From: Anthony Marr, founder, Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
To: The Right Honorable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, [email protected]
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
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.
Anthony Marr, founder
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Return to Terminate the Canadian Seal Massacre