"May Day" for the Seal Slaughter on May Day
Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
Founder and President of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Its May Day today and May Day is the international nautical call for distress.
Today is also the day that the case of Her Majesty vs. Sea Shepherd is presented before the court in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
Farley Mowat Captain Alexander Cornelissen from the Netherlands and First Officer Peter Hammarstedt from Sweden will be asked to plead guilty or not guilty to the "heinous" crime of approaching to close to the scene of a mass murder - the murder of hundreds of seals!
You see it's a crime in Canada to witness, film or photograph the killing of a seal. Specifically it's a violation of the "seal protection regulations." Go figure, eh.
But Captain Cornelissen and First officer Hammarstedt will not be in court. Nova Scotian Attorney Guy La Fosse will be representing them. The reason they won't be in court is that both men were ordered deported from Canada and told they could not return.
When asked how they would be able to return for their court date, Immigration Canada answered that it was not their problem. This of course is typical of the way things are run in Canada, the left hand never seems to know what the right hand is doing.
For example a few years ago, when the Farley Mowat was registered under the Canadian flag, there was a Revenue Canada law that stated that as a non-duty paid vessel registered in Canada, the vessel could only enter Canadian waters for two weeks each year and could not have a Canadian resident as Captain. So as a resident of the United States, I took the ship into Canadian waters in March 2005 and found myself charged under a Transport Canada regulation that said that the ship had to have a Canadian resident as Captain.
So in order to abide by one law, I was forced by the law to break another law. So now in order to abide by an immigration order, Alex and Peter are being forced into possibly being charged for jumping bail if they are not allowed into the country.
This may be what the government of Canada wants. A trial will be embarrassing because the evidence will back the position of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society that the Farley Mowat never entered Canadian waters. So one way around this may be for the government to say the men did not appear for their trial.
However we are confident that our attorney will see a way around this hurdle.
The actual trial apparently will not be until April of 2009 at the earliest.
In the meantime, the Canadian government is holding the Farley Mowat under armed guard because they know we have taken our ships back before. They have chained the prop and disabled the engine to ensure that us "eco-pirates" don't commandeer our ship and escape onto the high seas like we did in South Africa in 2006.
They don't want us pulling a Captain Jack Sparrow on them. They've been embarrassed enough already.
But they can rest assured that we will not attempt to cut our ship out of Sydney harbor. We like it where it is. We don't want the Farley Mowat back until this case is resolved. The longer they hold the ship, the more damage will be caused and the more we will be able to sue the government for both damages and losses.
An acquittal of Alex and Peter will mean an automatic release of the ship and without a conviction, Canada will open itself up to a civil suit by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Which is why the Crown prosecutor approached the court asking for Sea Shepherd to post a bond of $50,000 for the release of the Farley Mowat. This is a little unusual considering we did not ask for the release.
We responded to that request with five demands for the condition of the release to us. We will not pay a bond, we want compensation for damages, we want the ship returned in the same condition that it was taken, we want charges against our two officers dropped, and we want an apology from Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Loyola Hearn.
The all black Farley Mowat is appearing more and more like a white elephant to the government and they are beginning to realize that they did not think this matter through entirely. Which is not surprising considering that Loyola Hearn is emulating the role of his hero Wyatt Earp and we all remember what a boondoggle the shoot-out at the OK Corral was when Wyatt and the boys drew first and asked questions later.
It is the government of Canada that is crying "may day" now. They see the writing on the wall. Their scapegoat for their incredible incompetence for mismanaging the fisheries - the harp seal is about to be removed. An up-coming vote by the European Parliament will pull the rug out from under the marketplace for that grisly, gory, and gruesome trade in seal body parts.
Without little seal pup heads to bash in, the fishermen will need to find another target for the frustrations and they may just focus on the government of Canada as the party responsible for their woes. Go figure, eh.
By the way for all of you not from Canada, "Go figure, eh" is a colloquial expression in the Great White North. Yes sir, Canada the true north strong and free where men prove their manliness and strength by kicking baby seals in the face and demonstrate their freedom to skin them alive.
And before anyone goes off on a high horse about me being anti-Canadian, remember that I am about as Canadian as one can get without being a full blooded member of the indigenous peoples of Turtle island.
My family came to the once pristine shores of Eastern Canada in the early 1600's and did their part I'm sure to subjugate nature to the dominance of humanity. My ancestors fought at the battle of Quebec in 1759, against the Americans in 1776 and 1812, and in all the silly wars for God and the Queen or King since.
But there are Canadians whose ancestry goes even further back than the First Nations peoples and those are the once numerous members of hundreds of species who once flourished from coast to coast. And the great nation of seals were one of those nations and when these politicians and media pundits go on about how numerous the seals are, they forget that the seals are now less than 10% of their numbers before those trouble-making European explorers landed on the shores with their guns, bibles, and neurotic obsession to slaughter every damn thing in sight.
Take Newfoundland for example. Five hundred years ago there were walrus on the shore, giant auks on the beach, Labrador ducks in the lakes, Newfoundland wolves and Grizzly bears in the forest, Polar bears on the tundra, Pilot whales sporting in the bays, sea mink in the estuaries and Beothuk people living off the land.
All of the above are gone, wiped out by these invaders who have the audacity to proclaim that they belong, and everyone and everything else does not. It these people today thumping their chest in defense of the slaughter of seals who are really "from away."
The only tribe in Canada exterminated to the last person was the Beothuk, the same people the Vikings encountered a thousand years ago and referred to as skraelings. During the early seventies when the Canadian Constitution was being repatriated from Great Britain, a Newfoundland delegate was caught on tape bragging that at least Newfoundland no longer had an "Indian problem."
Nor do they have a wolf, bear, walrus, auk or sea mink problem either. All those early "Newfoundlanders" have been exterminated by these Johnny-come-latelies who now strut their arrogance in proclaiming they have a God given right to bash in the brains of seals and that Canadian tax-payers should foot the bill for them to do so.
And when there were forty million seals on the shores of Canada there was, believe it or not - no shortage of fish because it was not the seals that wiped out the fish - it was the greed of the fishermen and the incompetence of the Canadian government.
Since I was a boy of ten I have dreamt of a Canada where seals could live their lives unmolested by serial killers and where the heavy black boots and the savage clubs of cigarette smoking goons would no longer assault the great ice nurseries.
If the bill to ban seal products is passed by the European Parliament that dream will be within reach and I will die a happy man knowing that this bit of bloody barbarism will have been abolished from the escutcheon of Canada completely.
So with our ship under seizure, two of my officers on charges, our vessel pilfered after being assaulted by arms in international waters, our documentation of photos and video images seized as "subversive materials" and our organization denounced in the Canadian House of Commons, it is not us that are crying "mayday."
Everything is going just fine with our campaign. It is the government of Canada and their little gang of baby killing goons that are in distress. They will lose this war over the seals and we will see life triumph over death and compassion triumph over cruelty and truth triumph over propaganda.
Meanwhile like jaded generals sending their troops into certain death out of the trenches and across the fields to gain a few metres of blood soaked soil, the Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans will continue to send out flimsy wooden and aluminum hulled vessels to be crushed and sunk in the ice, and he will continue to send ignorant men into the ice, some to die and others to be injured, and he will continue to trample on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in his effort to scapegoat seals and seal defenders for the gross incompetence that the government of Canada has displayed while presiding over the death of the fishing industry.
Go figure, eh.