Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams took on ex-Beatle Paul McCartney and his wife during a heated debate Friday night over the Canadian seal hunt, accusing the high-profile couple of being misinformed and used by some animal rights groups.
"My concern here is that the McCartneys are not completely informed," Williams said during the debate aired on CNN's Larry King Live.
McCartney, who along with his wife Heather Mills McCartney visited seal pups in the Gulf of St. Lawrence Thursday, has joined a tradition of international celebrities seeking to bring pressure on the Canadian and Atlantic provincial governments to stop the centuries-old hunt.
They have called the hunt inhumane and a stain on Canada's reputation.
Williams, who appeared on the last half of the broadcast, immediately challenged Mills McCartney's assertion that most seals are clubbed. In fact, Williams said, 90 per cent are killed by bullet.
He said the hunt is carried out humanely, and that it is supported by scientists, veterinarians and organizations like the UN and the World Wildlife Fund.
Williams argued that the seal population has tripled from two million to 5.8 million. He said if that is allowed to continue the "inhumane consequence of that is that these seals will starve."
Mills McCartney interjected to say that it's completely normal for there to be millions of seals.
McCartney said that in the 1950s and 60s, there was an over culling of the seal population where they dropped to a dangerously low level. Over the last three years, he said, that level of killing is happening again.
"Even though at this moment in time there may be enough seals, the population could drop in the same way as it did in the 50s and 60s," McCartney said.
Williams said only three per cent of the seals have been taken.
The most heated exchanges occurred between Mills and Williams.
When King asked Mills McCartney to respond on the number of seals actually killed by bullets, she replied : "It's just not true. It's complete and absolute rubbish."
Williams repeated that Mills McCartney was incorrect. "I have to set the record straight. I live here and I actually know."
Video of seals being clubbed to death during past hunts was shown several times during the show.
Williams rejected McCartney's premise that no reasonable person who saw footage of the hunt would say it's humane.
Williams said if you go into any slaughterhouse and put white sheets on the floor, "then you're going to see blood. And that's not nice and that's not pleasant."
Williams went on to say that the couple is being used by organizations like the IFAW, Greenpeace and PETA who raise hundreds of millions of dollars. He added that the FBI has terrorist files on these groups.
But Mills McCartney slammed Williams for going off on a tangent.
"Why are you not sticking to the seal hunt? The fact that it's used for fashion, the fact that they are inhumanely killed."
"Why don't you stick to the subject. You're such a politician. You keep going off on irrelevant things."
"This is about propaganda," Williams responded. "This is about using superstars like your husband."
After the debate, Williams said he felt he made inroads.
"They seemed to get defensive at times which I think was good from our perspective because it showed that we were making our points."