The Seal Hunt in Canada

Michaelle Jean, Canada's Governor General

"Phoque in Canada"

The seal hunt in Canada! That phrase alone is enough to send PETA members into a frenzy and plunge the United States, Europe and Canada into a heated debate. And now the name Michäelle Jean has been added to the list of people to despise by animal right activists the world over.

Jean, Canada’s Governor General, on a trip to Nunavut, honored the Inuit by cutting out a piece of seal heart and eating it during a traditional Inuit feast. Likening the taste to sushi, she elicited comments of outrage and disgust from many animal activists.

Barbra Slee, Anti-Seal Hunt campaigner with the Animal Welfare in Brussels, called her act ‘disgusting’, while Dan Mathews, Senior Vice-President of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals went as far as to say that Jean had given Canada an even more Neanderthal image around the world than it already has. And some, like Barbra Heiffreich, the EU Environment Commissioner, had no comment at all, as she found the act ‘too bizarre to acknowledge’.

But why is Jean really being attacked? As far as most Canadians can see, Jean was acting in support of a people who depend on sealing for survival. Of course, the seal-hunt has angered Canadians in years past, especially when we were seeing graphic pictures of adorable white seal pups being clubbed to death. As much as Dan Mathews would like to portray Canadians as Neanderthals, barbarians we are not, and watching seals be beaten to death is something that was hard for us to watch too.

But for the most part the Inuit have been exempt from criticism because sealing is their livelihood, and has been for generations.

So again, I ask, what did Canada’s Governor General do that was so despicable? She tasted seal heart. What is wrong with that?

Is it wrong because the seal is so cute and cuddly? Is it the method by which these mammals are slaughtered?

Is it worse to club a seal than it is to smash a cow between the eyes with a sledgehammer? Is it worse to kill a seal than it is to let a bear stay stuck in a trap for days on end before the hunter finds it and kills it?

Is eating a seal heart more disgusting than eating foie gras, or sushi or even plain old liver?

The negotiations between the Canadian Government and the EU that were underway during the time when Jean indulged her ‘bloodlust’ (as per Dan Mathews) were important to the protection of seals against cruelty and overkill. That much is acknowledged by both sides of the debate.

But Jean was not in the Canadian East where much of the controversy has originated. She was up North celebrating an age-old tradition and a traditional people who genuinely live off the products that seals afford them.

When asked if her action of eating seal heart was a message to the European Union for banning seal products, Jean stated : ‘take from that what you will.’ Of course, the media ran with that, making sure that her subtle statement spoke volumes in favor of the seal hunt.

In reality, Canada’s Governor General was acting true to Canadian character and to her own character, which may be somewhat boring to a media who is intent on getting a sensational story.

Her statement offered nothing more sensational than letting the media know; ‘I don’t have time for this…you will write what you want anyway no matter what I say, so go ahead.’

Michäelle Jean is the Governor General of Canada, and a woman that Canadians can be proud of. She is elegant but strong and carries herself with a humble dignity. She is not afraid to be herself and everytime she is shown on television, her strength of character is unmistakable.

She didn’t bow to media pressure and wasn’t afraid to say what she felt like saying. To Canadians, that alone is like a breath of fresh air.

Where it seems that the whole world is intent on being politically correct and never saying anything that may be construed in an unfavorable way by the press, Canada’s Governor General basically shrugged her shoulders at the watchdog, and to my knowledge, has not looked back since.

The seal hunt will continue to be controversial. That is a fact. But if it isn’t the seal hunt, thats making news, it will be something else. There seems to be no way to win, no matter what we do.

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Comments 3 comments

Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 6 years ago from Canada

I was living in Newfoundland in the 1970's when Green Peace and Brigitte Bardot made an international scene over the Canadian seal harvest. The outcome, after the defenceless Newfoundland hunters had been branded as savages, is that the seal population exploded and is claimed to be one of the factors in the demise of the east coast cod fishery. I don't have the heart for hunting myself but I do feel for the people whose lives are impacted by the actions of protesters who take no responsibity for the consequences their actions bring down on ordinary people. Michaelle Jean is a noble figure in the history of this still-unfolding saga. I'm surprised you didn't get more feedback on this one. It's a well written piece.

megs78 profile image

megs78 6 years ago from quebec Author

Hey Niteriter,

Thanks for the feedback. I totally agree with your comment. I don't think people see all sides of this issue which frustrates me to no end. Nice to hear from you, thanks

PS, did you get my play on words with "Phoque in Canada"? Let me know..

Pierre Savoie profile image

Pierre Savoie 5 years ago from Canada

The biggest enemy of the Siberian-descended nomads of Canada (I hesitate at adopting loaded terms like "First Nations" or "native persons") is not high-placed racists in the Canadian government nor paternalistic government departments, but liberals themselves. By creating such an artificial outcry against furs, they make the fur-trade difficult for those at the bottom, and then they turn around hypocritically when they see the poorly-heated shacks the native persons live in in Canada, the poverty, and say the government should "do something". Maybe the liberals should butt out of free trade and centuries-old forms of livelihood, and let people live, rather than projecting a deadly job-killing personal attitude that doesn't hold water.

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