wanted was to have the right to go out and kill the seals. They have that right, and the more they kill the better I will love it."

Rebecca Aldworth who leads the Humane Society International Canada was born in Newfoundand as a Canadian and she passionately opposes the seal slaughter yet these non-Canadian born Newfoundlanders condemn her for it.

One of my crew who has been fighting the seal hunt with me for over three decades is Captain Jet Johnson of Vancouver, a former Canadian airforce fighter pilot. He served in the Canadian military but said to me that his greatest sense of fulfillment came from defending the seal pups on the ice.

Farley Mowat, the International Chair of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and the man whose name one of our ships so proudly bears is a living Canadian literary treasure. This 87 year old legendary Canadian author is passionate about ending the seal slaughter.

Here is a man whose courage was tested gloriously in the mountains of Italy fighting the German army in a Canadian army uniform who was insulted by Loyola Hearn because Hearn said that Europeans have no right to oppose the slaughter of seals after being liberated by the Canadian army in 1945.

Farley Mowat was in that army that year when Hearn was two years old. As Mowat fought the Nazis, the Newfoundlanders were on the ice bashing in the skulls of defenseless baby seals.

"If the Europeans feel they owe us anything at all then I would ask that they thank-us by saving our seals," said Farley Mowat.

We are most proud of the fact that the Farley Mowat also flies the flag of the Iroquois nations presented to us by the Mohawks of Kanewake.

That is a flag of peace and respect and the Mohawk woman who presented that flag to me in June 2007 are very much of opposed to the massacre of the seal pups.

The majority of Canadians want this horrific slaughter to be ended yet the Canadian government under pressure from non-Canadian born slaughter supporters like Efford and, Hearn continue to represent not the interests of the majority of Canadians, but the limited concerns of their own Newfoundland electorate.

Hearn forgets that he is Minister of Fisheries and Oceans for all of Canada and not the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans of Newfoundland.

Although in the Canadian system he only really has to care what the people in the constituency of St. John's South, Newfoundland think and they apparently hate the seals.

And Hearn defends the slaughter with the same fanatical zeal as his namesake Saint Ignatius of Loyola who helped to found the Jesuits and who once stressed that nature and man should be disciplined to the will of Jesus with the words wrote perinde ac cadaver, "well-disciplined like a corpse".

Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn believes that the more corpses of seals he can deliver to the nation, the greater will be his contribution to Canada and as such he is a Minister of Fisheries and Oceans who is presiding over the funeral of the commercial fishing industry and is threatening the very survival of oceanic eco-systems.

If we are to protect and defend our oceans we need men and women of knowledge who understand marine science, not religious fundamentalists and right wing fanatics who champion the cause of industry and religion over the interests of people and other species.

Whereas St. Ignatius of Loyola fought the Protestant Reformation in the name of the Catholic Church this Loyola is fighting the new ideologies of animal rights, environmentalism and conservation in the name of anthropocentrism. And he is fighting it with the same righteous zeal that once sent women to the stake as witches and denied both truth and reality in the name of Christ.

Loyola Hearn has denounced the Sea Shepherd crew as militant extremists for documenting the cruel slaughter of seal pups. He views the video camera as a weapon on par with the Kalashnikov rifle. He denounces animal rights, animal welfare, conservation and environmentalism as threats to society and he has threatened to respond to Sea Shepherd's challenge to ignore him with violence and threats of persecution through abuse of his powers with the legal system. Instead of allowing the police to investigate and lay charges, Hearn delivers an announcement of charges against Sea Shepherd through the media without notifying Sea Shepherd or the crew charged. In doing so he threatens Europeans on a European ship in international waters with unlawful boarding and detention without even consulting with the Minister of External Affairs about possible consequences.

I am not on that ship because I will not allow Hearn to use me as an excuse to storm my vessel. If he does attack us, he will have to answer to the Europeans for an act of war because our ship the Farley Mowat has not entered Canadian waters and has no intention of doing so.

But although I am not in direct command of my ship in the Gulf of St. Lawrence I am in command of the Sea Shepherd campaign to oppose the senseless slaughter of seal pups and our opposition is deeply rooted in another Canadian tradition that appears to be no longer championed by the political whores in Ottawa.

That tradition is compassion. The compassion of people like Dr. Norman Bethune, David Suzuki, Robert Hunter, Farley Mowat, Stephen Foster, Rebecca Aldworth, Lisa Shalom, Rafe Mair, Aida Flemming, Sinikka Crosland, Bruce Foerster, Anthony Marr, Dave Nickarz, Shannon Mann, Al Johnson and so many, many others who have championed life over death and humanity over cruelty.

We will end the slaughter of seals in Canada. We will never surrender to the forces of death and cruelty and we will do so for the seals, for our children and grand-children and for Canada.

In the face of government violence we will stand on guard for the seals and in doing so we will be standing on guard for Canada.