OTTAWA — The Canadian government will not withdraw a challenge at the World Trade Organization despite a call from the European Union to abandon the fight over a ban on seal products, an official said Wednesday.
A spokesman for Trade Minister Ed Fast said Canada will pursue its bid to overturn a European Union ban on the importation of seal products.
Adam Taylor made the comments after the European Parliament issued a resolution Wednesday suggesting the challenge be abandoned before the parliament votes on ratifying a trade agreement with Canada.
"These are completely separate issues and we're moving ahead with our WTO challange," he said.
"The trade negotiation with the EU is one issue and our settlement process at the WTO with respect to seal products is a completely separate issue."
A statement on the European Parliament's website said that while members praised progress in the talks, they raised concerns about seal products, the Alberta tar sands and intellectual property rights.
It suggested that talks could stall or be derailed if the issues can't be resolved.
"(Members) voiced their strong hope that Canada would withdraw its WTO challenge before the European Parliament has to vote on ratifying the (trade agreement)," the release stated.
The Humane Society International, which has long opposed Canada's annual seal hunt, praised the move. In a release, it said the European Parliament could reject the free trade deal and jeopardize up to $12 billion in GDP gains by 2014 for Canada.
"Not only will the challenge cost 20 times the landed value of the seal hunt this year, but it is clearly threatening ratification of a trade deal reportedly worth $12 billion annually to our economy," Rebecca Aldworth said in the release.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in the throne speech Friday that he hoped to complete free trade negotiations with the European Union by 2012.
Ottawa launched a formal challenge on Europe's ban on Canadian seal products last February, arguing the EU is breaking certain international trade obligations.
The ban was approved by the European Union's 27 member states in 2009 and imposed last year.
Accept the challenge, get it over with... have a final judgement based on facts, come to a final conclusion on the matter & move on....... but instead, the EU wants to have everything their way and act like Canada is such a horrible place due to the seal hunt, the oil sands & pirating..... as if the EU is so benevolent & don't have their own list of problems.