The environmentalist Canadian Green Party has come under fire this week due to comments made by a federal party council member named Robert Miller after he called an anti seal hunt group “douche bags” on Twitter for opposing the Canadian seal hunt.
The incident occurred on February 10th, 2012 and targeted a group called Friends For Seals who actively oppose the yearly Canadian seal hunt on the east coast of Canada. The comment struck a chord instantly with many different animal activist groups and set off several days of conflict between Green Party leader Elizabeth May and outraged animal rights activists.
An immediate apology was demanded from Robert Miller which did not happen until two days following his original post, but when it came it left many of those angered in the first place with a bitter taste in their mouths, as it was seen as passive and insincere.
In response to the verbal attack against Friends For Seals an online petition was started by the Global Animal Welfare Development Society calling for the resignation of Robert Miller, which prompted yet another Green Party council member to step into the arena and try to pressure GAWDS to end their petition. According to a report by Examiner.com, federal Green Party council member Camille Labchuk contacted Brad Anthony, CEO of GAWDS and attempted to persuade him to end his petition.
Brad Anthony then reached out to inform Montreal Animal Advocacy Examiner that after only 60 signatures in the petition a member of the Green Party contacted him to ask as a “personal favor” and to close down the petition due to the fact that there was no point to it. Brad Anthony, disclosed to Montreal Animal Advocacy Examiner a chat conversation with Camille Labchuk.
According to her personal site, Ms. Labchuk is the Green Party federal councilor for Ontario, a Vegan for life, Political junkie and a Law student. After she discussed with Brad Anthony the reasons why the petition and the twitter comments should end, she made it clear that what activists are doing is just hurting the Green Party and gives opponent parties “ammunition” for an attack.
Ms Labchuk insisted in her conversation that no one has the power to remove Mr. Miller and suggested that by activists taking action and voicing their discontent with Miller only hampered any efforts from the party to get the situation with Miller under control.
Brad Anthony disagreed with Ms.Labchuk and informed her that he would not back down the campaign of asking Miller to step down. He then told Ms Labchuk that it was imperative for him to leave the Party if he did not agree with the Green campaign promises.
In response to the attack by Robert Miller on Friends For Seals, the Green Party simply Tweeted out their anti seal hunt policy and stated that “The Green Party is a grassroots party, and the party ethic, culture and rules is not top-down. The party allows for differences of opinion among our members. The leader is not empowered to rein people in. Robert has apologized and retracted his offensive comments.”
However, when questioned about whether or not anyone from the Green Party had contacted the GAWDS organization to try and pressure them to take down their petition, representatives of the party categorically denied that this had ever happened.
A request for comment was sent to Brad Anthony of GAWDS about this counter claim and denial, and he replied with the following statement.
Suffice it to say; unfortunately for the GPC they’re not dealing with amateurs – we monitor and record everything as any agency of repute would do by default. If they continue their current charade they may have to consider re-branding to the Gray Party of Canada. Hard evidence exists in several formats – and it may end up in the hands of mainstream media – but that remains to be seen at this time.
When emailed several times to reply to this claim, Nyssa McLeod, official aide to Green Party leader Elizabeth May, did not reply.
The GreenParty did release an official statement from Robert Miller, but given his continued support for the seal hunt and vocal opposition against seal advocates on Twitter, the words have fallen flat with activists around the globe.
I would like to reaffirm my commitment to the Green values which set a high standard for our conduct. It is in accordance with these principles—including a participatory democracy—that I advocate for quality and wholesomeness of our local foods and products. Unfortunately my comment—directed toward an individual—did not meet those ideals. I equally support all forms of sustainable harvests without the use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, growth hormones, non-therapeutic antibiotics, and insecticides. Furthermore, I expect those harvests to allow animals to live without undue stress and in conditions where they are able to exercise normal behaviours. Although my use of slang terminology was intended to underscore those beliefs, it was offensive and disrespectful to that person. As such, I wish to restate my prior apology, offered to that individual on February 12th, and retract that statement.
Although Robert Miller gave what many are calling a scripted apology with little true intention, the leadership of the Green Party of Canada has stood behind Miller’s statement by not actively denouncing it or speaking out against it.
Within Canada, the topic of the seal hunt is an extremely hot button issue that has and will continue to cost the careers of Canadian politicians in the future who speak too far for or against it, however, activists are pointing a finger at the Green Party, who is deemed as Canada’s last hope for ecological and environmental equality, to take a firm stand against what they consider a barbaric and outdated practice.
Although the Green Party of Canada has an official mandate to oppose the Canadian seal hunt, it seems as though to many, that it is still under the same pressure to tread lightly on this issue for the sake of votes and party support as the rest of the political parties in Canada choose to bend to.
A petition calling for the resignation of Robert Miller, can be found by clicking here and is open to animal rights advocates from around the world to sign and make their voices heard.