Watson defends controversial board member
The leader of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society says he will stand by a board member who has endorsed assassination as a means to save animal life.
FROM APRIL 19, 2005: Violence against sealers OK: activist
Paul Watson, who founded and remains the primary voice of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, says he stands by Jerry Vlasak, who said this week he also supports threats of violence against sealers.
RELATED: Sealers need greater protection: Williams
Reports of Vlasak's comments were enough to prompt Elizabeth May – one of Canada's most prominent environmentalists – to say she will resign an advisory role with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society if Vlasak does not quit.
"I'm deeply shocked … I don't care what somebody is doing, murder is murder," says May, the executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada.
"That is crossing a line that is not only irresponsible and illegal but immoral. And I don't want any part of that," says May, who admits she had not even heard of Vlasak until hearing a CBC Radio report.
Contacted aboard the society's ship Farley Mowat, Watson says he is prepared to lose May as an adviser to his organization if it means retaining Vlasak, a Los Angeles-based physician.
"You ask me to condemn a trauma surgeon, who saves lives, who simply spoke up to expose the hypocrisy in our society … absolutely not," Watson said.
"I would never condemn him. So, if she has a problem with that, that's her choice."
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was involved in a torrent of death threats that were delivered by phone this month against Newfoundlander sealer Ren Genge.
FROM APRIL 6, 2005: RCMP investigate death threats against sealer
An April 2 posting on a blog on the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's website identified Genge's name, mailing address, phone number and even the name of his wife.
The RCMP are investigating the incident.
Watson initially said he had no idea how Genge's personal information was being spread around the world, but later ordered the details to be removed from the society's website.
May says she has known Watson for years, and has not always supported some of the society's policy decisions. She said this revelation, though, is entirely different.
"I've never heard of anybody with any credible organization expressing views like this," she says. "[Watson] should never have put such a person on his board of directors."
Meanwhile, Watson's protest is over for this year. The Farley Mowat passed by the seal hunt off the northeast coast of Newfoundland before heading to the Grand Banks to protest overfishing.
The ship has now left Canadian waters and is sailing to Bermuda.