ITK celebrates as European court stalls seal ban
Ban on seal product imports was to take effect August 20
Updated August 20, 2:29 p.m.
A European court suspended the European Union’s proposed seal product ban August 19, just one day before the measure was to take effect.
The European Court of Justice granted a request by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami for an injunction against the ban.
The court ruled the ban should not come into effect while Canadian opponents of the ban—including ITK, hunters and trappers groups from Nunavut and Greenland, and fur industry representatives—fight the measure in European courts.
“This decision is clear evidence that the EU Court is very much aware of the seriousness and principled nature of the fundamental objections of Inuit and other plaintiffs to this very unjust law,” said ITK president Mary Simon in a news release.
Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak said she was delighted by news of the decision and hopes the decision is the first step towards overturning the band altogether.
“It’s great news for all Nunavummiut,” she said in an interview. “Their wish is coming true. I hope they (the EU) outright drop it.”
Speaking in St. John’s, federal fisheries minister Gail Shea hailed news the ban would be suspended.
“This is a positive development,” she said. “The European courts have concluded that the Inuit have a right to be heard and the status quo will be maintained until they have been granted that hearing.”
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters in New Brunswick that Canada would seek a World Trade Organization panel review of the proposed ban. Canada has suggested the ban would violate international trade rules.
“The government is very strongly in opposition to this decision of Europe,” Harper said after making an unrelated announcement in New Brunswick. “This is flagrant discrimination against the Canadian seal industry — against Canadian sealers — an industry of modest means that employs people who work hard.”
But the European Commission expressed confidence that the ban on seal product imports will withstand Canadian legal challenges.
In a news release, the commission said the ban balances “concerns expressed by EU citizens” with Europe international trade obligations and the “fundamental economic and social interests of Inuit.”
Not so, said ITK’s Simon.
“In our view, the seal ban is both illegal and immoral. Although we are not sure what future action the EU court will take in this case, I welcome the current decision by the court to stop the implementation of the ban as scheduled,” Simon said.
“I can only hope that the EU court will determine that the ban and its so-called Inuit exemption are illegal. That would be a fitting conclusion to this totally unjustified action by the European Parliament.”
Earlier this year, Nunavut MLAs passed a motion barring the Nunavut Liquor Commission from stocking European-made alcohol as a protest against the EU ban.
With files from Postmedia News