Image credit: Action for our planet
It is de rigueur for Canadian politicians to eat seal meat, in solidarity with the Inuit hunters who have been doing it for centuries. Here's Prime Minister Harper and much of his cabinet partaking. But centuries ago, the Inuit used to use the seal themselves; then they started exporting it, until the European Union banned the import of seal products and the market disappeared.
So Canada just signed a trade deal with China, to export seal meat and oil to the vast chinese market for weird body parts and animals. The Fisheries Minister exults: "Now that we have access to a new, very large market for edible seal products, hopefully it can become the industry it once was and provide for Canadian coastal families like it did in the past, or even at a greater level than it did in the past."
Others, including many in China, are not so happy.According to the Guardian, over 40 organizations in China have opposed the deal, complaining their country was not a dumping ground, that it was condescending and was undermining their efforts to raise awareness of animal welfare.
Seal products have been rejected by the majority of Canadians and people in Europe and North America. It is insulting for Canada to market these products in China," said professor Lu Di, director of China Small Animal Protection Association. "The perception of Canada's sealing industry that the Chinese eat everything and the Chinese people do not care about animal suffering is indicative of the racist and cultural imperialistic attitude towards non-western societies still held by some Canadians.
The Inuit, on the other hand, love the deal. National Inuit leader Mary Simon said in a press release:
"I commend our federal minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Gail Shea, and her officials, for recognizing the significance in solidifying partnerships and supporters for our seal market by signing a trade agreement with China on the import of Canadian seal products," said Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Mary Simon. "At a time when Inuit have had no option but to sue the European Union over what is an unjust and immoral seal products ban, this is good news all Inuit will certainly share in. We hunt seals year round, and we hope some of the economic benefits can start to be felt immediately....I'm pleased that the Chinese government has seen through the myths and distortions that have been widely disseminated by animal rights extremists in other parts of the world, such as Europe. We want to create a stable and secure future for our seal hunters.""
Seal heart, anyone?
More on sealing in Canada
Canada's Governor General Eats Heart of Slaughtered Seal to Support Annual Hunt
Help Stop the Gruesome Canadian Seal Hunt
Should Native Peoples Be Able To Continue Traditions, No Matter What?
Seal Is On The Menu in Canada's Parliamentary Restaurant
Darn. You Can't Club Seals On Your iPhone