Tell Canada to Speak the Truth About the Seal Hunt

Over 300,000 baby seals will be clubbed or shot to death mercilessly during Canada's seal hunt this year; many will be skinned alive.

Canadian government officials insist that the seal hunt is a vital part of Canada's economy, yet in reality, the hunt accounts for less than one percent of Newfoundland’s GDP and an average of just $1,000 per sealer per year. Significant amounts of money are actually spent by Canada's government to promote the hunt and to develop new markets for seal products abroad.

When Danny Williams, Premier of Labrador and Newfoundland, was asked about the seal hunt during a recent episode of "Larry King Live" on CNN, he chose to make false statements about the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), claiming to speak on behalf of Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

WHAT HE SAID: "IFAW representatives, veterinarians and other experts have said the seal hunt is humane." FACT: There isn’t a single reputable "expert" or "veterinary group" that has observed the seal hunt and called it humane.

WHAT HE SAID: "Veterinarians hired by the World Wildlife Fund said the seal hunt is conducted in a humane way." FACT: The report produced by these same veterinarians puts forward no fewer than eleven recommendations to make the seal hunt humane.

The public deserves a commitment to honesty and respect for the real facts about how baby seals are being killed during this hunt. Join IFAW and activists from around the world in urging Canada’s Prime Minister to tell the truth about what’s happening on the ice. Sign the petition now!

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

Important issues surrounding Canada’s annual commercial seal hunt merit your urgent attention. They also deserve a commitment to honesty and respect for the facts not in evidence during the appearance of Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland & Labrador, on Larry King Live, Friday evening, March 3rd 2006. I urge you to do the right thing and correct several of the many inaccurate assertions Premier Williams, who claimed to be speaking on your behalf, made during that broadcast.

I must particularly take issue with the statements of Premier Williams concerning IFAW -- the International Fund for Animal Welfare ( Williams several times alleged IFAW representatives, veterinarians and other experts have said the seal hunt is humane. This is both false and ridiculous. Despite tireless efforts by your government and the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, there is not a single reputable "expert" or "veterinary group" that has observed the hunt and called it humane. Almost four decades of observing and documenting the commercial seal hunt have led IFAW experts to conclude it is an inherently cruel and abhorrent slaughter, one that gravely compromises not only the welfare of seals but also the safety and well being of the hunters.

Finally, it was suggested on this internationally broadcast CNN program that IFAW as an organization appears on FBI terrorist watch lists. Like most of the statements from Premier Williams that evening, this is utterly at odds with the facts. IFAW, and specifically IFAW’s efforts to end Canada’s seal hunt, are supported across the political spectrum in the United States. IFAW last year leveraged some $1.2 million dollars, including $600,000 in U.S. government funding, to assist New England fishermen with their animal welfare practices and provide them with state of the art fishing gear – I don’t think the US government funds organizations linked to terrorism.

The seal hunt issue is one that is extremely important to me. Continuing to ignore the inexcusable cruelty and waste inherent in this annual "hunt" by distributing misinformation is simply wrong. The people of Canada and Newfoundland deserve better.

I urge you to uphold your public responsibility and commitment to the truth by making an official apology to IFAW and telling the public the true facts about Canada’s commercial seal hunt and the decade’s worth of research which has consistently found it to be inhumane.

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