IFAW President challenges Premier Williams to a televised debate on Canadian seal hunt

Thursday, March 16, 2006
Yarmouth Port, MA
Today, IFAW President Fred O’Regan challenged Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, to a televised debate on the Canadian seal hunt. In an official letter O’Regan wrote, “Let us give the people of Canada what they deserve: a full and factual public debate on the commercial seal hunt which has done so much damage to Canada’s image at home and abroad.” The full text of that letter is below.
Dear Premier Williams,

Thank you for your reply to my letter of March 7th, which sought to correct various inaccurate comments you made regarding the International Fund for Animal Welfare during your appearance on Larry King Live on CNN March 3rd. I welcome your willingness to engage in dialogue on the important issue of Canada’s commercial seal hunt and I share your concern about the many inaccuracies currently in the public domain.

Additional distortions. Unfortunately, the many inaccurate statements you repeat in your letter only add to this problem. Two particular statements demand retraction and you have addressed neither:

Your continuing insistence that veterinarians funded by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) have said the hunt is humane and well managed is simply untrue. Neither has so stated. In fact, following your assertions on CNN, you received a letter from the authors of the veterinary working group report expressing their concern about such claims.

IFAW has today posted that letter, a link to the full veterinary working group report, and complete, unedited copies of your and my correspondence on our website at www.ifaw.org. I hope you will demonstrate a similar commitment to transparency and make the same documents available on the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador website.

The second allegation that demands retraction is your attempt to link IFAW to FBI terrorist investigations. The full written transcript and video record of your CNN appearance are clear. This was said by you in front of millions of people, and it should be retracted.

Canada deserves the truth. But rather than continuing this debate in writing, let us give the people of Canada what they deserve: a full and factual public debate on the commercial seal hunt which has done so much damage to Canada’s image at home and abroad. You have represented yourself as Prime Minster Harper’s spokesperson on this issue. You have said you believe Canada’s seal hunt — the largest commercial slaughter of marine mammals in the world — is well run, and not cruel. And you have continued to make inaccurate statements about IFAW in the media, refusing to offer an apology.

Ready to debate the facts? I hope you will live up to your strong rhetoric and agree to debate the merits of Canada’s commercial seal hunt with me on national television. As the seal hunt is ultimately a Federal issue, the debate should take place in Ottawa. I would be pleased to meet you there for a nationally broadcast debate at your earliest convenience.

I look forward to hearing from you and to debating these issues face to face.

Sincerely,

Fred O’Regan
President, International Fund for Animal Welfare

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