Not only does the seal industry have to deal with enemies in multimillion dollar animal rights lobbyists with celebrety spokesmen, now it also has to deal with a lack of support and discouraging public statements from locals with both connections to the industry and influence.
While on the radio program “The Fisheries Broadcast” aired on CBC radio, a program listened to by those in the fishing and sealing industries all across Atlantic Canada, one of Canada’s newest members of parliament Ryan Cleary made a suggestion that made animal rights fanatics across the world drool. When asked by long time show host John Furlong (Who we will get to in a minute, don’t worry) about developments in the Seal Industry, Mr. Cleary stated that it was time we considered ending the hunt. Cleary who served as a journalist for The Independent newspaper for years was formerly known for his support and knowledge of the fishery. Immediately, press releases from anti-sealing animal rights groups stuck the internet praising Mr. Cleary stating that his outlook is the future for Canada. After cashing in on his past and being entrusted with the approval of sealers and fisherman alike, Cleary all but sealed their fate and that of their industries by publicly undermining its value.
It will be the lips of politicians like these that will see the death of rural Newfoundland & Labrador. However, who can be surprised given Mr. Cleary’s new political masters? Despite being thought of as the champion of the fisherman, Mr. Cleary’s elected riding is St. John’s South – Mount Pearl; an urban riding built on the wealth of the oil, retail and tertiary industries. His responsibilities lie with his urban constituents, who given global media such as television and internet probably have more in common with people living in Toronto, New York and Hollywood than their outport neighbours. Lets also not forget that on the other end of Cleary’s leash is the federal NDP. A party which is provincially a labour party and stands as a pillar for those in the working class, but federally is breeding ground for socialists and hippies who probably consume more soy lattes and tofu than anything from the sea. It’s politicians like these who have let the industry slipped from the million dollar industry it once was, to the shadow of its former self it now is by letting animal rights groups, misinformation, and international trade restrictions carry on without a fight.
Cleary later said his comments were taken out of place, and that he merely meant there should be a public debate about the direction of the industry. He also wore a sealskin vest in public to show his alleged support. For the industry, however, the damage is done. To quote a famous American political phrase “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig”. Animal rights groups have gained momentum and motivation from his words, and those in positions of power may make moves like his hoping to gain support. Commentators on articles on the CBC, Telegram and VOCM website however claim that Mr. Cleary’s political career is done, as he has lost the support of sealers, fishermen, and Newfoundlanders. We here at Animal Wrongs aren’t so sure given his particular riding and its lack of involvement in the industry. We do however love one comment on the telegram article about Cleary’s sealskin vest. “I hope that vest can float Mr. Cleary, because your career is sinking”.
The other individual who we’d like to address is the radio host who interviewed Cleary, Mr. John furlong. Furlong has been the host of CBC’s ‘Fisheries Broadcast’ for years, and is welcomed into the homes of fisherman across Atlantic Canada every evening for news, information, and commentary from call in guests. Despite being supposed to take a non-biased angle to issues in order to bring honest information to listeners , Mr. Furlong over the last year or so has began a downward spiral of pessimism. With every broadcast and story, Furlong sways the conversation to anything that would suggest doom, gloom and a coming apocalypse for the fishing industry. One disappointed listener and former fan of Furlong’s told us that Furlong’s attitude and pessimism basically suggests that everyone in the industry hang up their gear, give it up and go home.
On the subject of the seal industry, during an interview with MP Ryan Cleary (above) Furlong stuck to questions asking about opposition and moves to end the industry, and asked leading questions practically forcing Mr. Cleary’s opinion about possibly ending the hunt out of the man’s mouth. When word had reached Furlong that somebody in the provincial government had suggested the idea that the government stockpile seal pelts for better years as an investment and to offset lack of demand from the global market and keep prices viable, Furlong reported it on his show as if it we’re a solid plan; a conspiracy formed between sealers and government to funnel taxpayer dollars. When reading comments on the web article that soon hit the internet live on his show, Furlong decided to read four or five that we’re strongly opposed, outraged, and misinformed wile only reading one in support. The icing on this cake of betrayal is the crime against sealers and the sealers association which formerly had looked upon Furlong as a friend. When looking for information on the before-mentioned pelt stockpiling idea, Furlong decided to try and contact leaders of the sealers association while they were in the air and en-route to a trade show in Ottawa and unable to comment at the time. When unable to reach these individuals Furlong described his attempt on his show as if they we’re running and hiding, or conspirators keeping their lips sealed. Furlong then decided the most informed person on the subject would by Sheryl Fink, spokesman and leader for the International Fund for Animal Welfare and most vocal anti-sealing group advocate and leader in the world, who has campaigned against the hunt and spread misinformation since she was old enough to hold a sign.
They say that in the media and news industry that bad news sells. Is this what it is John? A ploy for ratings, popularity and fame? Do you wish to be seen in the future as the prophet that foresaw the end of an industry you formerly supported so well and now abandoned? I guess we should look to actual fishermen and sealer’s for advice on this one; any one of them will tell you that rats jump ship at the first sign of trouble.
As you may or may not know, Russia banned the import of seal products this year despite carrying on a hunt of their own. President Vladmir Putin decided suddenly out of nowhere, without debate in government and without speaking to any member of his government for that matter that dealt with trade and negotiations in the industry. In the ex-Soviet country where power still lies in the hands of a few, and impulse decisions can be made by slipping a few million dollars of into someone’s pocket behind closed doors it isn’t hard to imagine that animal rights groups with millions in non-taxible, charity raised donations could have orchestrated this move. It appears the two boys who formerly stood behind sealers and fisherman locally have also sold their souls. Lets just hope Mr. Cleary and Mr. Furlong got something out of this other than their 15 minutes in the spotlight, we wouldn’t want to know that treason and betrayal of an entire industry and people would be committed for anything less.