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Bill Maher’s Seal of Disapproval

Written by PETA | June 30, 2010

The following is a Canada Day guest post from Bill Maher, the genius behind Politically Incorrect and HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher. Maher offered his wit for an op-ed, originally posted in today’s Daily News, in a humorous protest against a deadly serious issue: Canada’s annual slaughter of tens of thousands of seals—the largest massacre of marine mammals in the world.

Here’s some good news from my friends at PETA, just in time for Canada Day on July 1: Canada’s annual commercial seal slaughter is over—at least for this year—and more than 80 percent of the seals who had been marked for death were spared because hardly anyone wants to wear baby-seal fur anymore. But Canada won’t cancel the massacre outright. Why?

There are a lot of things to admire about our neighbor to the north, but the country’s strange seal phobia is not one of them. Canada is terrified of seals. Baby seals, in particular. I know, it doesn’t make any sense to me either.

Canada’s seal “hunt”—which happens every November to June off Canada’s East Coast—is the largest slaughter of marine mammals on the planet, leaving tens of thousands of animals dead every year. And let’s be clear: The Canadian government may call it a “hunt,” but impaling baby seals in the jaw with hooks, dragging them across the ice, and throwing them into a pile where they choke on their own blood before being skinned isn’t a sport—it’s a massacre. The video of it is like a starter snuff film designed for serial killers.

Opposition around the world is growing. Last year, the U.S. Senate—a group of people who usually can’t agree that the sky is blue—unanimously passed a resolution calling for an immediate end to the annual slaughter. But the Canadian government just keeps putting its fingers in its ears and singing “la, la, la” so that it won’t hear anything it doesn’t like. Or, if it does hear, it responds with all the subtlety and sophistication of a fistfight in the men’s room at a monster-truck rally.

The European Union, for example, recently passed a ban on seal products. So after stomping its feet and jutting out its lower lips for a while, Canada threatened to go tell mom that it’s being picked on. Sorry, did I say “mom”? I meant the World Trade Organization. And as if that weren’t tone-deaf enough, in response to the EU’s ban, Canada’s parliament also pushed—unsuccessfully—to incorporate seal skins into the uniforms of the Canadian Olympic team in a desperate attempt to legitimize the seal slaughter.

When Russia announced a ban on the killing of baby harp seals in that country, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called the seal slaughter a “bloody industry that should have been banned long ago.” Shortly thereafter, Canada’s Governor General Michaëlle Jean cut open a seal and chowed down on the animal’s raw heart, burbling inanely, “It’s like sushi.” I’m not making that up.

Note to Canada: When your officials are making Vladimir Putin look like the voice of reason and the U.S. Senate appears to be a model of civility, you’re doing something wrong.

Let’s clear up a couple of myths perpetrated by the Canadian government in defense of the “hunt.” The sealing industry is not a subsistence trade for native peoples. The Inuit—most of whom live in the Arctic, far away from the main seal-killing regions of Newfoundland and Labrador—are responsible for only about 3 percent of the annual seal kill.

Nor is the slaughter important to the Canadian economy. In Newfoundland, where the majority of sealers live, revenues from sealing account for just about 1 percent of the province’s economy. But even if it were more, that’s still no excuse for clubbing babies.

You’d think that officials would have gotten the message that it’s time to stop the slaughter when many sealers sat out this year’s massacre in the face of plunging demand and record-low ice levels. Incredibly, Fisheries Minister Gail Shea instead increased the killing quotas.

In fact, Canada is spending millions of dollars—and despite what you may have heard, Canadian dollars are real money—on desperate efforts to prop up the dying commercial seal slaughter, including rushing Shea to China to try to peddle seal pelts there and posting a $75,000 contract for a “Social Media Reputation and Online Issues Management” advisor to track seal chatter on the Web.

Not long ago, Canada launched a “Keep Exploring” ad campaign to attract tourists. Vacationers may find it hard to have a really good time with all that shooting and beating going on in the background.

