The European ban on seal products is sparking a new battle between Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Harper, in Prague Wednesday for trade talks with European Union officials said he will defend the seal hunt but added he wouldn't allow the controversy to "contaminate" trade talks and risk a multibillion-dollar free trade deal.
"If we were to make our trade relations with the European Union about only the sealing issue, we will never have any trading relations with the European Union because as we know this is a disagreement of long-standing," Harper said at a news conference.
The news quickly made its way to Newfoundland and Labrador's legislature, the Confederation Building, and the ears of Williams.
"I wonder if he would feel the same if it was an Alberta beef issue, if it was a softwood lumber issue or if it was a wheat issue," Williams said.
The premier said he wants the seal hunt to be at the forefront of any talks with Europe, and fighting the ban in front of trade tribunals isn't enough.
"You know he's prepared to sacrifice Newfoundland and Labrador's interest in the interests of other issues for Canadians. And I think that's just dead wrong and it shows what this guy is all about," he said.
Williams said if Harper won't flex any muscles, then he will — although he wouldn't say exactly what that means.