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Ottawa takes EU seal ban to World Trade Organization
Action will 'complement' Inuit suit: Simon

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Tuesday, February 15, 2011

NUNAVUT - The federal government is challenging the European Union's ban on Canadian seal products at the World Trade Organization, Federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea announced last week.

Ottawa stated consultations with the WTO failed to resolve the matter so it is asking the international organization to set up a dispute settlement panel on the issue.

"Taking the European Union to the World Trade Organization is important for the Inuit," John Duncan, minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, stated in a press release. "Inuit who live in isolated communities where economic opportunities are very limited depend on the seal hunt to maintain their culture and quality of life. I hope this process will cast meaningful light on this unjust and unnecessary legislation."

Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq stated the challenge is meant to protect the right of Inuit to sell products harvested from their traditional, sustainable seal hunt.

"The European Union's exemption for trade in traditional Inuit and Aboriginal seal products is not effective, particularly in the face of a larger market collapse," stated Aglukkaq in a press release.

National Inuit Leader Mary Simon praised the federal government for taking action on the EU seal ban legislation at the WTO.

" The WTO actions taken by the Government of Canada do not hinder our legal actions and I would argue they will complement our litigation," she stated in a press release.

The federal government actions are in addition to the legal action launched by Canadian and Greenlandic Inuit to annul the seal ban regulation and seek an interim injunction while the main case proceeds.

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