Thursday, May 7, 2009

Canadian politicians want their pet blood sport represented at Olympics

Photo courtesy of Nigel Barker

Unwanted pelts are piling up in dumpsters and getting tossed onto burn piles as markets around the world are closing to the trafficking of slaughtered baby seals.

On Tuesday, the European Union's 27 member countries voted to ban the import and sale of seal products. It was a landslide -- 550 were for the ban and 49 went against. There were 41 abstentions. Add these EU countries to a long list of others including Slovenia, Croatia, Mexico and Russia.

But instead of finally hearing the voice of the world -- and its own citizens -- who are speaking out against subsidized cruelty, Canada's Members of Parliament have come up with their own bizarre response to the ban. Just when I thought it couldn't get more ridiculous, MPs from all parties voted unanimously yesterday in favor of a Bloc Quebecois motion to integrate seal pelts into uniforms for the Canadian athletes.

Just picture it: our Olympic athletes out there draped in sealskin, leaping around the parallel bars and rounding the race tracks with fur flying. Not exactly the moment of patriotic pride we should be striving for.

"With the upcoming Winter Olympics that will be in Vancouver in 2010, the government has a chance to offer some concrete action to promote seal products," Bloc Quebecois MP Raynald Blais said.

That will allow them to use up a few of those unwanted pelts while thumbing their noses at the European Union, a block of countries we are currently negotiating with to increase free trade. The trade dealings are potentially worth billions in wealth to Canadians.

All that to save a dying industry that costs taxpayers millions annually.

Still, Canadian Olympic Committee president Mike Chambers said the idea of sealskin uniforms isn't going to take flight. It will hinder the performance of the athletes and politicize the event.

"I'm used to those in the political arena wishing to attach their issues to the Olympic arena," he said. "But this is one...that will not and cannot be allowed to occur. It's our intent for our athletes to remain free of the politics that arises in and around the Olympic Games. The seal issue, while important, is an issue that has become politicized."

Clearly it's political, because it isn't economical.

And at a time of celebration when our athletes are serving as role models for our nation, we shouldn't be branding them with this badge of cruelty.

Even if it is made of sealskin.

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