On August 4, I was honoured to receive a humanitarian award from PETA for introducing Bill S-210 to end Canada's commercial seal slaughter. No international markets remain for this trade, but politicians from all parties prop it up each year with millions in wasted tax dollars.
Bill S-210 was tabled on the heels of the news that Russia -- which had been importing 95 per cent of Canadian seal pelts -- had joined the E.U., the U.S., and a host of other countries in banning seal-fur imports.
Senator Mac Harb receiving PETA's Humanitarian award in Sag Harbor
It's time for Canadian politicians to face the fact that the commercial seal-slaughter industry is over. The Conservative government is ignoring Canadian opposition to the massacre, and it has turned a deaf ear to the international boycott of commercial seal-slaughter products. And although the federal government has spent millions in taxpayer dollars to try to create markets in China, these markets have failed to materialize.
Canada stands virtually alone in its defence of this industry. The commercial seal slaughter constitutes only one per cent of the region's annual economy and is completely separate from the traditional subsistence trade in Canada's North. The fishermen who have killed seals in the past as an income supplement should not be patronized or subsidized with government handouts and hollow promises that the industry might come back, some day, maybe. It won't. The Conservative government should tell the sealers the truth -- that the market is dead -- and transition these hardworking Canadians into sustainable economic development programs.
Why does the government continue to prop up this dying industry? Unfortunately, all political parties have allowed politics to interfere with the obvious need to move on and end this massacre. Debating this legislation will send a clear message to Canadians that we are working toward a viable future for the region's workers.
Animal advocacy groups such as PETA have played an important role in moving us into the future. When I introduced my bill, PETA rounded up support from prominent Canadians as diverse as Sarah McLachlan and Pamela Anderson and from international figures, including Pink, Bill Maher, and Ellen DeGeneres, all of whom -- along with their throngs of fans in Canada and around the world -- contacted Canadian senators urging them to support the bill and end the slaughter.
As a result of overwhelming support, my bill was seconded, and the Senate recently unanimously consented to continuing this debate in the coming months. This is historic, and every single person who has taken action has made a difference.
I encourage you to contact members of Canada's Senate and call on them to support my bill to end the nation's commercial seal slaughter. Your efforts are making a difference, and I thank you for your encouragement and support.
Sen. Harb and PETA president Ingrid Newkirk