Heal Our Planet Earth
HOPE
Terminate the Canadian Seal Massacre

Terminate the Canadian Seal Massacre

Letter to the Canadian prime minister

From: Anthony Marr, founder, Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)

To: The Right Honorable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, pm@pm.gc.ca

Date: February 28, 2006.

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

First of all, congratulations for your victory over Ex-Prime-Minister Paul Martin, with whom and whose ministers we have had fruitless and even counter-productive communications until their well deserved defeat. This letter is written with the hope that your the new government will show more economic and ecological acumen, as well as compassion for the innocent, maligned, brutalized and massacred, in regards to the infamous Canadian seal hunt.

Allow me to briefly introduce myself: My name is Anthony Marr. I am a naturalized Chinese Canadian who has lived in Canada since 1965, when I was 21, and in Vancouver, British Columbia, since 1966. I became a Canadian because, after five years at two Canadian universities in two Canadian cities, of two Canadian provinces, I had grown to love Canada - its beauty, its wilderness, its biodiversity, its people, and many of its accomplishments, both at home and aboard, as well as the global leadership it has taken on so many fronts. The day I received my Canadian citizenship was one of the proudest days of my life. I still love Canada as I did that day, in certain respects even deeper, although in the mean time, I received a few very rude awakenings, which happened all to fall under the category of animal welfare, and in places deeper into animal rights.

My first rude awakening came one day in 1995, when I entered a Chinese apothecary in Vancouver’s Chinatown, and found, on open display for sale, medicinal products containing endangered species components, including tiger bone, tiger penis, rhino horn and bear gall bladder. By then, three of the original tiger subspecies had fallen extinct, and the other five tiger subspecies, along with all rhinoceros species, and six of the eight bear species, had been classified as endangered, just one notch above extinction. International law forbade the trade of all endangered species, in whole or part, dead or alive, and there they were - tiger bone, bear gall and rhino horn medicines galore, in all the 37 apothecaries that I eventually investigated under my own steam as a concerned Canadian citizen. I discovered then that although Canada abided by international law and banned the importation of these products, there was no law to ban their sale. In other words, Canada was saying to the rest of the world, “We do not allow you to import endangered species products into our country, but if you are smart enough to smuggle them in, we’ll let you sell them openly.” It was then that I decided to wage a campaign to cleanup the Chinatowns of Canada, and subsequently the Chinatowns of the United States.

The question was - How? I had basically two options. One was to go directly to the Chinese community to try to convince the merchants to voluntarily discontinue the practice, or to go to the Canadian government to lobby for a new law to ban the sale of these products, so that the merchants had no choice but to discontinue the practice. As it turned out, they were both dead-ends. This forced me to create a third option, which was to bring media into Chinatown to document my open purchase of dozens of different brands of these products, in newspapers and on TV. It almost instantly became a hot news topic throughout Canada, and even in the United States, which raised loud and vehement outcries from the general public. The media blitz was performed about a dozen times in the Chinatowns of Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto and Ottawa in late 1995, and in April 1996, a new law, known as WAPPRITTA, was put into effect by the federal government, which banned the sale of these products.

During the height of the campaign, the hitherto unresponsive Chinese community came to a boil, denouncing me as a “traitor”. During a Chinese radio talk show, a caller asked me why I was trying so hard to ruin the Chinese reputation. My answer was that I was doing it for the Chinese reputation, because, if things proceeded unimpeded, the tiger and rhino and bear species would inevitably be driven to extinction, and the Chinese reputation would be forever mud. I am happy to report that the Chinatowns have upgraded themselves on to a new endangered-species-free equilibrium, and I have since been reaccepted into the Chinese community.

This campaign taught me several things, one being that sometimes, the best place to solve a problem of one community is outside of it.

In May 2005, after receiving zero meaningful response from the Martin government, I undertook a 3-month road tour throughout the United States (my third since 2003). My car was decorated with photographic posters of burley Canadian men bashing helpless seal pups with clubs, On my car windows were heavy white lettering spelling “I AM CANADIAN. BOYCOTT MY COUNTRY!” Of course I was again called a “traitor” by some. This was with reference to the Boycott-Canadian-Seafood campaign led by the Humane Society of the United States.

