Canadian Courts Rule that Profits Take Precedence Over the Rights of Citizens

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society lost our court challenge today against the Orwellian Canadian laws that disallow the witnessing or documentation of the killing of seals without a permit from the government.

Prince Edward Island attorney John Mitchell argued on behalf of Sea Shepherd that the rules were a violation of the Charter of Rights.

Prince Edward Island Judge Nancy Orr agreed that the freedom of expression of citizens were infringed upon. However, she said the sealers have right to earn a living without disruption.

In other words, the basic freedoms "guaranteed" by the Canadian Charter of Rights are secondary to the "rights" to profit from the killing of wild animals.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have decided that the "rights" of the sealers to make a profit also takes precedence over the rights of citizens to expect protection from the police from physical assault by other citizens.

Earlier this year, Sea Shepherd crew were violently assaulted on the ice floes by sealers. The crew were kicked, punched, and struck with sealing clubs. Cameras were broken and the crew were threatened.


Left: Sealing captain (Genge) swings his hakapik at SSCS crewmember Ian Robichaud (kneeling, taking picture)

Above: Genge throws an elbow into the face of a Sea Shepherd volunteer.

Yet the Mounties decided that the presence of the Sea Shepherd crew on the ice provoked the assault and thus the violence on the part of the sealers was justified. They refused to press charges despite the fact that the entire assault was documented on three video cameras and none of the Sea Shepherd crew made any effort to defend themselves.

Over the year, the laws in Canada have been applied with prejudice towards any group seeking to defend the cruel and senseless slaughter of seal pups each spring on the ice off Eastern Canada.

In response to the court decision, Captain Paul Watson said, "I am not surprised we lost the court case but we had to make the attempt. We defend life in a culture that profits from death. The Judge agreed that our freedoms were infringed upon and she then ruled that the rights of the killers to make profits takes precedence over our rights to protect life or even to observe the taking of life."

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society views that as just another battle in a series of battles in the courts and on the ice. We have lost and we will continue to lose these battles, but ultimately we will win this war to stop the slaughter of seals. We will win it in the same way that the government and the courts defend it - through economics.

Sea Shepherd efforts are now focused on promoting the Boycott of Canadian Seafood. We have already seen the losses to Canada in this industry exceed their profits during the last year.

There is nothing the Canadian government or the Canadian courts can do to stop our passionate opposition to this annual obscenity every spring on the ice floes off Eastern Canada.

This decision does mean that twelve crewmembers from the Sea Shepherd flagship Farley Mowat will go to trial this month on charges of "approaching within a half a nautical mile of a seal being killed without permission of the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans."

"It makes little difference if we win or lose with this case either," said Captain Watson. "There is no court and there is no government in the world that can convince us that what we are doing is wrong. A court can rule or a government can legislate that defending life and the environment is a crime but there is nothing they can do to destroy our resolve to defend life and to defend the environment. And this law - a law that actually makes it a crime to witness a crime - this is the pinnacle of government arrogance in Canada and it is an affront to the basic freedoms of all Canadians."

Carcasses of dead seals - left to rot on the ice. Evidence of the carnage that
the Canadian government is trying to keep hidden.