Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bears, Seals, and Bad Omens

You know it's not a good omen for the seal hunt when Vladimir Putin, of all people, wants to save the seals.

Putin showed a bizarre sense of ironic humour when he labelled the seal hunt a "bloody industry" that "should have been banned a long time ago." I guess military invasions or arms exporting don't count as bloody industries, then. On Wednesday the Russian government announced a ban on the hunting of all harp seals less than one year old.

According to the NP:
"The move came as a surprise to Thomas Hedderson, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Newfoundland and Labrador, whose province is preparing for the beginning of its annual hunt. Harp seal reserves off the coast there number well more than five million and are increasing, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
"I'm not as familiar with the Russian hunt as I am with our own, but they're clearly having problems we are not experiencing," he said.
"Our hunt is one of the best-managed and most-regualted [sic] industries you'll see anywhere. It's sustainable, it's viable and it's humane."

As with the naked Spanish seal hunt protestors, this latest development has nothing to do with federalism, Harper, or the never-ending ABC war. It has nothing to do with whether NL has its own foreign policy.

I'm sure some open-line caller will insist that DW could have changed Vlad's mind if DW was President of the Republic of Newfoundland rather than a mere provincial premier. But sooner or later, the politicians and public in NL are going to have to come to grips with the full international scope of the opposition to the seal hunt.

I suspect it will be later. What will happen sooner is that the whole mess will be conveniently blamed on Ottawa. What will happen sooner is that DW will use the seal hunt as a political tool, as another way to attack Harper. What will happen sooner is that the public discussion will devolve into dark tales of yet another federalist conspiracy.

It would be nice to have an open and frank discussion of the geopolitical context of the seal hunt. But I suspect I'll be cashing in my old-age cheque before that happens.

Here's the link to the NP story:

P.S. And what kind of juvenile, asinine comment is this: "I don't know where he's coming from, whether it's a personal point of view or his country's view," Mr. Hedderson said. Does every cabinet minister in NL have an implant that forces them to utter such DW-style jibberish in public? God knows how they must speak behind closed doors. I guess it's never dawned on them that not all politics is personal.

Here's some geopolitics 101: Vlad is the PM. He's a shrewd politician. He has made a political calculation: the extremely small economic hit Russia will take for the ban is far outweighed by the political gain. His invasion of Georgia last summer, coupled with his natural gas power-play this winter, really pissed off the Europeans; so what better way (and what cheaper way) to curry favour with the seal-loving Europeans than to come out against the seal hunt? That's it. Got it?

Media Update:

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