And who, you ask, is Danny Williams? I'm not talking about the heavyweight boxer... I'm talking about Newfoundland's beloved premier! (Newfoundland is a Canadian province, people!!!) Newfoundland is home to the much discussed seal-hunt that has been a "cause célebre" for several years in the past, both in Canada and internationally. I watched a debate on this subject take place on Larry King Live yesterday night (yes, I was watching TV on a Friday night). Today, I found the CBC article that talked about it.
It's interesting that even though the entire world is being told by strong media and celebrity endorsements that the seal-hunt is extremely inhumane and cruel, the Canadian media tends to be supportive of the hunt. General Canadian reporting seems to indicate that everyone else in the world is being misinformed. Although most internet sites and international media will make the seal hunt sound really bad, it is very interesting to see the Canadian government's page on Seal Hunt myths, which supports the opposite viewpoint.
This debate came to a head in the live CNN debate where Paul McCartney and his wife attempted to convince people that the hunt is cruel, not to mention their economic solutions for Canada. I was initially swayed by their argument, until premier Williams came on (about half way through), and started questioning their facts and arguments. Not that I think Williams presented a greatly eloquent argument, but he did make me stop and actually contemplate the other side. To be honest, I'm now a little unsure of what the truth is, but I'm more in favour of the hunt than against it. The premier raised some very interesting points, including that he felt that the McCartneys were being used (he's a brave man!) by some sensationalist and very well funded organisations like PETA, while more reputable organisations like the WWF supported the hunt.
The McCartneys (Paul was wearing a nice Canada sweater) were in favour of banning the seal hunt and setting up an eco-tourism industry akin to the whale-watching industry that replaced the now-illegal whaling industry decades ago, along with government subsidies that would supplement the fishermen's incomes. It should be noted that the seal population is not currently endanged, even though the McCartneys said it was only a matter of time that it soon would be, an assertion which was challenged by the premier. The show did show some live video of the seal hunt which was admittedly not pleasant, but I wondered how representative of the hunt this video is or isn't, as it is hard to judge. It didn't show whether or not the seals suffer much, or at all. I also wondered if there is any good way to kill any animal. I guess this animal suffers more because it is so cute.
In my opinion the premier didn't come off as the most eloquent person, but he did force thoughtful viewers to consider that there is another viewpoint. The McCartneys were defensive at times, but they presented a fairly unified and consistent approach that was on-topic. I think the premier felt defensive, since he was going off topic a little, but really, how could you not be defensive when arguing against McCartney, whom everybody loves. It was probably a lost cause to start with, so I think he did really well.
Best quote from McCartney's wife:
KING: Well, what do you make of the argument that most of them are shot, Heather?
H. MCCARTNEY: Well, it's just not true. It's complete and absolute rubbish. It's just not true. Most of them are shot and clubbed in a hacky pick thing, which is a tall, long hook and then they hit them once with it and drag them along the ground. And they only use the one bullet. Again, because it's used for fur. It's not used for any other thing.
Best quote by Danny Williams:
WILLIAMS: Larry, let me tell you a couple of things. First of all, Heather is incorrect. There are 90 percent of these animals that are basically killed by firearms. So I had to set the record straight because I live here and I actually know. As well, you know, there's an unfair comparison that if you go into a beef slaughter house or a pork slaughter house or a chicken slaughter house and you put white sheets down on the floor, well then you're going to see blood. And that's not nice and that's not pleasant.
Here's a full transcript of the show.