Should seal be a meal?

After the Canadian Parliament dined on seal to protest a new hunting ban, animal-rights activists exploded.

Should Parliament have dined on seal meat?
(Image credit: Corbis)

The main course at today's Canadian parliamentary luncheon — "double-smoked bacon-wrapped seal loin" — came with a steaming side of controversy. The photo-op meal was organized to protest the EU's recent decision to ban seal hunting, a practice often described as "barbaric," in which hunters bludgeon the slow-moving mammals with a claw-shaped tool called a hakapik. Canada's government believes the ban will both lead to seal overpopulation, throwing off the global eco-balance, and devastate the Canadian seal-hunting economy. Should seal be served? (Watch the Canadian parliament debate the ethics of seal hunting)

All cruelty to animals is equal: Yes, death by hakapik sounds horrifying, says Chris in Paris at AmericaBlog, but it's no less repulsive than what happens everyday at American slaughterhouses. It's practically impossible to kill an animal painlessly. To take a real stand against the cruelty associated with animal slaughter, you have to become a vegetarian.

"Is serving seal meat that offensive?"

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Seal's unsavory – so is this stunt: The Canadian Parliament's decision to sup on seal meat is grounded in politics, not normal dietary habits, says Peter O'Neil in The Vancouver Sun. Seal meat is "not particularly palatable" — the entrée served today even had to be "double-wrapped" in bacon to "kill the taste." That's why "thousands of seal carcasses" are left behind after every annual seal hunt. The politicians' seal-eating was nothing more than an excuse for them to "mug for the cameras."

"Seal 'stunt' akin to 'gastronomic cruelty': seal group"

No one can win this war: When will the battle of "imagery propaganda" end, asks Colin Horgan in the Guardian. The videos of bludgeoned baby seals that animals-rights activists post are just as sensationalist as images of Canadian leaders eating seal. (Last May, Governor-General Michaelle Jean posed for cameras eating raw seal from a carcass at a traditional Inuit ceremony.) What could and should be an "arguably nuanced" debate has devolved into "tit-for-tat" shock tactics.

"Canada's seal debate, dead in the water"

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