We’re supposedly living in a democracy, but in Canada it is currently perilous, nay, impossible to oppose the commercial seal hunt.Insults, threats and heinous propaganda rain down on all those who oppose it. There are many low blows, including backstabbing.

It’s impossible to give one’s opinion, utter a comment, quote scientific sources or present videos exposing the cruelty of this hunt. When it comes from those against the hunt, it’s disinformation, demagogic & emotional cries of Brigitte Bardot sentimentalists, ploys to raisefunds. Even worse, those who dare raise their voices for the survival of seals are labeled « dangerous animalists », terrorists working for powerful organizations that make money off the backs of poor seal hunters.

Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette, in a recent communiqué about China agreeing to sell commercial seal products, again attacked, as has been her habit for several years, the « vegetarian extremists » : « The federal government defends Canadian sealers who have been victims of the cynical European boycott and callous campaigns from animalist pressure groups. »

The sealers and those who support them should be happy about this new market. Why aren’t they savouring their victory? Instead, their campaign of defamation continues against vegetarians and the defenders of animals. While the debate about the killing of seals should concentrate on the hunt itself, we’re instead focusing mainly on a generalized lynching of all those who dare oppose it. Scare tactics, discrediting, intimidation – those are the ways of totalitarian countries, the kind that Canada is so proud to do business with.

In any good story, we need good guys and villains. Those who kill hundreds of thousands of seals under the false pretext of saving cod, while it’s really to supply the fur industry, are now the good guys. Those who defend animals against suffering, and the environment against the threat from multinational fur companies, have become the villains. (The commercial seal hunt, to not displease their lobby, is first and foremost related to the commercial fur industry. It is very difficult to get consumers to appreciate seal meat. According to a scientific report from the European Union, it does not conform to the norms or well-being of an animal killed in a slaughterhouse. More so, it is contaminated with mercury and several other carcinogenic and mutagenic pollutants.)

Seal Hunt: Stop The Lies

Facebook is home to the openly-public page “Chasse aux phoques : Stop aux mensonges”, and can be read by all. They brag about having over 3,000 sympathizers and among the moderators, we find sealers along with some members of the Canadian government: Céline Hervieux-Payette, her political consultant Maximilien Dupontailler,  Reynald Blais Deputy for Gaspesie/ Iles de la Madeleine, and Annie Landry, his political attaché.

This alliance of sympathizers defines itself as « an informational group on the seal hunt »,  However, to read the comments on their page, one would think it’s rather a group with an unhealthy fixation on vegetarians and the presumed dangers of vegetarianism/veganism or tofu.

Mr. Dupontailler posts articles about foie gras to the group, on  » The dangers of the vegetarian philosophy supporting animal rights »(in French)  or to assure that « Vegetarians really rub the Innuit the wrong way. » (We can ask ourselves what the Inuit have to do in the debate, as the European Union’s boycott never targeted them.  But it seems that the Canadian government now uses the Inuit, too, to encourage defamation towards targeted civilian groups.)

Poor Mr. Dupontallier even goes so far as to complain to the hunters that he is « targeted by Veganas (Vegetarians/animalists/ anti speciests) », following his articles that questionably blend terrorists & veganism.

Why is there this heinous propaganda against vegetarians and those who defend animals in a group about information on the seal hunt? What is the goal of turning around the debate that way, instead of giving credible and substantiated facts & arguments?

Is it so hard to defend the commercial seal hunt from an ethical and environmental point of view that the governmental lobby groups and the Quebecois hunters feel obligated to target and attack these  » Fascist hippies who eat grains » as one member of the group Pascal Hebert writes?  » With a good stuffing, it could make a damn big buffet »   » We’d have to beat them with a hakapik, to tenderize the meat » , answered another named Sebastien Bourgeois. « Those PETAsses , if they ate seal and fish, they’d have more brains », according to Luc Francois.

