Seal Hunt Resolution

In his letter to the editor (Tri-City News Online, May 22) regarding a recent parliamentary resolution for our Olympic athletes to wear seal products as a statement against the EU ban on seal products, Neil Swanson’s assertion that; “the fact that our MPs spent the time to debate and pass this bill is such hypocrisy, waste and a joke on a global scale” is not at all borne out in his argument.

The seal hunt is a contentious matter for many, of course, both in Canada and elsewhere, and I would therefore counsel against any parliamentary resolution that would attempt to make the wearing of seal products by our athletes a requirement, rather than a personal option. But we must also recognize that the seal hunt is an important livelihood for many maritime Canadians, and many aboriginal Canadians in particular.

So while the hunt itself is a fair matter of debate for the foreseeable future, I see no hypocrisy nor any joke in our Canadian parliament attempting at this time to address this significant threat to the livelihood of affected Canadians.

Mr. Swanson’s cynical comments regarding MP remuneration and the number days that parliament sits, also show a vast confusion about what MPs actually do, and this misunderstanding would seem to be the ‘joke’ that he sees in this.

The number of days sitting is just the tip of the iceberg of what MPs do.

To start, days that parliament sits are typically not 8-hour work-days — they begin early and often go well into the evening. In addition, MPs also work on parliamentary committees; they investigate issues and complaints both while in Ottawa and while working in their constituency offices; they assist constituents in addressing difficulties in dealings with the federal departments and agencies; they lobby for solutions to problems; they research, develop, and analyze legislation. They also commit considerable time to community functions as a consequence of their roles as MPs. And then of course there’s travel-time: frequent travel between Ottawa and the various constituencies, as well as other parliament-related travel both home and abroad.

It’s not a small commitment. It adds up to a lot of time and a lot of effort, and exacts a high toll on personal and family time.

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