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November 2, 2011

Canadian and European Parliamentarians Join HSI Canada in Calling for Withdrawal of Reckless WTO Challenge Against EU Seal Product Trade Ban

Humane Society International/Canada

  • HSI's Rebecca Aldworth, with supportive Parliamentarians, addresses the crowd. Dean Pogas/HSI

OTTAWA — Humane Society International/Canada, joined by the Honourable Mac Harb, Senator; Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament; and the Honourable David Martin, Member of the European Parliament; called upon the Canadian government to withdraw its World Trade Organisation challenge against the EU ban on seal product trade. The Parliamentarians urged the Canadian government to support Atlantic Canadian sealers and their families by implementing a federal buyout of the commercial sealing industry.

“As long as the Canadian government continues with its groundless WTO challenge against the EU prohibition on seal product trade, many members of the European Parliament are loath to ratify a free-trade agreement with Canada,” said David Martin, Member of the European Parliament and member of the Committee on International Trade of the European Parliament. “Not only does Canada’s challenge at the WTO jeopardise a multibillion dollar trade deal with Europe, but it is a complete attack on European values and democratic processes.”

“Canadians are increasingly frustrated at the refusal of the Harper government to respect the right of the EU to domestically ban its trade in products of commercial seal hunts,” said Senator Harb. “Canada’s cruel commercial seal slaughter produces little economic benefit, and now threatens relations with Canada’s second largest trading partner.”

“It is time for the Canadian government to stop throwing away millions of taxpayer dollars at the commercial seal hunt,” said Elizabeth May, Member of Parliament and leader of the Green Party of Canada. “Instead of propping up this dying industry with massive government subsidies, the Canadian government, for much less money, could buy out sealing licenses and develop sustainable economic alternatives for communities, such as seal watching.”

“With this WTO challenge, the Canadian government is putting the sealing industry above all others who may benefit from CETA,” said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada. “The Canadian government must stop playing regional politics with the lives of baby seals, and listen to the overwhelming majority of Canadians that support the right of the EU to ban seal product trade.”


  • Though polling shows 86 percent of Canadians supported the right of the EU to prohibit seal product trade, the Canadian government challenged the ban at the WTO in November 2009, and requested a dispute panel in February 2011 after consultations failed to resolve the matter.
  • In June 2011, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution threatening to block ratification of CETA if Canada fails to withdraw its WTO challenge. More than 100 MEPs have signed an open letter to the Canadian government saying the EU Parliament should not ratify CETA until Canada drops its challenge.
  • Canadian legal experts have estimated the cost of the WTO challenge to be about $10 million – more than thirteen times the landed value of the seal slaughter this year.


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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.

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