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July 11, 2011

HSI Europe Reveals Seal Slaughter Cruelty During Eighth Round of Canada-EU Trade Talks in Brussels

Humane Society International/Europe

  • Seals endure unimaginable cruelty during Canada's commercial seal hunt. Mark Glover/The HSUS

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — Humane Society International/Europe and  GAIA broadcast images of the seal slaughter and quotes from Members of the European Parliament on a giant video screen outside the European Parliament. This event marked the start of the critical eighth round of the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement negotiations in Brussels, and coincided with a meeting of the Delegation for Relations with Canada being held inside the Parliament building.

“On behalf of the overwhelming majority of EU citizens who support the EU ban on trade in commercial seal products, we are protesting the fact that Canada has initiated a baseless challenge to this legislation at the WTO, while simultaneously seeking to broker a highly profitable trade deal with the EU,” said Joanna Swabe Ph.D., HSI EU director.

“As long as Canada continues its challenge of the EU seal product trade ban, I will certainly think twice about ratifying the CETA agreement,” said British Socialist MEP Mary Honeyball and EP/Canada delegation member. “It doesn't seem appropriate to provide a multi-million boost to Canada's economy while the nation expresses such profound disrespect for European values and our democratic processes.”

On 8 June 2011, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on EU-Canada trade relations, which threatened to block the ratification of CETA if the Canadian government does not withdraw its challenge to the EU ban on seal products at the World Trade Organisation. In February 2011, the Canadian government launched a formal dispute at the World Trade Organisation in response to the European Union ban on seal product trade – a move that could threaten ratification of the CETA agreement in 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 slaughter 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 outside the European Parliament contained the following quotes from MEPs:

"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

"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," - 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?" - Kartika Liotard, Dutch 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

Click here to see the seal slaughter video demonstration.

Humane Society International is the international arm of The Humane Society of the United States, one of the world's largest animal protection organizations—backed by 11 million people. HSI is creating a better future for animals and people through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide—On the Web at hsi.org.

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