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Ashley MacIsaac takes on animal rights activists

World-renowned Cape Breton fiddler Ashley MacIsaac confronted PETA protesters in downtown Windsor, Ont., on Friday afternoon. MacIsaac arrived at an anti-fur demonstration alone, unannounced and wearing a muskrat fur coat. He was also carrying a handmade sign reading "I support the Canadian Seal Hunt."

CBC framegrab/CBC framegrab

Over the years, celebrities like Paul McCartney, Pamela Anderson and Martin Sheen have protested the Canadian seal hunt. But sealers are now enjoying the rare thrill of having someone famous rally to their cause.

Fiddler Ashley MacIsaac challenged animal rights activists in Windsor, Ont., on Friday and declared his support for the seal hunt. He was sporting a fur coat and a pink hand-lettered sign, and said many people don't understand what it is like to make a living on the ice.

The Canadian Sealers Association said his brief, one-man counter protest was a boost, and likened it to when former Governor-General Michaƫlle Jean bit into a bloody hunk of raw seal heart on a trip to the North in 2009.

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"It is a welcome sight to see someone recognize how we earn our living and are not afraid to say so. It is part of our history and part of our culture," Frank Pinhorn, executive director of the association, said in an interview from St. John's on Sunday.

"In Newfoundland and Labrador, we have been harvesting seals for 500 years, along with the cod. It is the reason we have settlements here in the first place."

Mr. MacIsaac is from Cape Breton, but now lives in Windsor.

On Friday, two members of PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, dressed up in skimpy police women costumes and handed out fake tickets to people wearing clothes made from fur, leather, wool or exotic animal skins.

They urged people to buy synthetic fabrics and faux fur instead.

Mr. MacIsaac set up his own protest nearby. He said that PETA has a good cause, but he objects to some of their methods. He said he is in favour of the ethical treatment of animals, but that he supports hunting, and backs the seal hunt.

PETA responded Sunday with a statement.

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"It seems that Ashley MacIsaac has chosen to stay in the public eye by speaking out for this costly, dying, and cruel industry, and that is pretty pathetic."

Mr. MacIsaac released a new album earlier this year, called Crossover.

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