Madam Chair, this is an extremely important debate and one for which I have been on my feet many times in the House, as well as many of the other members here tonight.
Several times we have gone off on partisanship and partisan rants and I do not see any reason to stray from that. There is a couple of places where the record needs to be corrected. I have been listening to my Liberal colleagues say that somehow this happened since 2006. I have been here since 1997 and we worked hard to bring this to the fisheries committee and to the House but it did not happen. It did not happen in 2000 nor in 2001. We worked hard to have the voice of the sealers in Atlantic Canada heard in the Parliament of Canada, and it was not easy. It happened because of goodwill from every party here, primarily from the fish committee. That is a fact.
We just cannot say that the Tories took power in 2006, that this is an issue and what will we do. It is not that simple. This is a very complex issue. It is like saying that if the Liberals had stayed in government, we would not have global warming. It is like saying that if the Liberals had stayed in power, we would not have a global recession. We know that is nonsense. Trying to blame the intervention by the European Union on this government is the same thing.
I was here in 2006 as chair of the fish committee and I will tell the House about the Liberal record. In 2006, when we formed the government, up to that point there had never been a coordinated meeting, not one meeting, by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans or the Department of Foreign Affairs. The hon. member for Central Nova was the minister of foreign affairs at the time and he helped coordinate the first meeting ever between Fisheries and Oceans, Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Indian Affairs and Northern Development. It needed to be done and it was the right thing to do.
It was the same way when the former minister of fisheries appointed Loyola Sullivan as the international ambassador for fisheries. It needed to be done. Mr. Sullivan has in turn visited all 27 countries in the European Union and lobbied every one of those members on this issue. That does not mean the issue was solved or that we won the battle, but we did our job and we will continue to do our job, which means finding allies where we can find allies, and that means intelligent, rational debate in the House.
I was with one of the former Liberal ministers of fisheries at the NAFO meeting and I did not hear one word about seals. I do not think it should be blame the Liberals, blame the Tories or blame the NDP because they did not do enough or blame the Bloc Quebecois. We will defend Canada's interest. The Prime Minister, whether the opposition happens to like it or not, is the first Prime Minister to defend Canada's interest in sealing on the high seas when we arrested the Farley Mowat last year. It should have been done long ago but it was done.
We have defended Canada's interest in the European Union. One of the members opposite and myself were at the European Parliament and met with the committee on the environment. It was pretty tough sledding. I am not telling members that it was easy. They did not want to hear us. They did not want to have an intelligent, rational debate because they would lose if they had an intelligent, rational debate about the maintenance of the hunt and the sustainability of the hunt. They do not have any credibility on that issue and they know we are credible on that issue. That is where we need to continue to keep this.
Let us look at the European record on large animals. Several countries in Europe have a big game hunt. They have the worst record of any country in the world on a big game hunt with the most lost animals of any countries in the world with the big game hunt. They kill millions of muskrats every year in the Netherlands but no one cares if they are clubbed, trapped, poisoned or drowned. They just care that they are killed.
The Liberal member has said several times that 35,000 seals were killed. He is absolutely correct; 35,000 seals in Sweden and that is not counting the cull. That is not counting the cull in Iceland or in Europe, and it is not counting the unreported kills by the rest of the European Union members. These guys do not have a very good record on animal welfare.
I have been aboard the Louis S. St -Laurent at the front. We have witnessed the seal hunt close up and personal. It is absolutely correct. There is red blood on white ice and white snow. It is a great graphic picture but who are the real guilty culprits? I will name the name. It is Rebecca Aldworth, the head of the American Humane Society. She is the one who needs to be called to task. Her group took a seal that was drowning, which is a humane death, choking and bubbling on its own blood and pulled it out of the ice so they could film it dying a slow, suffering death. That is the American Humane Society. That is what we are dealing with here. That is reality.
If people do not want to agree with that, they should go find out the facts for themselves. Raoul Jomphe , the cinematographer from Quebec, was on the ice when that occurred and recorded that. He recorded the American Humane Society pulling this animal out of the water and breaking the laws of this land.
The Minister of International Trade has forwarded this cause. The Prime Minister has forwarded this cause. We are at a very difficult place right now. We know the Europeans have broken international trade laws. We know they have 60 days of consultation. We know there is a process going forward.
However, I must say that suggesting that we stop negotiations with the European Union on a free trade agreement at this time is somehow moving in the right direction, it is not. The way to deal with the EU is to keep it at the table, keep this up front and personal in front of it and keep the issue moving. However, if we stop talking, then we have to start all over. A lot of good work has been done by all members of the House on this very difficult and controversial issue, not for us in Canada because we have been educated.
Quite frankly, the members of the fish committee, who do stellar work on this issue, are still educating the members of the House. It was not all agreement when we started. It was not all agreement within the parties but we did our work as committee members and had all our parties on board. It did not come easily.
I forget which member said it but I commend the member for saying that it was the hypocrisy of this decision by the European Union. We have six million seals in the north Atlantic. We can debate whether it is 5.5 million or 6.5 million but here are a lot of seals and they do not eat turnips. If they did and we could somehow get them in a net, we could fly them over to Paris, Copenhagen, London or Rome and drop them. When they would see these seals coming up the streets on the Champs-Élysées, it would be interesting to see the reaction of the Europeans at that time.
In closing, and in all seriousness, I worked in the offshore fisheries for eight years from 1980-88. When we went out to Sable Island and that area in 1980, we used to land a fixed wing on the beach, go across to the helipad and get a chopper to the rig. I was on the Island 30 or 40 times and there were dozens of seals in 1980 and the spits were black with seals in 1988. That was the grey seal herd.