An effort by a Liberal senator to effectively ban the East Coast seal hunt was dealt a fatal blow Tuesday when not a single colleague could be found to second his motion.

Senator Mac Harb, a former MP from Ottawa named to the upper chamber in 2003, tried to put forward a bill to cancel the traditional hunt for everyone except aboriginal hunters with treaty rights.

But his effort was met with silence.

Some of Harb's colleagues who have spent over two decades in the Senate said they couldn't recall the last time a bill failed to find a seconder.

Gerry Byrne, a Liberal MP from Newfoundland, said the lack of support for cancelling the seal hunt should send a clear message to the European Union, which appears likely to support a ban on importing most seal products.

Byrne said even if parliamentarians disagree with a bill, they'll often rise to second it out of respect for a colleague. But he said opposition to banning the hunt is so complete that nobody even wanted to discuss Harb's bill.

The Conservatives have been using Harb's proposed bill to try to score political points against the Liberals. During Tuesday's question period, they referred to it several times, casting it as a Liberal attack on rural Canada.

They also issued a release condemning the proposal.

With files from the Canadian Press