One of their gurus, Leonce Arseneau, writes a lot and under different identities. He seems to have many followers, despite the fact that he often shows signs of racism and misogyny. When talking about an activist who goes by the name of David :  » That Frenchman who still has his damn French accent from the city, who came to Canada incognito, to infiltrate a political group and wants to prevent Canadians from living in harmony. I recognised him by his damn French accent. »
Commenting on the nomination of Sameer Muldeen for public speaker for the Green Party of Canada – who are against the seal hunt – , Mr. Arseneau continues his political analysis :  » all the organizations against the seal hunt come from outside. Strangers who come here and tell us how to live at our home. Rufieux with his damn accent, Patricia Tulasne the hysterical, a damn French immigrant, Georges Laraque, a Haitian, mamer mulden (he doesn’t come from Chicoutimi, that one) … »

Patricia Tulasne, who had the courage on many occasions to participate in public debates against the seal hunt, seems to crystallize the hate, as much towards those who oppose it as towards those who are from elsewhere. According to J.E Beaulieu « she’s a failed comedian, who has problems between the two ears. I have nothing against tofu, but I have the impression that it’s really affected her neurons. »

According to Michelle Painchaud : « she must be well paid by PETA, another donation based group, to show her face at certain events ».

« Only good for petting dogs and licking their ears » retorts another by the name of Lou Marin, who under his anonymity, often heats up exchanges with the most incoherent of insults :   » do you know what we call the mental illness that Sylvie, Marjolaine Jolicoeur, the queen of disinformation, suffer from : The RIFFEUILOGUS!!!! She makes me laugh so much with her non violence, she’s an adept and an enraged militant, dangerous to society. Even the Dalai Lama wouldn’t want her as a friend!!! Marjo, attach your tuque with wire… « I remember »  they’re not finished with me… »

When talking about an activist, a certain Theriault assures that he can easily take care of her: « Let her come see me, I’m a hunter with 45 years experience, and one well placed shot between the two hemispheres… she’ll be on her back for a long time. »

Dark humour? Malicious pleasantries?  We might be able to believe it if these messages didn’t keep cropping up for nearly 2 years now, day after day, endlessly.  Messages of hate mixed with paranoia, fuelled by Mr Dupontallier and relayed by Mrs. Hervieux-Payette in the media.

On several occasions, activists have suffered intimidation and threats. On that public site, the activists’ real names, their pictures and those of their children have been posted without their consent. In certain cases, their home addresses and phone numbers were displayed online – illegal actions that the administrators let slide.

Traps & jokes

Like in any good movie starring government members and sympathizers, a spy is always welcome to add some action. Two animal defenders told me a story that, in the end, reveals the way that hunters feel about those who don’t think like them.

In early January, believing that a spy, under a fake name of course, was reading private messages on their Facebook wall, the two activists wanted to prove it. They recounted online that they were on vacation in the Magdelen Islands and that Steve, one of their brothers, wanted to come from France to take a course on hunting and participate in the hunt to take pictures etc.

The spy, of course showed up – publicly on the hunters’ site and on their walls – alerting the group of the presence of 2 animalists on their territory. « They’re visiting the islands until the 8th of January. Their house is located near mario st-amant, in the mountain », warned Mr Arseneau in an announcement. For several days, a witch-hunt was organized. « We have to identify those two, and stop them permanently. Don’t serve them at the restaurant, or at the grocery store, at the pharmacy or at the gas station, the islands dont need those twofuckers », assures Sylvain Bernier while adding « they must come from the plateau mont royal those two dummies, they eat tofu and drink foam-farters’ beer.”

So, many of them come together to uncover the strangers who seem impossible to find : « I heard that someone had seen one of those faces on our territory this week…. We have to look on the side of a Poirier family, also. They are several militants, that gang (Carl,Jack, Sebastien,Veronica.) », assures Mrs. Painchaud.

Mr. Arseneau seems all excited in his hunt for two legged prey:  » I just came back from Havre Aubert, we searched all the houses around Mr St-Amant, and we found nothing. Tomorrow we’ll go to the grand entrée. »

If they find those animalists on those islands that, after all, belong to all Quebecers, what will they do with them?  » Tie them in the woods for when I pass », affirms Mr Hébert. « Some boot kicks to the ass, then kick them out, » suggests Germaine Doyle. « We should ban them from the Islands, who are these people to tell us what to hunt or what not to hunt. » an idea that seems nearly unanimous : « Like Bardot at the time, with boot kicks to the ass all the way to the pier or the airport », responds Mr Turbide.

