Thursday, December 29, 2005

Green Seal of Dissaproval

This is my personal response to the Jim Harris' stance on the commercial Seal Hunt.

The Green party of Canada is founded apon six fundamental principles; Ecological Wisdom, Social Justice, Non Violence, Sustainability, Respect for Diversity and Participatory Democracy. All of these values are extreamly important however, the one I believe is essential to the growth of Government is the latter of the 6. The Green Party strives for a democracy in which all citizens have the right to express their views, and are able to directly participate in the environmental, economic, social and political decisions which affect their lives. One of the ways they've already started to impliment this is by way of the Living Platform; an online discussion of all the Green party's values whereby anyone of any age, gender, race or political affiliation can have their say on how they think a Green Party government should be ran. Their wish is to open up debate to more people than ever ensuring that everyone has their say on thier future.

This brings me to my point. Recently, Jim Harris (Leader of the Green Party) visited Newfoundland and Labrador and expressed his views on the annual Seal Hunt. Many were angered when Mr. Harris said that "It's time to end federal support for the seal hunt and instead use federal programs to develop sustainable jobs that will bring Newfoundland and Labrador international praise". I was one of those many.

As a supporter of the Green Party I can understand Mr. Harris's view however, the leader truly doesn't understand how important this industry is to Newfoundland and Labrador. It seems only those who are native to the province can understand the importance and it's truly sad that so many "upalongs", "mainlanders", non-Newfoundland a Labradorians are mislead about the seal hunt. It's not an industry of brutallity and 'baby seal whacking' (on a side not, I agree with Cathy Jones, Bill Lankhof IS an asshole) that everybody believes it is. It's astonishing that so many people assume that baby white coat seals are clobbered just because organizations like Green Peace use it as thier poster child when in fact, these seals aren't even harmed.

I do agree that it's time for our province to start pursuing sustanibile industries If the seal hunt is mananged property to ensure only what's needed is taken and all that is taken is used, then the industrly would indeed continue to be sustainable. I'm a strong supporter of the ways of old where thousands of people existed by way of hunter/gatherer. These people would scour the land gathering food and killing animals to feed apon... however, they would only take or kill what they need. There was no stockpilling of meat or sport hunting thus ensuring that there would always be plant and animal life to live off for generations to come.

This is my participation to the democracy. I want Mr. Harris and the rest of the country to hear my voice on this issue and will do whatever possible to make sure all of the voices of Newfoundland and Labrador are heard. A well managed, publically informed hunt is a sustainable way of life and should never be banned completly. The effects to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are too severe to do so.

Stephen Harris
Green Party Candidate - St. John's East

1 comment:

Mark Antony said...

Mark Brennan, Random Burin St Georges Green Candidate

My own position on the seal hunt.

Well I may as well wade into this endless issue to clear the air. My own position on the seal hunt it this. Firstly, I appreciate that Newfoundlanders have traditionally hunted seals for well over a hundred years. I realise it is a huge part of the culture. Lets get one thing out of the way. I hunt, yes kill, for food. And I fish for food also. So you could say that I am not opposed to the killing of wild animals for food purposes. My wife’s family have been farmers for more than six generations here in Nova Scotia, and I worked on a Scottish sheep farm as a young lad of 14. I have raised pigs and chickens and butchered them myself also. So do I oppose the killing of seals? There are two answers to this question. On the grounds of killing seals for food, I am absolutely not against this. Some killing is needed for any of us to live. Animal rights groups would perhaps have a different argument here.

Now I am not going to pretend I don’t get emotional when I watch an animal die. Of course I do. But I try to maintain a close relationship to nature so that I always feel a sadness when I kill for food. Feeling this closeness helps me to understand that I am also a part of this incredible planet and I should indeed also help protect it.

On the issue of industrial sealing. Yes I am opposed to the killing of thousands of Seals to be sold in foreign markets. Seals are marine mammals and are a vital part of the marine eco-system world wide. The fishery off Newfoundland and Nova Scotia is in serious decline through the introduction of huge draggers and over fishing. It is time to begin to at least attempt to re-establish these healthy eco-systems to ensure future integrity. This would mean an end to the commercial seal hunt as well as other steps like establishing large marine protected areas.

I have spent some time with Newfoundlanders who have family that have been in the annual seal hunt for years. I respect them and have been a ‘patron’ of their kindness on more than one occasion. So for me it’s not so much an emotional issue. Snowshoe Hares are ripped apart daily by Great Horned Owls, Elk are killed by Wolves, and that is my argument. I am interested in preserving this natural balance. In ensuring that all these predator/prey relationships continue for thousands more years. Instead in these times we are slowly seeing the demise of the oceans species. From the Great Whales to the Turtles and countless other species, all are declining because of humans. What I oppose is humans seeing ‘wild nature’ as a commodity to profit from. If this type of thinking continues we WILL fish the oceans to extinction. There will be no fish for any of us to catch, only a tiny remnant of a once thriving ocean.

We see declines in African mammals through the ‘bush meat’ trade, the Japanese fishermen kill thousands of Dolphins each year and Norway and Japan are hell bent on a continuation of whaling. Thousands of sea birds and Sharks are killed by drift nets, the Nova Scotian mainland Moose is now endangered, in 100 years the Polar Bear will be gone, amphibians are in massive decline, the list goes on and on. What kind of planet are we leaving behind? It’s time for all of us to change our relationship to the earth, to understand that there really are no jobs on a dead planet.