Canada's Removal of Anti-Seal Minister Leaves Hope Of Honest Negotiations
Friday Harbor, Washington, November 22, 2005 -- Today marks a red letter day for anti-sealers as John "Kill 'em all" Efford, the Regional Minister for Newfoundland and Labrador, resigned his position after mounting public and political pressure to do so.
"The end of the political career of John Efford may help Canada adopt a more reasonable and mature attitude towards the seals," says Captain Watson, Founder and President of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS), a marine wildlife conservation organization founded in 1977. "We are happy that the Canadian Government decided to replace Minister Efford, as it was impossible to enter into serious discussions regarding seals when the touted his resolution to exterminate the seals."
Though Minister Efford claims that he was forced to resign because of health problems, the public scandal he has caused the Canadian government over the years raises questions. For example, before the Canadian House of Assembly Proceedings on May 4, 1998, then Minister of Fisheries of Newfoundland Minister Efford professed, "I would like to see the six million seals, or whatever number is out there, killed and sold, destroyed or burned. I do not care what happens to them . . . the more they kill the better I will love it".
Canada is now under serious economic and social pressure because of the successful boycott of Canadian seafood supported by organizations like SSCS and others who are trying to stop the killing of the Canadian seals. But with representatives such as Minister Efford at the helm, the Canadian government isn't being taken seriously when they proclaim that they are attempting to find solutions.
On November 7, 2005, a colleague of similar sentiment to Minister Efford, Geoff Regan, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Regional Minister for Nova Scotia, attempted to hold a meeting in Minister Efford's domain of Newfoundland for the alleged purpose of getting input on the sealing issue from all interested parties. But the meeting fell apart because anti-sealers felt that expressed statements from officials life Minister Efford and Minister Regan meant that their views would not be taken seriously.
Captain Watson, in the South Pacific at the time of the meeting, stated, "I was amazed that Minister Regan told reporters that he was disappointed that I didn't attend the meeting because he wanted input from all parties. I have been requesting a meeting with Minister Regan for years to no avail," Captain Watson clarified as to why he acquiesced to boycott of the meeting. It appears that the parties felt it necessary to boycott the forum because in the past, like Minister Efford, Minister Regan's pro-sealing sentiments have not presented a non-biased forum in which their input was taken seriously,
However, with Canada's decision to remove Minister Efford, professional marine conservation specialists like Captain Watson are looking on with a keen eye. Maybe there is hope that Canada will create a genuine forum where sound logic will rule and genuine concerns will be addressed.