The 2011 Canadian Election and the Future for Seals: Reasons for Hope

The Canadian federal election was held last night and the political landscape this morning is like no other ever witnessed in this country. Canada now has a Conservative majority government with an National Democratic Party (NDP) minority.

Although Canada’s Conservative party generally brings to mind policies and positions that are unfriendly to animals, there is some good to be found in the election outcome.
And while Fisheries Minister Gail Shea held on to her seat in Atlantic Canada (possibly thanks to her 'publicity garnering announcements' on the seal hunt?), some of the strongest pro-seal hunt politicians were dumped out of office.

So Long, Seal-Haters.

Former Fisheries Ambassador Loyola Sullivan (the man who led the delegations in support of the seal hunt to the EU and elsewhere, wasting millions in Canadians’ taxes) did not win in the Newfoundland riding of St. John's South Mt. Pearl, Newfoundland. During the election, Sullivan launched a vicious and public attack against Liberal MP Dr Hedy Fry condemning her support for ending the commercial seal slaughter. But guess who won their seat? Congratulations Dr Hedy Fry!

Seal meat gourmand and Liberal party leader Michael Ignatieff also lost his riding and has resigned.

The seal-clubbing happy Bloc Quebecois held on to a mere 4 seats in Quebec and leader Gilles Duceppe lost his seat and has also resigned. Seal supporters may remember the ridiculous and rejected Bloc Quebecois idea that the Olympics be used to promote the Canadian seal slaughter, and perhaps recall the equally silly Bloc-supported event in Ottawa last year that served seal meat and showcased a film that criticized groups like the International Fund for Animal Welfare who dare to speak against the hunt.

Welcome, Seal Defenders!

While we are still going through the list of newly elected Members of Parliament, it appears as though compassionate Canadians can now count on at least 15 MPs –NDP, Liberal, and Green - who have indicated their opposition to the commercial seal hunt.

Of course, the most prominent of these is Green Party leader Elizabeth May. The Green Party has been courageous and vocal about their opposition to the cruel and unnecessary slaughter of seal pups and IFAW congratulates Elizabeth May on the historic achievement of being elected the first Green Party politician in Canada – indeed, in North America!

Hope for the Future?

Having the Greens with a seat in the House of Commons will hopefully provide a strong voice for seals. But for those of us who tend to fear a Conservative majority might take heart in remembering that – current government aside - historically, the Conservative party has not been entirely bad for Canada’s seal populations.

For example:
It was under a Conservative majority in 1961 that closing dates were implemented to limit the length of the sealing season and help conserve harp seal populations. This was done in response to scientists’ concerns that the population had been halved been 1950 and 1960.

Under a Conservative majority in 1987, the prohibition on the commercial hunting of whitecoat seal pups was implemented and the use of collector vessels over 65 feet was stopped. (The Liberals had refused the recommendations of the earlier Special Advisory Committee on Seals and Sealing in 1972). In 1988, the Conservatives upheld the position that there was no scientific basis to kill grey seals to protect fish stocks and continued to ban the hunting of this species for three more years.

And according to those who have been working on this campaign for longer than I have, Conservative majority governments are more willing to meet with groups like IFAW when in power.

There is also hope in the NDP, which currently does not have an official policy on the commercial seal hunt. However, in their replies to IFAW supporters a number of NDP candidates noted the party’s progressive stance on animal welfare issues, concern about the impacts of climate change on seals, and committed to holding stakeholder discussions on the commercial seal hunt. We remain optimistic that when presented with the facts on this issue: that not only is it cruel and inhumane, but does not even provide a decent living or economic opportunity for fishermen, that they too will realize that the best solution for both animals and people is to phase out this industry and support transitions to alternatives. In fact, among all Canadian political parties the NDP has the largest number of MPs who are on record opposing Canada’s commercial seal hunt.

IFAW will continue to work with Canadian politicians from all parties to encourage them to bring an end to the seal slaughter and we encourage our supporters to do the same. We need to remind our politicians that this is an issue Canadians care about every day, not just during spring elections or during the commercial seal hunt. Please visit ifaw.org/seals for tips on how to raise the seal hunt issue with your new Member of Parliament.

-- SF

For more information about the International Fund for Animal Welfare effort to end the Canadian commercial seal hunt, visit http://www.ifaw.org/seals

Comments: 13

 
Anonymous
2 years ago

[...] The 2011 Canadian Election and the Future for Seals: Reasons for …Description : We remain optimistic that when presented with the facts on this issue: that not only is it cruel and inhumane, but does not even provide a decent living or economic opportunity for fishermen, that they too will realize that the best … Sheryl Fink is the Director of IFAW’s Seals Program. She has been working with IFAW’s seal campaign since 1998 and has witnessed and documented Canada’s commercial seal hunt first-hand for 9 years, each year that this seal hunt will be the …http://blog.ifaw.org/2011/05/0 .. [...]

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

When I wrote to my MP who is Conservative, he replied that the "conservative party is in favor of the seal hunt". I do fear that the new majority party will override any negotiations to end the seal hunt and it seems as though they will band together to keep it going. Oh what a sad world we have devised. :(

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

I am ashamed to be a Canadian when I think about the seal hunt, and I always have been. Unfortunately, some pro-seal-hunt candidates may have lost their ridings, but ours, Conservative Dr. James Lunney, is an avid supporter of the hunt. In fact, he behaves as if he "loves" the hunt. He doesn't answer questions from constituents and I've started calling him The Invisible Man. In all the years I have lived in this riding, I have seen him once - at a dinner and dance at the Chamber of Commerce. Yet he was voted back in with a big lead. I believe that a lot of people just don't think, when it comes to how they vote. No, sorry, lots of work to go yet.....

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

Until the fur wearing folks stop wearing dead animals instead of synthetics then it will not stop sadly We need to make a move to the fashion industry and blame them for this as well As if there was no demand then there would be no killing

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

Sincerely hope that the seal cull will be banned well before next spring and so finally putting an end to this cruel slaughter.

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

Thanks for the update on the individual Members of Parliament.

That aside there is a serious error in your article. You are confusing the original Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and the Conservative Party of Canada (founded in 2003 from an alliance between the old PC Party and the Canadian Alliance Pary). The new Conservative party is dominated by old Alliance and Reform Party members and I don't see them doing anything to stop the commercial seal hunt especially now that they have a majority. Please correct your article: there was no Conservative Party in Canada in 1961, 1987 or 1988. That was the Progressive Conservative Party. Historically (since 2003), the Conservative Party has not been a friend of the seals. If you insist on lumping the PC in with the CPC then you should use the general term conservative (with a small "c").

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

I pray to the Almighty that he brings the end of all Animal suffering really soon!

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

I have been helping campaign against this needless slaughter since I was 10 years old. I have just passed 50, I cannot believe that this cruel practice still continues today. I too would like to know who the 15 MPs are so I can show them my support and thank them for their work.

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

I too would like to know the names of the 15 MPs who are against the horrific baby seal slaughter!!! Someone please email me at jane60_45@yahoo.com Thankyou!!!

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

Hi, where can we find the names of the 15 MPs against the seal hunt. I wish to congratulate them.

Thanks

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