Reacting to the tourism campaign, PETA is pushing back with its own campaign, called, “Explore Elsewhere,” encouraging people to leave Canada out of their travel plans until the seal massacre is stopped for good. I’ve never really been one to call for boycotting an entire country, but in the face of such heartless ineptitude, maybe it’s worth considering.

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  • Cammy White says:

    As a Canadian, I am truly disgusted by the seal hunt. I don’t personally know ANY Canadian who is for it. This “tradition” is supported by a tiny percentage of Canadians and does not represent the viewpoint of the entire country. But, to put into perspective, gross injustices are done in factory farms around the world at any given time. I wish for all the support in the world to stop the seal hunt, but let’s not turn countries against one another in the process.

  • 4mula1 says:

    i got an idea bernie ecclestone the ceo of f1 f1.com his daughter tamaraspoke out about fur for peta. ect! it was on this blog months ago its possible she can get her dad to get the f1 race of canada OFF the schedule. forever! this could work!.. also there is many countrys russia korea ect trying to get on a schedule that is at its limit allready.. lets ask peta if they will put up her email. OR! send our letter for us. ps the indy500 lost its f1 race over 10 years ago. lets make this 1 NEXT!!.. this time for good reason!..

  • maureen says:

    Go figure!!!! Canada would go to China to peddle the pelts there China of all places.”The cruelest place on earth”.Like they need new ideas on animal cruelty. It shows people all over the world that the U.S. is not the only country that is all about the ALMIGHTY dollar.Instead of making real issues of homelessness and poverty a platform our countries in this world would rather sell me this garbage on economy and the killing of animals and or research is vital. “As we destroy nature we destroy ourselves”

  • RabidLeroy says:

    I guess boycotting Canada outright might as well send them the message that seal slaughters don’t attract anymore. There should be an advert campaign for this “DON’T BUY INTO CRUELTY WHEN TRAVELLING “Cancel all tickets to Canada immediately “Write to all airlines about your reasons for your refusal “Tell all your friends to do the same.” Perhaps an antitourism to expose all ugly sides of Canada not just the seal slaughter but what about the drug trade? Homes of scarily known criminals? Anything that would turn wouldbetourists off Canada’s shores would be a bullet wound to Canada but a metal shield to the unfortunately doomes seals. God bless the seals!

  • Norm Hoffmann says:

    I have to echo comments that have already been repeated here many times. I’m Canadian. I’m embarrassed and ashamed of the seal hunt and of our politicians who all seem to be of the same strip on this issue. I encourage other countries to boycott us until there is movement.

  • John Roig says:

    I love to see a name like Bill Maher on this site amongst others. Most of us here have the passion and compassion to leave posts objecting to the vile side of human activity but the reality is that name recognition matters. Mr. Maher built his through his diligence and perseverance and has not lost his conscience in the process seen that too often haven’t we… Kudos to you sir and please continue to lend your voice to the causes of reason animal welfare and to life in general.

  • Tracy says:

    if tourism has to stop in Canada until this slaughter ends completely then so be it I am totally in favor of that. Thank you to countries who recognize the insanity of the seal hunt support an ending to it. More countries need to boycott this supposed great country of ours. Must be quite the pay off that someone in gov’t is getting. It’s despicable!

  • ditto says:

    Bill Maher is the man of my dreams. Truthfully. He is good lookingan animal lover funny and doesn’t believe in “god”. What else can you want? Love you Bill and never miss your show!!!

  • denise wilson says:

    REAL TALK. I wish we would hear much more from Bill on animal rights issues and would love to see even one show on Real Time devoted to such. Be sure to get Wayne Pacelle if it ever happens. Very wellwritten piece. I was going to go to Canada next month on a family trip for some of that cool Canadian air but will stay South of the Seal Slaughtering border instead.

