A Canadian and an American Perspective on the Seal Slaughter

Margaret Wente is a columnist for the Toronto Globe and Mail, one of the most respected newspapers in Canada. Patty Davis is the daughter of the former President of the United States, Ronal Regan, and a writer for Newsweek magazine. What they both have in common is that they are outspoken in opposition to the Canadian Seal slaughter.

Margaret Wente's column on April 7th was "Our black eye: Most propaganda about seal hunt is true" she wrote:

"No matter how you feel about the hunt (and I bet that a large majority of mainland Canadians oppose it), it is a terrible black eye for Canada. No matter how many "fact sheets" the federal government sends out, or how many letters to the editor our ambassadors and high commissioners write, we can't erase the bloody images beamed around the world. People may know next to nothing about Canada. But they do know we kill defenseless baby animals so that a bunch of rich women can wear seal-fur coats"

news_050409_2_2_Pair_of_Harp_Seals-sm news_050409_2_2_dead_seals_beaters


Margaret also gave a reason for the Canadian government's defense of the slaughter when she wrote:

"But the real reason Ottawa defends the seal hunt isn't economics. It's politics. Newfoundlanders regard the right to hunt seals as a sacrosanct and inviolable part of their traditional identity (even though only three or four thousand of them actually do it). Their politicians invariably vow to defend this right to the death against meddling, ignorant foreigners (including anyone from mainland Canada). Newfoundland has seven seats in Parliament. This is why we'll probably be cursed with the seal hunt forever."

Margaret Wente also commented on the Canadian government's accusation that anti-hunt groups are spreading misleading information:

"The trouble with the animal-welfare propaganda is that most of it is true. The hunters wade into vast seal nurseries on the ice, when the pups are barely weaned from their mothers. Sometimes they use rifles, and sometimes hakapiks, which are spiked clubs used to smash the pups' skulls. Then they skin the animals for their pelts and fat. They leave the carcasses on the ice to rot, because there's very little market for the meat. The ice runs with blood. This year, the quota is 320,000."

The April 6th edition of Newsweek featured a column from Patti Davis.  Following are a couple of excerpts from Patti's article:

news_050409_2_1_Dead seal carcasses"The last days of March meant the last gruesome moments for tens of thousands of baby harp seals. If you traveled to the ice floes of Newfoundland right now, and for the coming weeks, you would be wading through a river of blood. You would see small harp seal cubs, two weeks old, clubbed to death or sometimes not to death. Animal-rights activists who seem to be fighting a losing battle ¬report seeing babies crawling, struggling after being clubbed. One person reported finding a baby, clubbed but not killed, who had managed to crawl away only to die beneath the ice."


"How have we allowed this barbarism to increase? Are we so numb that we don't care anymore about hundreds of thousands of innocent animals who did nothing but be born? If most of us rounded a corner on a highway and saw a slaughter like this, we would call the police, we would scream until our throats gave out, we would probably charge the men with clubs. We wouldn't say, "I'd do something, but there are so many other problems in the world ..." The fact that it's taking place in Canada doesn't remove our responsibility. We made a difference once. Our horror, our outrage registered with the Canadian government. Sadly, and poignantly, the Canadian government has counted on the world doing nothing. And so far they're right."

"Geoff Regan, the fisheries and oceans minister for the Canadian government, has said he is ignoring the seal hunt protests and in fact hopes the hunt will expand. In a London newspaper, he was quoted as accusing animal-rights groups of using the images of the slaughter "to pull at people's heartstrings." Since he apparently has no heart, it makes sense that he would find the images of small white baby seals being clubbed to death perfectly acceptable."