THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BRUSSELS – European Union countries ignored Ottawa's protests and gave their final approval Monday to a ban on imports of seal products in an effort to force Canada to end its annual seal hunt.
A majority of the EU's 27 member states see the way Canada conducts its hunt, the world's largest, as inhumane.
The ban was approved without debate at a meeting of EU foreign ministers, although Denmark and Romania abstained from backing the measure, which Ottawa is protesting as an unfair trade restriction. Austria also abstained because it wanted an even stricter ban.
The EU ban will exempt products derived from traditional hunts carried out by Inuit in Canada's Arctic, as well as those from Greenland, Alaska and Russia. They can export products to the EU but only "on a not-for-profit basis."
The International Fund for Animal Welfare applauded the EU decision as a "significant victory" in IFAW's 40-year campaign to end Canada's commercial seal hunt.
"There is a wonderful sense of accomplishment today after years of hard work," said Lesley O'Donnell, director of IFAW EU.
The EU gave its final approval just a day after the federal government made a last-ditch effort to persuade European politicians to vote against the ban.
Trade Minister Stockwell Day and Fisheries Minister Gail Shea urged the European parliamentarians Sunday to think twice about supporting the ban.
"The government of Canada is gravely concerned that the European Union is continuing to push for a ban on seal products without any consideration of an exemption for Canada's humane and sustainable seal hunt," they said in a statement.
Day and Shea also threatened trade action against the EU if it goes ahead with the ban.
"Should the EU choose to adopt a seal products trade ban that does not contain an acceptable derogation for humanely harvested seal products, Canada will defend its rights and interests under the relevant World Trade Organization agreements," they said.
Seems to me that a small part of Canada is yelling that the rest of the world is crazy not it.