  • Rev. Meg Schramm says:

    Here’s my version of a Canadian Tourism commercial A tourist is shown riding a zip line only at the end of that line is a sealer standing next to a pile of bloody sealskins and bodies. As the horrified tourist disengages himself from the line the sealer grins and says “Exploring the Real Canada are ya?”

  • Toby Saunders says:

    In the sense that the offensive war tactics of the US are largely influenced by its mixed European heritage Canada’s current stance on seal murder is influenced particularly by its French heritage… it isn’t the heritage so much as it is the culture really. French culture has an immoral reputation for selfish indulgence at the expense of those of other species and it sort of ‘rubs off’ in Canada. It’s great that universal healthcare ‘rubbed off’ too though. ‘By the same token’ we see more approval of staged bull torture murder in Mexico which was ‘founded’ by the country in which bullfighting really developed via Roman influence Spain according to Wikipedia.

  • Shawna says:

    My first political action when I was in grade 6 was to raise money to stop the seal hunt. Sadly 30 years later it is still going on. Most Canadians do NOT support this inhumane brutal and disgusting hunt. Most of us are heartbroken over it but the goverment is terrified of the accusation that they are not “sensitive” to poor people to native rights or to anything that smacks of “dishonoring” the “culture” they continue to defend. Please feel free to boycott us and speak out rest of the world. We hate this too!!!!

  • CANDICE JOHNSON says:

    GOD LOVES BILL AND SO DO ITHE MAN ROCKS!!!!!!!!

  • Sharon Fentiman says:

    Great article Bill. Also good to see the comments by Canadians who vehemently oppose the slaughter of baby seals. Count me in whenever you guys up north decide to really do something about it like hold huge demonstrations against your government’s actions. you’ve got tons of support worldwide. In the meantime I too will boycott travel to Canada until the killing stops.

  • Lynn Di Mauro says:

    Thank you Bill Maher for always telling it like it is. And I am in complete agreement that if tourism was boycotted in Canada until the slaughtering of Baby Seals came to a complete and permanent halt then maybe the Canadian government may actually end this barbaric act even it it were for their own greed.

  • LW says:

    Somehow lately I feel embarrassed to wear the Maple leaf! Get with it Canada!

  • Jane Kenyon Bell says:

    I love Bill Maher even more after this. The outrage of the seal hunt makes me so ashamed to be Canadian and the fact that our Government completely ignores the majority of it’s citizens wishes’ when refusing to put to an end to it makes me even more ashamed and don’t get me started on the Governor General at least she is gone soon

  • Moisés Sil says:

    Great article. I’m going to translate it to Spanish and post it in my facebook wall I live in Mexico so more people can read it. Of course I’m going to give credit to the original publication PETA and Bill Maher. Starting last year Mexicans have to get a visa to travel to Canada. I hope information like this will further dissuade some of my fellow Mexicans from visiting that country until the seal massacre ends.

  • Tucker says:

    THIS HAS GOT TO STOP PERMENATLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE WILL KEEP FIGHTING IT UNTIL IT DOES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FOR NOW I AM SOOO HAPPY THE SEALS THERE ARE SAFE BUT WE NEED TO KEEP GOING UNTIL THIS IS STOPPED FOR GOOOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CANANDA IS NO FRIEND OF MINE UNTIL THIS IS “SEAL”ED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IT’S TO BAD CAUSE I LIKE CANANDA BUT WON’T GO BACK TIL THIS IS OVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • lorenz says:

    fu canada

  • GO says:

    Great article. You can always count on Bill Maher to tell you the truth as it is. I too am Canadian and can attest to the fact that most Canadians are very much against the seal slaughter and would like to see it abolished. Unfortunately our reality in Canada is that our government could care less about what the people want. Let alone what is best for the seals.

  • Erin Spicer says:

    Honestly it’s just the dumbass politicians and actual seal killers supporting this. I am Canadian and have lived here my whole life and Canadian’s don’t support the annual seal slaughter… trust me.