Canada Parliament eats seal to defy "ignorant" EU

OTTAWA Wed Mar 10, 2010 2:46pm EST

1 of 6. Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff gives a thumbs up while eating a seal meat appetizer during an event to mark the first time seal meat is served in the parliamentary restaurant on Parliament Hill in Ottawa March 10, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Chris Wattie

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian parliamentarians tucked into a meal of seal meat on Wednesday to defy both animal right activists and the European Union, which has banned imports of seal products.

Some two dozen guests, surrounded on all sides by media, crammed into a small room off the main parliamentary restaurant to hear speeches backing the annual hunt off Canada's East Coast, which the EU says is inhumane.

"This support begins on the plates of Canadians," said federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea as she prepared to eat three small medallions of double-smoked bacon-wrapped seal loin in a port reduction.

The EU imposed its ban last year after a decades-long fight by what Shea called "misguided and mean-spirited" anti-seal-hunt activists. The seals are either shot or hit over the head with a spiked club called a hakapik, which critics say is cruel.

All of Canada's major political parties say they are in favor of the hunt, which takes place on ice floes in March and April.

"The Europeans simply don't know what they're talking about. Since time began human beings have lived with animals and they have culled animals," said Michael Ignatieff, leader of the main opposition Liberal Party.

He spoke at an earlier reception where waiters passed through the room carrying platters of seal terrine snacks. Ignatieff ate several for the benefit of photographers.

"It tastes delicious, actually. It's a meaty taste, a little gamy," he declared.

The meal was arranged by Liberal Senator Celine Hervieux-Payette, who said the hunt provided income for fishing communities in the Atlantic.

"We're sending a message to the European parliamentarians ... we want to say something so that opponents do not take to the floor with lies," she told reporters.

The EU ban has slashed demand for seal furs, meat and oil. Poor weather conditions and a lack of ice mean this year's hunt could be scrapped.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway)

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Comments (7)
jcd8822 wrote:
Whew, I am glad I am not a member of Parliament.

Mar 10, 2010 9:56pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Sheesmakees wrote:
I believe in treating all animals humanely whether a pet, livestock, or wildlife. I am against the use of the club called a hakapik. Shooting an animal with an appropriate firearm is far better than the inhumane living conditions of our livestock and domestic fowl.

Mar 11, 2010 9:30am EST  --  Report as abuse
Pollvaulter wrote:
Richard Nixon once toured a new sewage recycling plant where the raw solid waste was converted into edible cookies at the end of the process and the managers served him a plateful of the stuff for a photo-op proclaiming he would find it surprisingly tasty…whereupon he told them “I’ll take your word for it…” and gave them the famous Tricky Dicky non-shit-eating grin as he left for a more appealing power lunch…Bon Appetit, mes Parlementaires!

Mar 11, 2010 11:44am EST  --  Report as abuse
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