Harper Government Stands Up for Jobs and Opportunity in Local Communities

Minister Fast reaffirms Canada’s support for sealing industry by highlighting WTO challenge of unjust EU ban on Canadian seal products

(No. 250 - August 31, 2011 – 10:30 a.m. ET) The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, and the Honourable Peter Penashue, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Regional Minister for Newfoundland and Labrador, today toured a seal-pelt tannery and met with sealing industry workers in the St. John’s area.

As part of the effort to reverse the August 2010 European Union ban on trade in seal products, Canada has asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) to examine the matter.

“Our government is firmly committed to defending the livelihoods of hardworking Canadian sealers, and is taking action to maintain and expand market access for Canadian seal products,” said Minister Fast. “The EU ban on Canadian seal products is inconsistent with the EU’s international trade obligations. This is why the Canadian government has initiated a WTO dispute settlement process and why we are moving ahead with our WTO challenge.”

“Sealing is an important part of Canada’s culture, a way of life, and a valuable source of food and income for families in Newfoundland and Labrador and across the country,” said Minister Penashue. “I am proud to be part of a government that strongly believes in the importance of Canadian sealers and is standing up for their right to earn an honest living.”

“The Government of Canada has been a strong supporter of the sustainable use of seal products, from pelts, meat, omega-3 oils to those with other health benefits,” said Rob Cahill, Executive Director of the Fur Institute of Canada. “What many people don’t realize is that seals are at record high numbers in Canadian waters and other places around the world and are of great value and benefit to coastal communities.”

“Sealing is a traditional activity that helps provide jobs in remote coastal communities, where every job counts,” added Minister Fast. “We will continue to stand up for jobs and opportunity in local communities by supporting activities such as sealing that have been an important part of the way of life for many Canadians for centuries.”

For more information on this dispute, please visit the WTO website.

- 30 -

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Rudy Husny
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Ed Fast
Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway
613-992-7332

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-996-2000
Follow us on Twitter: @Canada_Trade