As a sort of quick postscript to my latest post on the seal hunt, I think it’s worth responding to a suggestion by the CBC’s Michael Hlinka, who writes:
…if the EU chooses to ban Canadian seal products, then Michael Hlinka, at least, will choose to ban European products from his home. And I hope that all Canadians, regardless of what you think about the seal hunt, give the EU legislation just a little bit of thought before making your individual consumption decisions.
Hlinka appears to be calling for at least a limited and informal consumer boycott of European products. I’m as infuriated by the European ban as anybody, but this nevertheless strikes me as an overreaction. Canada and Europe (by which I mean individual European countries, as well as EU institutions) have a complicated, multidimensional, and generally very positive relationship. It would be a mistake to let an irritant like our differences over the seal hunt get blown out of proportion.
I still maintain that we Canadians ought to encourage the sealing industry to develop new markets abroad and to carry out a kind of inverse boycott, which would involve going out of our way to at least experiment with seal products, at home. Perhaps we should call it a girlcott. Aside from fur and leather items, I came across a recipe for a traditional Newfoundland dish, seal flipper pie, that sounds well worth trying. Let such pies grace restaurant menus from sea to shining sea, and let their makings appear in supermarket aisles.
I can confirm from personal experience that girlcotting nations and industries that one feels positively towards is more pleasant and educational than boycotting the annoying ones. As a graduate student in the US, I made a habit of buying alcoholic beverages from countries that did things I approved of. Not every country on Earth was represented at the local liquor store, so the system was decidedly imperfect, but nevertheless it provided my introduction to Greek ouzo, Danish akvavit (I think that was my response to those infamous Mohammed cartoons) and an unusual liqueur or two. Perhaps at least some Canadians from beyond Newfoundland can discover seal flipper pie on the same basis, even if they ultimately have to go a long way east in order to do so.