Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Canadian Federal Fisheries Minister Apologizes To HSUS For Suggesting That Several Members Had Been Charged With Interfering With Baby Seal Slaughter

Little late now as the slaughter is done. And mostly for pr.


Federal fisheries minister apologizes to U.S. Humane Society


ST. JOHN'S, N.L. (CP) - Federal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn has apologized to the Humane Society of the United States for suggesting that several members of the animal rights group had been charged with interfering with the annual seal hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

While it's true some members of the anti-sealing group were arrested, Hearn issued a brief statement Monday saying he has since learned no one was actually charged. "I apologize for suggesting that charges had been laid," Hearn said in a news release.

In March, Hearn took the unusual step of banning five society members and one British animal protection worker from the hunt after their boat apparently violated the terms of their observer permits by getting too close to a sealing vessel in the gulf.

Speaking to reporters on March 31, Hearn said: "If you step over that line and try to interfere in any way with the hunt, then you can be arrested and charged, as people were last week. These people will not be going back to the hunt."

Earlier this month, the humane society served Hearn with a libel notice, claiming the minister had tried to "criminalize" the process by falsely suggesting charges had been laid.

The notice said none of the seven people involved in a confrontation with sealers on the ice floes had been charged with any offences, and Hearn's words implied they deliberately intended to disrupt the hunt.

The group had demanded the apology be made at a news conference, but a spokesman for the minister said Monday that won't be happening.

Canadian fishery officials are reviewing the rules and considering new restrictions on observers of the hunt.

The hunt, which closed last month, was one of the most turbulent in decades.

Besides clashes between sealers and protesters, celebrities including ex-Beatle Paul McCartney and actress Brigitte Bardot spearheaded new efforts to stop it.

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