VANCOUVER, TORONTO, SEPTEMBER 16/06 – Earlier this month, 425 Members of the European Parliament signed Written Declaration 38 which called for a ban on the import, export and sale of harp and hooded seal products in the European Union, a move supported by The Humane Society of Canada (HSC). “Having worked in the past at the European Parliament with MEPs, the European Commission, we have high regard for their professional approach in dealing with issues like the longstanding cruelty associated with Canada’s annual seal hunt and we will lend the full weight of our support to this ban,” according to Al Hickey, Western Regional Director for the animal charity.
If passed, the European Union would join Belgium, Mexico and the United States, along with 26 other nations which have already banned the import of seal products from Canada; earlier this year Italy introduced a temporary ban on seal products. Other nations, such as the United Kingdom and the Netherlands are considering similar bans.
“Last year, The Humane Society of Canada urged both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Premier Danny Williams of Newfoundland & Labrador to implement a program to buy back licences to end the seal hunt and promote ecotourism and other alternative sources of income. To underscore our commitment in this regard, we are the only animal protection organization in the world that sent the Prime Minister a cheque in the amount of $10,000 to be used for the creation of a federal fund for this purpose,” says HSC Chairman & CEO, Michael O’Sullivan. A copy of the letter written to Prime Minister Harper can be found here.
In order for this program to succeed, The Humane Society of Canada proposed the creation of an intergovernmental taskforce to create the framework and mechanisms to establish and manage a federal fund to buyback sealing licences and launch new initiatives to promote ecotourism and the animal protection organization offered to lend its expertise to such a process. The animal charity also promised to match dollar for dollar the amount of money pledged by the federal government to buy back licences from sealers and to stimulate ecotourism. “No more boycotts, no more harm to the Canadian economy, no more global protests. It’s a good deal for the people of Canada and it’s a good deal for animals,” says O’Sullivan, who for the last 35 years has worked across Canada and in over 95 countries around the world on issues affecting people, animals and the environment.
The Humane Society of Canada’s proposal is built on the Canadian model which provides subsidies to industries in transition, crop shortfalls, and to those who find themselves out of work and subject to other economic disparities. For example, during 2005-2006 alone, the people of Newfoundland & Labrador will receive more than $1.5 billion in tax dollars from the rest of Canada to help them.
“However, our efforts for a “made in Canada” solution have fallen on deaf ears. Despite repeated telephone calls to his office where their staff acknowledged receipt of our information and offer, Premier Williams of Newfoundland & Labrador never responded. Only after the slaughter of nearly 335,000 seals, did Prime Minister Stephen Harper return our cheque for $10,000 with a note saying that his office could not accept financial contributions,” explains O’Sullivan. A copy of Prime Minister Harper’s response can be found here.
That’s why The Humane Society of Canada wrote a letter found here to the President of the European Parliament offering their full and unqualified support for the passage of such a ban on the import of seal products from Canada. The group is urging other Canadians to write similar letters and the contact information can be found here.
According to The Humane Society of Canada, the government’s own studies show that 9 out of 10 Canadians already support the protection of wildlife and less than 5% of Canadians engage in the hunting of any wildlife at all. The group is asking Canadians to contact Prime Minister Harper and Premier Williams here urging them to support this ‘made in Canada’ solution to end the global protests and boycotts which continue to harm animals and threaten Canada’s reputation and economy.
“Boycotts of fish products, tourism and even the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver are going to cost Canadians hundreds of millions of dollars. Every time a seal pup is killed, the shockwaves are felt across the country. The seal hunt is a bad deal for the people of Canada and it’s a bad deal for animals,” says O’Sullivan. “A single telephone call from Premier Danny Williams to Prime Minister Steven Harper could change all of that.”
“We need new solutions to an old problem and we share the views of Premier Williams and Prime Minister Harper that people living in Newfoundland & Labrador need more jobs and more hope. In our view, forcing them to “make do” by engaging in the brutal killing of seal pups provides neither,” says O’Sullivan. “For the sake of Canadians and animals, we are willing to work with all interested parties to bring an end to the violence and killing; and we hope they are willing to become a part of this “made in Canada” solution."
CONTACT: Michael O'Sullivan by toll free 1-800-641-KIND or Michael on his cell phone (416) 876-9685 or at www.humanesociety.com via twitter at www.twitter.com/HSCanada and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Humane-Society-of-Canada/211468055538280
[For more than 17 years, Al Hickey was the Chief Executive of the BC SPCA and before that headed up the Alberta and BC Chambers of Commerce, and was the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vancouver. He has been The HSC Western Regional Director for over 12 years. He has 4 children and 6 grandchildren. For his lifetime of achievement dedicated to helping people, animals and the environment, we have bestowed upon him our prestigious Heroes for Animals Award, shared by only a handful of people and organizations.
A father with two children, and a houseful of dogs and cats, Michael O'Sullivan has worked across Canada and in over 110 countries during the last 40 years helping people, animals and nature.]
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