I derived little pleasure from driving city to city, state to state, urging Americans to boycott my country. But after I had begun to lose count of the number of honks from passing cars and thumb-up signs from passersby, I began to drive on with true Canadian pride. I even proceeded to lead intercity Funeral Motorcades for the Seals, one, for example, from Houston to Dallas, which are about 350 km apart. 350 km is about the distance from Vancouver to Kelowna (the riding of the Hon. Stockwell Day, who seemed a compassionate soul), and almost the distance from Toronto to Montreal. 350 km because that would be the length of a single file of the 350,000 dead seals massacred in Canada last year, and the year before that. American media loved it, and the Canadian Seal Hunt became the talk of the Texans.

And I intend to make it the talk of the world. In expectation of yet another seal hunt this year, I am now organizing another “BOYCOTT CANADA” continental tour, and I am willing to do so year after year, until this barbarous hunt is history. In the mean time, I will walk and drive amongst Americans, in half pride, half shame. And the only way that this shame can be eradicated is when my country terminates this unspeakable practice once and for all.

Another thing that Ex-PM Martin fell short in was his being duped by his own Department of Fisheries and Oceans, into condoning the seal hunt based on a scientific fallacy. Basically, the DFO presented Mr. Martin with an ecological model that is false - by scapegoat the seals for the decline of the cod fishery which was damaged, in fact, by DFO’s own mismanagement, which caused over fishing, which led to the fishery collapse, plus its pushing the seal hunt, thus decimating the predator of the predators of cod. Their oversimplified model - fit for a moron, not for a prime minister - is that seals eat cod, and therefore, fewer seals = more cod. It treats the North Atlantic Ocean as if it were inhabited by only two species - seal and cod, when in fact there are at least 20 major species of fish, most predatory upon cod and predated upon by the seals. The true equation is - more seals = fewer cod-predators = more cod. A parallel situation occurred on the west coast. From 1939 through 1969, there was indeed a seal hunt - a commercial hunt and bounty hunt combined. Same moronic formula - “more seals fewer salmon, fewer seals more salmon”. The hunt was a disaster. By the 1960s, when the seal population had been decimated, the salmon runs collapsed - in river after river throughout the BC coast. In 1970, finally, the hunt was banned. By the 1990s, the seal population had recovered, and likewise the salmon runs.

The Martin government was at least in this case one of ignorance and/or deceit, in which truth was sacrificed for votes and profit. Speaking of votes, he had lots of East Coast support, but see what good it did for him. I hope that your new government will be more honest, enlightened, inspired, and courageous. I would much rather work with the government than against it, with respect than in disdain, any time.

As we speak, numerous major seafood chains in the United States have signed on to the boycott. Whereas the seal hunt brings in some $12 million a year into the Canadian economy, the economic boycott against the Canadian seafood and other industries promise to be more than ten-fold this amount in negative impact. There are already reported losses in excess of $100 million from the Canadian seafood industry. One might argue about the exact cause of the loss, but there is no arguing about the official policy of the United States, which is that importation of Canadian seal products is blanket-banned. Are we Canadian less civilized than the Americans? Further, not only is the boycott spreading sociologically, it is spreading geographically, in Europe, including Britain and Italy.

Are Canadians proud of a country known for being number one in the pillaging of nature, in conducting the largest marine mammal slaughter in the world bar none, of all time, by far? Speaking as a Canadian myself, I am not. And I intend to change it. And I do not believe that I am alone.

The banning of the seal hunt will be a major quantum leap in Canadian culture. Its downfall is inevitable. It’s just a matter of time. The name of the party with the courage to seize the moment and decisively terminate this medieval tradition will long be remembered and honored by our future generations. There will only the two alternative outcomes - the heroic, where the government acts with respect for life and dignity in action, or the cowardly, when the government is forced by the sheer economic weight of the boycott to capitulate.

Dear Prime Minister Harper, I wish you a wise administration and decisive action, and a place of dignity in future Canadian history.

Sincerely,

Anthony Marr, founder

Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
 

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