Sunday, May 10, 2009

Does humanity have a price tag?

Photo courtesy of Nigel Barker.

I'm starting to get pretty sick and tired of debating the nonsensical economics of the Atlantic Canadian seal slaughter.

Yes, it's true the seal hunters make a miniscule amount of money on the pelts they cut off the baby seals, who are still alive when they do it half the time.

And it's true that the Canadian government spends many millions of your taxpayer dollars to keep this money-losing industry propped up, while the world grows increasingly intolerant of the cruel annual ritual of smashing in 300,000 baby seal heads.

But despite all the economic arguments that spell out how much we spend -- not make -- to hold the title for the largest slaughter of marine mammals on earth, I'm left wondering about something.

Does it even matter whether this sadistic blood sport earns us any money or not?

If Canadians could make $15 a head beating cats and dogs to death with spiked clubs, we wouldn't embrace the activity as a creative way to make money. Just like our family pets, seals are sentient beings capable of feeling pain and anguish. They are animals deserving of our compassion and humanity.

When I was at an information event for saving the seals recently, I asked senior researcher Sheryl Fink of the International Fund for Animal Welfare about the mentality of the fishermen who kill them. Fink has been out on the ice viewing the slaughter every spring for about eight years. By law, observers are allowed to get within 10 meters of the sealers. It's a grisly scene she likened to an "open-air abattoir."

"You can hear the men singing, whistling and joking," Fink said. "Last time I went they were singing Jingle Bell Rock. You can hear the wet thud of the hakapik as it hits the seals' skulls. The smell out there is unique. It's a mix of blood, diesel fuel from the boats, and cigarette smoke."

Fink described the breathtaking sight of the newborn seals moving about the ice as they learn their way in the world, wriggling right up to the human beings who are there to slaughter them.

"They're like puppies sitting there chewing on pieces of snow. I've asked the men -- don't you ever enjoy just watching this? They say no, that all they see lying there is a $20 bill."


Click on these links to get involved.

International Fund for Animal Welfare

You can also send an email of support to Mac Harb, the only Canadian parliamentarian courageous enough to put forward a bill to stop this atrocity that is a global embarassment to our kind and peaceful nation. Mac is taking the letters, emails and petitions -- all 518,000 of them -- to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office by the wheelbarrow load.

Email the Senator at

1 comment:

Corinne said...

Thank you, Carreen, for not stopping. Thank you for continuing to let us know to whom we should voice our feelings about this abysmal cruelty year after year after year. Thank you for being there for the helpless.

You're a beacon of light, baby, a shining star in our world. You are loved!!