Government’s WTO challenge of EU ban on seal products will be costly
Ottawa, Ontario, June 8, 2011 – The Conservative government’s decision to waste $10 million on a baseless challenge of the European Union’s right to ban commercial seal products is sabotaging a multi-billion dollar free trade agreement with the EU and abusing taxpayers’ money in the process, said Senator Mac Harb.
A resolution tabled in the European Parliament this week calls on Canada to withdraw its WTO challenge prior to the EU’s ratification of a major bilateral free trade agreement. At the same time, video footage of this year’s hunt released today by the International Fund for Animal Welfare confirms the hunt has failed to meet Canadian and international standards.
“The Conservatives are taking a huge risk by thumbing their noses at the EU’s legitimate ban,” said Senator Harb. “This latest video footage underlines that there is no basis for the Conservative government’s appeal and definitely no reason to endanger our relationship with our second largest trading partner. The commercial hunt is impossible to regulate, it is a dying industry with a bleak, unreliable future, and still the government pours taxpayers’ money down the drain to support it.”
Few sealers participated in the hunt this year, with only 38,000 seals landed despite the government’s quota of 400,000. Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans figures reveal the landed value of the commercial seal hunt for 2011 at less than $750,000. The free trade agreement with the EU could result in an estimated $12 billion in GDP gains for Canada by 2014.
Senator Harb noted the Conservative government has failed to support the sealers in any meaningful way such as setting up transitional or license buy out programs.