of Canada Misinformation
A Point-By-Point Rebuttal of the Organization’s ‘Fur Is Green’ Website
By Barry Kent MacKay, Senior Program Associate
It is important to illustrate the way in which the Fur Council of Canada (FCC)
misrepresents both the results of its own industry on the environment, and the
endeavors of organizations and individuals whose dedication to animal
protection, conservation and the environment may bring them into conflict with
the fur industry.
The reason it is important is because the FCC is often cited by elected
politicians too lazy or uninterested to do their homework and inform themselves
on the issues. However, the FCC is not a government agency, but rather is a
private organization in no way accountable to the voting public of Canada. Its
“policies” are not laws and have no legal standing, and yet are often cited in
defense of the industry.
The FCC also is too often referenced as a source of information by journalists
who, perhaps naively, assume that it is an accurate source of facts. As we point
out in considerable detail below, the FCC and other fur industry apologists
often dissemble the facts, or simply misrepresent them.
FCC is, first and foremost, a propagandist — an advocate. The best propaganda is
predicated on facts, but facts do not always serve objectives of advocacy and so
must be tweaked, misrepresented or ignored.
Make no mistake: Those of us who actively work in the fields of animal
protection, conservation and the environment are also advocates. And to the
degree that it is antithetical to our own goals of animal protection,
conservation and environmentalism, we are adversarial to the fur industry, thus
What is a “third party” to think when two groups with different agendas make
contrary claims? The answer is that one must judge arguments on merit, and that
can be a very difficult thing to do. We all have inherent biases and we all have
certain beliefs that may or may not be valid. We cannot be expected to have the
expertise required to know who is right on all matters, and it takes time and
effort to investigate claims.
Meanwhile, put very simply, the goals of people seeking to prevent cruelty to
animals, seeking to conserve endangered species and to protect the environment
are widely shared among the general public, including potential customers for
fur products. It is FCC’s job to see that customers and others are convinced
that their compassionate goals are not compromised by the fur industry’s
The FCC understands this. It serves a commercial end — to sell furs, yes, but it
often seeks to do so by establishing common ground with those interests or
values that are most common among potential buyers. One such value is glamor.
Glamor is subjective. Whether one values it or not, or whether one thinks fur
garments (traditionally associated with wealth and privilege) are glamorous, is
not de facto of concern to any particular part of the animal protection,
conservation or environmental movements.1
However, the fur industry also has determined that people are most likely to
reject buying furs (or anything else, but particularly luxury items) when they
associate them with things they don’t like, and that would include, for a large
percentage of the potential market, abuse of animals, destruction of rare or
endangered species, or damage to the environment.
The first concern, animal welfare, is something almost everyone claims to
support. That includes people involved in the most egregious forms of animal
abuse. Few are the hunters, trappers, circus animal trainers, animal
researchers, farmers — or even people engaged in cock-fighting, dog-fighting or
supporting bull-fighting — who don’t claim to care for and respect animals, and
do not admit to cruelty.
While gamely making the argument that fur production is not cruel, the FCC in
particular has mounted a major effort to convince the public that fur production
is “green.” This process, also used by other industries selling things produced
at a cost to the environment, is called “greenwashing”. We have all seen the
various fossil fuel commercials filled with shimmering images of wetlands and
wildlife and green forests, all seeming to imply that the industry is at the
head of a major effort to protect our environment. That’s greenwashing. The FCC
is fully committed to greenwashing.
On its website, the FCC states the following:
“The Fur Council of Canada is a national, non-profit federation representing
people working in every sector of the Canadian fur trade. This includes fur
producers, auction houses, processors, designers, craftspeople and retail
furriers. Incorporated in 1964, Fur Council programs include:
“Encouraging linkages between designers and other sectors of the fashion
“Sponsorship of competitions for both professional designers and students in
Canadian fashion colleges.
“Promotion of the work of innovative Canadian fur designers through FCC
advertising in top national and international fashion publications.
“Providing accurate information about the Canadian fur trade to consumers,
educators and the public. The North American Fur & Fashion Exposition in
Montreal (NAFFEM) is the largest fur and outerwear fashion fair of its type in
North America, and one of the most important fur fashion marketing events in the
In an apparent effort to provide “accurate information about the Canadian fur
trade to consumers, educators and the public” the FCC set up a
“Fur is Green” webpage
at “for an informed opinion” that provides answers to six questions about the
Here we will examine each question in considerable detail in response to what
the FCC provides. Our hope is in doing so we can illustrate how greenwashing
works. Of course we also hope to show the targeted “consumers, educators and the
public,” to which we would add politicians and media, that the FCC seeks to take
advantage of the fact that most people know little enough about animal welfare,
zoology, ecology, wildlife conservation or the mechanics of fur production. We
want to show that, contrary to the FCC’s assertion that fur is “green,” fur
products are not a “natural and ecological product” and are not “green.”
Of course tropical wood, Northern Cod, whales, methane gas, oil, ivory, sea
turtles, coral and fresh water are also natural “resources” and most are
renewable, but that does not mean that their extraction and use is without
ecological or environmental consequences for those who “care about nature.” 2
Anyone can dismiss what we are about to say as our own propaganda, to be given
no greater weight than what the FCC has said. But we would hope that already the
discerning reader will have noticed one difference between what we are saying
here, and what the FCC is saying on its “Fur is Green” website.
That difference is this: Throughout this document that you are reading you will
see links to the FCC, or direct and complete quotations of what that
organization says. You will find little or no such information from the FCC with
regard to the arguments made against the fur industry. It makes allegations, but
does not provide the references that would allow readers to look at the original
texts, beyond snippets in the absence of context. The last thing the FCC seems
to want is for the reader to read the contrary argument and make up her or his
own mind — to see what is being said.
We have no such objection. The primary concern that most people have about the
fur industry is animal abuse (remembering that not everyone cares if animals are
abused) and we think that the FCC understands that if people do go to websites
opposed to the fur industry, they will learn just how much abuse of animals is
involved in fur production.
The FCC must know that it cannot convince those people who do care about animal
abuse that the fur industry is humane, thus the effort to convince people that
the fur industry is green, greener than any alternative to the product it
To present both the FCC’s side of the debate and our own, as opposed to just
giving you our view, makes this document quite long, but we think it is
important that the FCC be quoted in full in order to allow you to best judge how
correct it is at what it claims to do: provide accurate information on the fur
Also, as much as we can we will provide independent sources of peer-reviewed,
scientific or other references to back up our contentions. This is not a
scientific paper and it is impossible to follow all linkages provided by the
Internet to discuss each detail — but we will do our best to provide an ability
for readers who wish to do so to assess the accuracy of what we say and do their
own further research.
'What do you mean by saying fur is green?'
'How can the use of animal (sic) to make a luxury product ever be ethical?'
'How can I be sure the Canadian fur industry practices humane standards?'
'Are those videos going around for real?'
'Are coats in Canada made from dog and cat fur?'
'Who are the animal activist groups and what do they really want?' and the