HSUS: While most Canadians oppose the commercial seal hunt, the Canadian government defends it as an important tradition. Do you think tradition can justify the commercial slaughter of seals or any other animal?
JMC: One might as well argue that because Canada used to hang convicted murderers by the neck until they were dead the tradition should not be allowed to disappear. Sealing in Canada is not a tradition, it is just an unenlightened, outdated practice.
HSUS: Millions of people—including a number of prominent authors such as Farley Mowat, Timothy Findlay, Michael Ondaatje, Barbara Gowdy and yourself—have spoken out against Canada’s commercial seal hunt. What is it about this slaughter that provokes such strong reactions from the public?
JMC: In the first place, baby seals are highly photogenic. In the second place, they are entirely helpless and haven’t the faintest idea of what is about to happen to them. In the third place, even the hardest-hearted among us has private reservations about killing creatures that have barely tasted the sweetness of life. In the fourth place, the people who do the killing are very unappealing, very unphotogenic.