April 12, 2011
HSI Canada Exposes Seal Hunt Cruelty During Canada-EU Trade Talks
Members of EU Parliament express disappointment with Canadian government
OTTAWA—Marking the opening day of Canada’s commercial seal hunt off Newfoundland, Humane Society International/Canada broadcast images of the slaughter on a giant video screen outside the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement negotiations in Ottawa on Monday and continued on Tuesday. In February 2011, the Canadian government launched a formal dispute at the World Trade Organization in response to the European Union ban on seal product trade—a move that could threaten ratification of the CETA in the European Parliament.
“The overwhelming majority of Canadians and Europeans oppose Canada’s commercial seal slaughter, and support the European Union ban on seal product trade,” said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada. “The Canadian government’s WTO challenge against the EU ban flies in the face of Canadian and European values and threatens a trade deal that stands to benefit Canada’s economy by an estimated $12 billion annually.” Members of the European Parliament confirm that Canada’s WTO challenge is making them think twice about ratifying the free trade deal.
“As long as Canada continues trying to force its barbaric seal fur trade on Europe, I won’t support a new EU-Canada trade deal,” said Keith Taylor, UK Member of the European Parliament.
“How can the European Parliament ratify a Free Trade Agreement with Canada, if Canada doesn’t respect European animal welfare laws?” said Kartika Liotard, Dutch Member of the European Parliament.
Canadian legal experts have estimated the cost of the WTO challenge to be about $10 million—more than seven times the landed value of the seal hunt last year. National polling in 2007 and 2008 confirms the overwhelming majority of Canadians supported the right of the EU to ban seal product trade.
The HSI video displayed at the CETA talks contained the following quotes from Members of the European Parliament:
“As one of the 550 Members of the European Parliament who voted in favour of an EU ban on seal product trade, I am deeply disappointed by the Canadian government's WTO challenge. I hope Canada will reconsider this action, especially in light of the ongoing Canada-EU free trade negotiations.” - David Martin, Scottish Member of the European Parliament
“The European public achieved the EU law putting an end to the cruel commercial seal trade in Europe. Canada should respect the EU's decision and not jeopardise its relations with Europe, including the negotiation of a free trade agreement worth billions.” - Arlene McCarthy, British Member of the European Parliament
"The overwhelming majority of Canadians supported the right of the EU to ban its trade in seal products. Forcing Canadians to foot the $10 million bill for a WTO challenge against the ban doesn't sound like democracy to me." - Heide Rühle, German Member of the European Parliament
"In voting for a strong EU ban on seal product trade, I represented the views of the overwhelming majority of Europeans--and Canadians—who oppose this brutal slaughter. In challenging the ban at WTO, the Canadian government is acting in direct opposition to Canadian and European values." - Christel Schaldemose, Danish Member of the European Parliament
"I consider Canada's challenge to the EU ban on seal product trade at the WTO an outrage. The decision to install an EU ban was supported by an overwhelming majority in the European Parliament and is backed by millions of European citizens. This move thus evidences a complete lack of respect for European values and democratic processes." - Frieda Brepoels, Belgian Member of the European Parliament
"Canada and the European Union share a positive trade relationship by respecting each other's democratic processes. Canada's WTO challenge against the EU ban on seal product trade demonstrates a profound lack of respect for EU law." - Stephen Hughes, British Member of the European Parliament
"In the EU, we have chosen to ban commercial seal products. This is an ethical choice. Canada has no right to challenge this." - Dan Jørgensen, Danish Member of the European Parliament
“I support your struggle against the cruel commercial seal hunt with all my heart. Mahatma Gandhi said that the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated, and I say that the state of our civilization can be judged on how the animals are treated. Seeing the cruelty and suffering caused to seals that are slaughtered in masses just to use their fur for vain reasons such as fashion, is distressingly representative of the prevalent values of materialism and commercialism in our Western culture.” - Eva-Britt Svensson, Swedish Member of the European Parliament
Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International—one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than 11 million members and constituents globally—on the Web at hsicanada.ca.