William Shatner is boldly going where he has never gone before - into the thick of the federal election campaign.
In a letter released this week by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Montreal-born actor calls on Stephen Harper to put an end to the annual Canadian seal hunt.
Timed to coincide with the deadline for filing federal income tax returns, the letter outlines some of the federal funds that Mr. Shatner alleges goes toward supporting the seal trade. "Citizens from coast to coast are being hammered by the harmonized sales tax, property taxes continue to soar, and inflation is driving away investment," the letter reads. "A study in 2010 at Canada's University of Guelph found that ending the commercial slaughter would save Canada at least $7 million each year."
Mr. Shatner blames the hunt's continuation on the fight for control of the House of Commons. "At a time of massive budget cuts in Canada, when many Canadians are struggling just to pay their bills, the government continues to defend this dying industry because both the Conservative and Liberal parties crave the region's seven swing seats in Parliament," the letter reads.
Of the seven Newfoundland seats in the House of Commons, only one - the riding of Avalon - appears to be a genuine battleground. Six are currently held by the Liberals, and one by the NDP. In February, the Conservative government said it would appeal the European Union's ban on trade in Canadian seal products through the World Trade Organization.
Mr. Shatner, a noted animal lover who raises horses on a farm he owns in Kentucky, has supported a number of PETA projects in the past, including a public service announcement on behalf of abandoned pets.
It was not immediately clear how much time Mr. Shatner spends in Canada, but as a long-time resident of Los Angeles it is unlikely that he has been eligible to vote in a Canadian federal election for many decades. In a recent interview with the Canadian Press leading up to his hosting of the Genie Awards last month, Mr. Shatner admitted to being unfamiliar with the leading contenders for the film honours but was looking forward to the show because it, "keeps me in touch with Canada."