Williams assails anti-sealing activist Watson as 'terrorist'
Premier calls for all-out ban on activists at seal hunt
Last Updated: Monday, April 14, 2008 | 10:09 AM NT
- CBC reporter Jane Adey speaks with Premier Danny Williams (Runs: 3:43)
- Play: Real Media »
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams has described provocative anti-sealing activist Paul Watson as a "terrorist."
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams says he has little time for anti-sealing activist Paul Watson.
Watson, whose Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel Farley Mowat was seized Saturday, has described the incident involving his foreign-registered ship as "an act of war" and "an act of piracy."
But Williams said Watson — who earlier this month described sealers as "sadistic baby-killers" — deserves no sympathy.
"Ever since I've been aware of him, I've always considered Paul Watson to be, you know, a vile, disgusting excuse for a human being," Williams told CBC News Sunday, as Watson was arriving in Nova Scotia to help bail out the skipper and first officer of the ship.
"I think what a lot of people don't realize is that this man is a terrorist, in fact, you know, to come out with the insensitive remarks, for example, that he came out with a few weeks ago, when these sealers lost their lives and he put their lives below animal lives," Williams said.
Watson sparked an uproar earlier this month when he said that while the deaths of four Quebec sealers was a tragedy, "the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of seal pups is an even greater tragedy."
Watson defended the remarks — which prompted Green party Leader Elizabeth May to resign an honorary post with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society — and said, "I'm here to rock the boat, to make waves, to make people think, you know, to provoke."
Williams applauded the federal government for apprehending the Farley Mowat, and said he would like to see even stricter rules at the seal hunt next year, so that protesters would not be allowed near the ice.
Paul Watson has described sealers as 'sadistic baby-killers.'
The Canadian government does not agree with that view, although it does impose limits on how close activists and observers can approach sealers.
The federal government maintains that the Farley Mowat broke the law during a confrontation with a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker two weeks ago in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, after the annual harp seal hunt had opened.
Williams noted that Iceland — a target of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society over whaling — has banned the organization at its ports, and that fishermen in St-Pierre-Miquelon chased Watson's ship away.
"Other countries are recognizing that these people are dangerous and they're not welcome, and I'm delighted that Canada is finally doing the same thing," Williams said.
Residents of sealing community cheer arrest
Meanwhile, reaction Sunday to the seizure of the Farley Mowat was strong on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula, one of the areas most heavily dependent on the annual hunt.
"It's about time to do something with him, before somebody gets hurt," said John Anderson, a Trout River resident.
"Perfect — I wish I'd been there to help them," said neighbour George Crocker.
Jean Brake, another Trout River resident, said sealers at the hunt should be left alone.
"He comes over here and interferes with that. People make a living from that fishery," she said.
"They should be allowed to do it in a civil manner."
Most of the activity involving anti-sealing groups occurs in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where conditions make it easier for opponents to walk on pack ice and approach sealers. In that area of the hunt, many sealers use hakapiks, or long hooked clubs, to kill seals. The hunt off much of Newfoundland occurs at sea, where most sealers use rifles to kill seals.
'Phoque- you Paul Watson'
Meanwhile Monday, people on the Îles de la Madeleine also had a message for Watson: "Phoque-you." Phoque is the French word for seal.
"It's a play on words," explained Luc Régimbald, who crafted a T-shirt and petition with the message. More than 2,300 people have signed the petition, which Régimbald took to the local mall over the weekend.
Régimbald said he was inspired to create the shirt after hearing Watson say that killing seals was a bigger tragedy than the loss of four sealers on the ship L'Acadien II in March. The men were being towed behind a Canadian Coast Guard vessel when the ship capsized.
Régimbald said he wasn't worried about the tone of the message on the shirts and the petition, which did stop some people from signing on to his campaign.
"It can't be as rude as the comment he gave on the four losses we suffered — it can't be as rough as that," he said, adding that he hoped Watson would realize it's "inconceivable" to compare the seal hunt to a tragedy that took four lives.
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