Certain more tolerant members try to calm the discussions, reminding them that violence breeds more violence, and that their heinous comments are illegal and misplaced and have no place on a public forum that is seen by all. « Have you forgotten the pride of being a man, fuck”, retorts Mr Hébert, “Not fucking politicized intellectuals – have you fucking lived on the Plateau before? »

Mr Arseneau seems to agree with Mr Hébert: « Everyone on the islands tell us : Don’t talk about the seal hunt, the tourist industry tells us to talk about the white pups, but not the hunt. By being quiet, we let others interpret things for us, it fuels controversy, that Magdelenersare nice in the summer, and barbaric in the winter. »  Let’s not forget that Mr Arseneau declared in a televised report last spring, that he didn’t hunt seal out of necessity, but to « fuel the controversy. » On the sealers’ site, he bragged that it was him who councilled Raoul Jomphe on his documentary « Phoques,le film”.(A documentary funded mainly by a government-owned television network.) This same Leonce started up a group on Facebook called “Georges Laraque & the seal hunt”, where he said that Mr Laraque was a « killer of humans ». The comments made in that group were so heinous that, following many complaints, Facebook removed the group.

Finally, despite intensive searches and general excitement, the two animalists could not be found. With good reason  – they never set foot on the Islands! Their plan was just to unmask the intruders coming onto their private Facebook walls and reading their messages. Proof that rumours go around just as fast in the Magdelen Islands as on the internet. Even today, the pro-sealers are still trying to infiltrate with fake profiles, trying to make it seem that they are on the side of the animals and forging identities.

Patricia Tulasne & The Green Party

This group, which has as its mission, according to him, to inform people about the seal hunt, also lobbies political parties. Mr Arseneau « like a real ecologist », as he says, is connected to The Green Party of Quebec, who unlike their Federal or even European counterparts, agrees with the commercial seal hunt.

This past January 12th, Patricia Tulasne received this signed memo from Gilbert Caron, member of the Executive Committee for The Green Party of Quebec, and a friend of the group of hunters :  » Our policy is to take positions, and that’s what we’re doing. You can be against our position, that’s your choice. But you aren’t obliged to dirty our image. We could also maybe criticize you, but we have too much respect for you. We’d like the same thing if people who are against the hunt want to come forward, they have the right, but it’s none of your business. YOU SHOULD STICK TO TELEVISION. We could criticize you in public too, we reap what we sow. »  Luckily Marcel Plamondon, also with the Green Party of Quebec, wrote and apologised to her, stating that way of thinking was not in line with his Party’s philosophy.

Hunters Are Good Guys…

Seal hunters are presently trying, by all means possible, to make the public and the media believe that all those against the commercial seal hunt are all, without exception, « violent vegetarian/vegans extremists » whose work it is to tarnish the hunters’ image. Hunters don’t need anyone to tarnish their image, the facts speak for themselves.

In April of 2006, with the aim to document on and film the seal hunt, 15 observers from the Franze Weber Foundation accompanied Carl Schlyter, member of the E.U commission in charge of environmental issues at the European Parliament, along with a group of international journalists. When leaving their hotel in Blanc Sablon to get to their helicopter, the group of observers was surrounded by about 60 sealers, who didn’t hesitate to shout death threats. The observers finally got out, but the Franze Weber Foundation vehicle was hit by a speeding truck driven by one of the hunters, sending the vehicle hurtling off the road.  Vera Weber felt this situation was life threatening: « A wild crowd used violent tactics to prevent us from leaving for the massacre site. The local police did nothing to help or protect us. It’s nerve-wracking to witness firsthand the complacency of the Canadian government and this corrupt industry. I’m ashamed of Canada. »

Once he arrived back in Europe, the Deputy Carl Schlyter voted, along with other European Parliamentarians, in favour of a boycott of seal-derived products. He testified in front of the European Parliament:  » I went last spring with a group of European journalists to observe the seal hunt. We went to assist the baby seals who are left to suffer on the ice during this cruel slaughter. Climactic changes and the receding of the ice shelf are threatening their survival, because their survival depends on there being ice… My present request is to extend the interdiction that will finally permit eco-tourism to replace the carnage. »

The Canadian Senator Mac Harb is not an animal activist, nor even a vegetarian. Like many, he is against the commercial seal hunt following several observational trips to the area. He received more than 800,000 e-mails, telephone calls and letters of support to encourage him to continue his informational campaign on the hidden face of the seal killings: « I’ve seen with my own eyes the dangerous and revolting brutality of this hunt. Despite all best efforts, the Canadian Government simply cannot regulate a commercial activity done under such dangerous conditions in such a short amount of time. »

Marjolaine Jolicoeur – 2010

Thank you to all the activists for their research and for sending me screen-captures in helping me elaborate on this text.