Letters to the Editor – March 3, 2010

RE: Liberals want abortion and contraceptives included in G8 health initiative

The exclusion of contraception and abortion in an initiative aimed at improving women and children’s health is tragically ironic. This motion is a pathetically unambiguous reflection of Conservative Christian beliefs. In fact, women’s health and maternal health are not exclusive and offering reproductive autonomy is critical in maintaining female wellbeing. The implementation of contraceptive education and provision should be reason enough as it directly improves quality of life by reducing the spread of HIV and STIs. Moreover, households in many developing countries do not have the economic capability to support additional children. By offering contraception, we are providing measures to counteract this overpopulation. In addition, it is a misconception that abortions cannot improve a child’s health. There are overwhelming health challenges faced by mothers and their fetuses during pregnancies. Often in these cases, abortion is the only preventative method that decreases both child morbidity and maternal mortality. Furthermore, without sufficient funds, women will continue to seek covert operations that offer unsafe abortions. This will ultimately contribute to the rising concern of infections and deaths. The negligence of the Harper government lies in their insistence that their ideology be imposed on others, at the expense of essential health care.

– Elena Shen
University of Western Ontario

RE: Animal rights activism gone awry (Feb. 22, 2010)

I was happy to see that the pieing of Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea spurred discussion about the cruel seal slaughter.

Ms. Shea not only defends but celebrates the seal slaughter, in which seals are bludgeoned, shot at point-blank range, and often skinned alive for their fur. Even while publicly admitting that she has never observed the killings in person, she claims these barbaric practices to be “humane.”

Unlike Ms. Shea, PETA does not advocate or carry out actions in which someone could be injured. This harmless, vaudevillian stunt—in which a caring activist and mother lobbed a tofu cream pie at a politician—grabbed headlines, bringing the seals’ plight to the attention of audiences around the world. Throwing pies is theatrics; slaughtering seals is violence.
Canada’s image will be tainted as long as the seal slaughter exists and the country continues to allow cruelty to animals on a massive scale. If Canadian politicians don’t want to see animal activists showing up at their speaking events and protesting at the Olympics in Vancouver, they must end this universally condemned massacre.

The hunt is not even profitable to Canadian taxpayers. The commercial seal slaughter, which accounts for 97 percent of seals killed each year, is not a longstanding subsistence trade; it is a case study in government waste. Canada spends C$7 million in taxpayer money every year subsidizing the massacre through Coast Guard support, pro-sealing campaigns, and travel. Millions more are spent on research and market development in behalf of the industry. But profit from the slaughter barely exceeded C$1 million in 2009, and in Newfoundland, this income accounts for less than a fraction of 1 percent of the economy.

PETA is determined to stop animal suffering, and we will continue to speak out, run ads, involve celebrities, and publicize videos and photographs to make our point. The situation is critical, and some activists will use tactics that some people find outrageous or offensive. But the seals can only thank anyone who grabs people’s attention. For change to come, someone must stir things up.

Drew Winter
College Campaigns Assistant