If the sealing industry won’t bend to pleas from conservationists and anti-sealing groups to call off the annual hunt, will they listen to a million-dollar offer from a cartoon producer and a former Baywatch star?
CBC News reports that philanthropist Sam Simon, better known as a producer of The Simpsons, and Canadian-born actress and anti-sealing activist Pamela Anderson have offered $1-million in cash to Canadian sealers in hopes they will retire and end the annual hunt.
Simon and Anderson planned to make the pledge on Tuesday afternoon at the office of the Canadian Sealers Association in St. John’s.
As previously reported, the offer from Simon and Anderson didn't exactly receive a warm reception from the sealing community.
On Tuesday afternoon, members of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union, which represents sealers, shouted questions at the pair during their news conference outside the CSA offices.
At one point during the press conference, This Hour Has 22 Minutes regular Mark Critch showed up to offer Anderson $1-million to stop acting.
Whatever the initial response from the sealing community, the offer from Simon and Anderson seemed sincere and came with the backing of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) organization.
According to a recent press release from PETA, with whom both Simon and Anderson have a long association, the money would go directly to CSA members if the group “facilitates and achieves a long-buzzed-about government buyout of the failing international seal trade.”
In entertainment circles, Simon, 58, is renowned for developing The Simpsons with creator Matt Groening in the late eighties. Last year, he was diagnosed with terminal colorectal cancer, which lead to him redoubling his efforts in supporting charitable causes, including finding home for abandoned dogs.
Born and raised in Ladysmith, B.C., Anderson worked as a model before vaulting to TV fame on the sitcom Home Improvement, which she followed with higher-profile roles on Baywatch and her own series, V.I.P.
Now 46, Anderson talked to CBC News and said she hopes the cash offer to sealers will be taken seriously.
“A million dollars is a lot of money in Newfoundland,” said Anderson. “And it could go to something really terrific.”
In the course of the TV interview, Anderson was informed that seal populations have increased in recent years, with Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans currently estimating the harp seal population at being in the range of 7.3 million.
“I don’t really know what to say about that,” responded Anderson. “That’s not what I’m aware of. I still don’t think that the seal hunt is appropriate. I think it’s barbaric. There’s no market for it.”
As quoted in the PETA press release, Simon says the $1-million offer is an attempt to circumvent the inevitable red tape that would come if the Canadian government offered a buyout to the sealers.
“Canadian politicians remain too timid to initiate a buyout for fear of upsetting swing voters in Eastern Canada and because they don’t seem to care about individual sealers.”
Which in turn explains why Simon and Anderson are making their pitch directly to the sealers themselves.
“That’s why I’m appealing to you as a trade leader to break the ice and prompt a buyout like those that helped asbestos miners, tobacco farmers and workers in other collapsed industries,” says Simon in the PETA release.
According to the CSA website, the group currently represents more than 6,000 sealers. If each one was allotted an equal share of the $1-million buyout, that would work out to slightly more than $166 apiece.