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Blame Canada?

March 20, 2003 ~ 1:39 p.m.

Disclaimer: This is not an anti-Canadian rant, and is not meant to be interpreted as such.

I recently had cause to rethink, if not reverse (at least not in the absence of force, which I’ll explain later), my stance on boycotting trips to France.

At a time when some Americans are re-naming chips “freedom fries,” and Europe, Americans themselves, and the world engages in vicious anti-Americanism, and the whole globe is in turmoil over a war that will last less than a goddamned month, it was with awe that I perused through a publication my wife received in the mail last night whose front page headline screamed “BOYCOTT CANADA.”

Now then, the Canadians have tried to forge common ground with the U.S., U.K. and U.N.—a vain but noble undertaking. They’ve generally supported the war effort while at the same time aiming a bit of constructive criticism at the Americans here and there—certainly nothing inflammatory and no reason to launch a boycott against Canada.

The publication, however, did not have the war on its mind. It was entitled Respect for Animals and proclaimed that the Canadian slaughter of seals defies public opinion, and also has gone on for far too long with far too little pressure exerted on the Canadian government.

On the first count, I cannot really sermonize as I believe the general opinion of the majority with respect to the war is so very clearly in the wrong. If I chastise Canada for ignoring its detractors, then I would be hypocritical. If the opinion of the majority, under the great guise of democracy, that its leaders are wrong and the left-wing slanted media knows it all has taught me anything lately, it’s that H.L. Mencken was correct when he wrote, “Democracy is [also] a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses.”

But, on the second count, it doesn’t change the fact that Canada is so clearly in the dark ages when it comes to animal welfare. Respect for Animals is correct in that the sinister seal poaching has gone on for far too long. They have encouraged the nefarious fur trade (all these fashion models are blind to the blood behind the scenes whenever they sport the last “fashion” in fur), and the government gives license to seal poachers in the interests of protecting the fishing industry. Sorry, overfishing by the human, not seal, population is responsible for the decline of fish within Canadian marine territory.

My verdict: Respect for Animals is right to call Canada out on its crimes against nature. (Although it must be said that Canada is not alone. The Australian government has done next to nothing to protect kangaroos against poaching. RFA have highlighted the Australians’ negligence toward its wildlife but has not yet called for a boycott on Australia.)

Returning to the subject of boycotts, I was not comfortable with the hollering headline on the magazine cover at first, nor my wife’s blistering indignation. It’s rather amusing, and downright ironic, that after lecturing me about how wrong I was to declare a ban on future trips to France and declaring this publicly, she announced through gritted teeth, “That’s it, I’m definitely not going to Canada!” and preceded to make it clear that if I am to visit Montreal or Toronto in the near future, then I will do so on my own. Over the past few weeks, she broke me down through incessant pestering till I finally gave in and said, “OK, fuck it, we’ll go to Paris again sometime!” But she is adamant that she will not be taking in New World Gallic quaintness in Montreal. This leads me to conclude that my wife and I, respectfully, must either be on the right side of indignation or on the wrong side of sanctimony.

So I played Devil’s Advocate and I threw back at her the words she once used on me:

“The government is responsible for this, hon. Not the average Canadian.”

She pointed to a picture of a man clubbing a seal in front of its mother. “That is not the government,” she replied. “That is a Canadian person willfully clubbing a baby seal!”

“No, hon, that is a poacher, not an ordinary Canadian. Canadians are disgusted by this too, I’m sure.”

“If that’s true, how come this practice hasn’t ended years ago?”

“Maybe Canadians aren’t very well informed of this slaughter. Government is secretive.” Then I went for the jugular. “Jacques Chirac profits from the shedding of innocent Iraqi, Kurdish and Shi’ite Muslim blood and backs his arguments up by calling America ‘imperialist.’ Ottawa profits from the shedding of seal blood for the fur trade and backs it up with arguments that seals present a danger to the decline of fish. What, tell me, is the difference?”

My wife stood transfixed by the thought that she may have been putting the lives of animals above the lives of humans. So, hmmm, purchasing a Kronenbourg and visiting Paris isn’t frowned upon when you take into account the blood-stained French position, but I would be bollocksed if I bought a Molson and bought two tickets to Montreal because the Canadian government is swimming in seal blood.

We are either both in the right or both in the wrong. But I will say this—opposition to the seal hunt in Ontario and the Western provinces is substantial, but the problem is that this is countered by a strong lobby and vocal population in favor of seal poaching in the Atlantic provinces. Canadian opposition, when spread out, comes off looking thin and insubstantial, therefore allowing the Canadian government to keep clubbing away and misrepresenting half the Canadian federation. In France, however, a whopping 80% of the population backs Chirac’s stance and pro-war voices, where they exist, are silenced through extortion or, more likely, intense antagonism. Which is a greater evil and threat to world civility?

I have said that I will go back to Paris. I think the wife should seek common ground with me and go to Montreal. There is a solution, there is a middle ground. At least in marriage there is.

– M.E.M.

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