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NEWS: Canada-EU seal hunt conflict goes to the WTO, March 25

Humane Society International

Humane Society International

Postmedia News reports this morning that, “The European Union has blocked Canadian efforts to have the World Trade Organization decide whether an EU ban on trade in seal products breaks global trade rules, but won’t be able to prevent a second request, likely in March.” Postmedia News had reported earlier this month, “The (Harper) government’s request is to be heard at the next WTO dispute settlement body meeting on Feb. 24. At that time, the EU will have the chance to block the request. However, Canada can then make a second request at the following meeting on March 25, and the EU would be unable to block it again. A panel would then have to be set up. …The process is likely to take at least a year…”
SEAL HUNT SAID TO THREATEN CETA: That earlier story noted that, “Canada has launched a challenge at the World Trade Organization against the European Union ban on Canadian seal products, despite the views of some that it could threaten a multibillion-dollar trade deal with Europe. …A report tabled (in early-February) from the House of Commons parliamentary committee on trade suggested the seal issue could hurt the chances that the Canada-European Union free trade agreement is ratified. …(Fisheries Minister Gail) Shea dismissed such concerns yesterday, saying both sides have agreed to let the WTO handle the seal issue separately from the trade agreement. ‘The dispute with the EU will not affect our trade negotiations,’ she said.”

SEAL HUNT PHOTOS GOING TO MEPS: “The European Parliament, dismissing Canada’s argument that the hunt is humane, voted by a 550-49 margin to impose the seal ban in May 2009.” The Halifax Chronicle-Herald reports this morning that, “Anti-sealing campaigners, Fisheries and Oceans officers, RCMP, members of the media and veterinarians gathered (yesterday) on an island off eastern Cape Breton to observe a grey seal hunt. There were 20 licensed sealers on Hay Island who hunted the seals and dispatched them with club-like hakapiks. For the first time, sealers also used low-calibre rifles to kill the mammals.” As reported by the Globe and Mail a couple of days ago, “This year, the animal-rights organization (the Humane Society of Canada) is bringing a photographer from a European-based wire service so pictures of the young seals being clubbed to death can be transmitted to the bloc of countries that has banned Canadian seal products.”

IMPACT ON CETA TALKS: The ban is already affecting the negotiations. Newfoundland and Labrador is not participating in the talks, it is only there as an observer. An earlier campaign blog pointed out that in February 2009, then-Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams said that the federal government would be abandoning his province if Prime Minister Harper did not demand that the EU drop the ban. Williams also said, “At this point, we are not willing to sign on to support the negotiation of a new and comprehensive economic agreement with the European Union.” Harper replied that he would defend the sealing industry, but that he would not allow the ban to “contaminate” a potential CETA deal.

Today’s Postmedia News article is at http://www.windsorstar.com/news/blocks+appeal+seal+products/4344874/story.html.