March 16, 2006
When Canadians Go Clubbing

Rachel Marsden

For Canada to register a blip on the American media radar nowadays, it usually takes something really outlandish. So when CNN’s Larry King devotes an entire show to chatting with ex-Beatle Paul McCartney and his wife about Canada, as he did recently, you know there has to be some major moronic activity registering north of the border.

Indeed, there is. In the next few days, some Canadians will cover their eyes while others, like myself, cringe in embarrassment as east coast Newfoundlanders kick off their annual clubbing season. Not because they have the rhythm of a first round reject from American Idol, but because some Newfies’ idea of getting jiggy with it consists of hitting the ice floes and driving giant spikes through the skulls of fuzzy little newborn seals.

Is there no McDonald’s or Taco Bell in Newfoundland? Is food so scarce in during the wintertime that these folks have to chow down on seal meat? Hardly. The seal hunt exists for a single reason: So Gucci, Versace, Prada, Marni, and Petit Nord can deck out their runway models in seal fur or skin, and impress the last remaining twenty or so mouth-breathing morons with more money than brains who haven’t heard of faux-fur.

You won’t hear much criticism of the seal hunt in the Canadian media—if only because no one wants to be accused of picking on a group of people about whom there are already enough jokes to fill five HBO Dennis Miller pay-per-view specials.

If Newfoundlanders want to curtail the Newfie jokes, may I suggest refraining from whacking defenseless critters over the head just because someone pays you to do it? A lot of things pay well—sliding naked up and down a brass pole in front of a beer-chugging audience, for example—but, come on, whatever happened to moral standards and a sense of decency?

Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams argued on the King show that the seal population is booming and there aren’t enough fish for both Newf and seal. Does this guy even realize what the heck he’s saying? Biology 101: If there were no fish, the seals would be dying, not thriving. Nature had no problem balancing itself out long before God created Newfies.

But for the sake of argument—given that this was a major point of debate between Williams and the McCartneys during the King show--let’s say the seals really were handing you your butt on a platter during fishing season. How about showing a tad more gamesmanship? Why not rip a page out of the Survivor playbook and try to "outwit, outplay, and outlast" the seals, rather than, say, showing up at the first tribal council, bashing in the skulls of all your competitors, and then sitting back and cracking open a Budweiser. If you’re trying to dispel the stereotype of the "lazy Newfoundlander", this isn’t helping your cause.

Between 300,000 and 400,000 seals are brutally and senselessly slaughtered every year because my country—the same one that so righteously views itself as a global defender of justice and humanity--can’t bring itself to keep whack-happy Newfs off the ice floes. Others like Italy, the USA, Greenland and Mexico have already banned seal products, yet Canada continues to demonstrate its inhumanity with one of the few issues over which it has absolute control.

Our government also doesn’t have a problem with free assembly—as long as the gathering doesn’t happen to occur between a seal hunter and his target. Eleven members of the Sea Shepherd Society were recently sentenced to 22 days in jail as a result of hanging out too close to the slaughter.

While the previous Liberal government may have allowed the hunt for east coast vote buying reasons, the new Conservative regime under Prime Minister Stephen Harper has missed a prime opportunity to act on all that "respect for life" talk. I didn’t think that Harper would be quite so quick to cop-out and hide behind Williams’ hip waders—sending a provincial representative to speak on behalf of the Prime Minister, on an internationally televised program, about an issue that reflects so poorly on all Canadians.

And Harper isn’t the only self-described right-winger to play the hypocrite on this issue. It amazes me how so many of my fellow conservatives who, last year, advocated rewriting the law to keep a brain-dead Terri Schiavo alive, and who demand respect for unborn fetuses, also happen to be in favour of this useless killing spree.

This is one of the few issues where I consistently see right-wingers acting like liberals. Either you’re a conservative who respects life, or you aren’t. Smarten up.

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Rachel Marsden is a political columnist and the Canadian Correspondent for "The O’Reilly Factor" on Fox News and a political columnist with the Toronto Sun. rachel@rachelmarsden.com