Gov. Gen. eats seal heart; called "Sarah Palin of Canada"
Published Tuesday, May 26, 2009 7:49PM EDT
Canada's Governor General is getting mixed reactions after she gutted a seal and took a bite of its heart in a show of solidarity with Inuit hunters who are facing serious restrictions after the European Union voted to adopt a ban on seal products earlier this month.
Michaelle Jean is currently visiting the arctic. On Monday, as part of her visit to Rankin Inlet, in Nunavut, she used a traditional blade to slice open the dead seal, and took a bite of its heart.
"It was absolutely delicious," she said, as hundreds of people looked on in the auditorium.
She also indicated she was disappointed the traditional, generations-old Inuit seal hunt would be considered inhumane.
"Take from that what you will," she said when asked if her actions were an intentional message to Europe.
The event and her comments are against the backdrop of the recent vote by the European Union to ban products from the seal hunt, even those from non-commercial, small scale operations.
While the law needs to be made official by the EU governments, it is expected to take effect in October. The ban would include all seal products including oil, fur, meat, fat and omega-3 pills made from seal oil.
The bill does include slim exceptions for Inuit communities, but would disallow them large-scale trading of seal goods in Europe.
One anti-seal hunt activist based in Brussels said she was not pleased with the incident.
"It's just a sad and quite a desperate attempt by the Canadian government to blur again the distinction between the different seal hunts," said Barbara Slee, an anti-seal hunt campaigner at the International Fund for Animal Welfare's Brussels office.
Some officials were less forthcoming.
"No comment. It's too bizarre to acknowledge," said Barbara Helfferich, a spokeswoman for EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas.
And still, one sealer had a chuckle before offering his commentary.
"That's great stuff," said Jack Troake, a sealer from Newfoundland. "I hope the lady realizes that she's got herself into a hell of a mess. You've got some of these environmentalists that are going to jump on her, but I think she's strong enough. She can take that, I think."
Gawker, the well-known pop-culture and politics blog from the United States, has called her "The Sarah Palin of Canada."
Palin is the Governor of Alasaka, and was the much-mocked Republican vice presidential running mate in the 2008 American elections.
With files from the Canadian Press.