07/17/2012 02:30 EDT | Updated 07/17/2012 03:59 EDT

Bob Rae: Bill Maher Should Stop Singling Out Seal Hunt


Liberal interim leader Bob Rae is telling HBO's Bill Maher that Canada's seal hunt is being singled out unfairly and celebrities should find more worthy causes to fight for.

Maher wrote to Rae earlier this month telling him he was disappointed the Liberal Party isn't supporting Senator Mac Harb's effort to end the "commercial baby seal slaughter." Maher said he expected such behaviour from Conservatives, "but the liberals? (sic) I had hoped for more."

In a letter, dated July 11, Rae doesn't take up the "baby seal" comment but tells Maher the traditional seal hunt is a culturally important industry to thousands of Canadians. The population is abundant, he writes, with the harp seal herd estimated to be in excess of nine million animals.

Rae respectfully tells Maher he and his famous friends should find another pet project.

"I have always found it interesting that other forms of hunting, and the slaughter of many animals for human consumption around the world, have not aroused the attention of well known celebrities," Rae writes. "Without challenging for a minute the good intentions of anyone, it is hard not to feel that that this particular hunt is being singled out unfairly."

According to PETA, a large group of celebrities support Harb's bill. They include: Ellen DeGeneres, Pink, Pamela Anderson, Olivia Munn, Tommy Lee, Dave Navarro, Alicia Silverstone and Megan Park.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government says 70,000 harp seals were killed during this year's commercial seal hunt — nearly twice the number killed last year.

But markets for the pelts are drying up.

In December of last year, the federal government confirmed the world’s largest buyer of Canadian seal products — the Russian Federation — had banned the import of harp seal pelts.

The European Union banned seal imports in 2010, and the federal government has so far failed to deliver on a promise to open the Chinese market to Canadian seal meat.

With files from The Canadian Press

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