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COC says no to seal skin

Following European ban of Canadian seal products, MPs endorse concept of seal skin on Olympic uniforms

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Canada's Olympic athletes want no part in the ongoing dispute between foreign countries and the Canadian government on the annual seal kill, and are refusing to wear sealskin as part of their official uniform in 2010.


The Bloc Quebecois made a motion in Parliament on Wednesday to investigate whether seal skin or another seal product could be included on the official team uniform. The non-binding motion was passed unanimously in the house, although the Fisheries Minister, Gail Shea, suggested that it might be too late.


Further down the line, however, the Canadian Olympic Committee immediately rejected the idea - not over any specific objections to the controversial hunt, but because it's against their policy for athletes to make any kind of political statement. Canadian Olympic Committee President Mike Chambers told the CBC that his response will be the same to any other proposal of this kind to come his way.


He also noted that it is probably too late, as the International Olympic Committee has already approved Canada's uniforms and outfits for the Games.


The annual seal hunt has been condemned by groups at home and abroad as barbaric and unnecessary, and earlier last week the European Parliament endorsed a ban on Canadian seal products.


But MPs believe the hunt is not well understood, and that seals would likely be culled anyway to protect fish stocks. They also say they've taken steps to make the hunt more humane and regulated. The harp seal allowable catch for 2009 is 280,000, plus 50,000 grey seals and 8,200 hooded seals. For many communities hurt by the collapse of the cod fishery, the seal hunt has helped to keep people working.


The Canadian Olympic Committee's no-politics policy has been tested several times recently. For example, it forbid athletes from showing any solidarity with Tibet or protesting the Chinese government while representing Canada in an official capacity.

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