Getting to the raw heart of things in Canadian politics

Any public officeholder who reads the article below, gleaned from the Canwest News Service, is hereby barred from whining about the hazards of the rubber chicken circuit:

Canada's governor general, Michaelle Jean, with a bite of fresh seal heart/Associated Press

Canada's governor general, Michaelle Jean, with a bite of fresh seal heart/Associated Press

Canada’s Governor General began her Arctic tour by gutting a freshly slaughtered seal, pulling out its heart and eating it raw, according to media reports.

Michaelle Jean, the Queen’s representative to the country, did it as a gesture of solidarity with the country’s beleaguered seal hunters, the reports said, adding that Jean expressed dismay that people would call the traditional hunting practices inhumane.

After eating the heart during a stop in Nunavut’s Rankin Inlet, Jean wiped her blood-soaked fingers with a tissue.

On Tuesday, Jean arrives in Kugluktuk, Nunavut.

It’s the tissue that makes the story. The BBC elaborated on the economic angle, and the fact that the governor-general found the experience “delicious:”

Ms Jean used a traditional Inuit knife to help gut the animal then ate a slice of raw heart.

It came weeks after the [European Union] voted to ban Canadian seal products, but Ms Jean did not say if her actions were in response to the EU proposals.

An EU spokeswoman said the story was “too bizarre to acknowledge”….

Asked later if her actions were a message to the EU, [Jean] said: “Take from it what you will.”

So somebody call up Sonia Sotomayor and tell her that there are worse gauntlets to run than an appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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9 comments Add your comment

sane jane

May 26th, 2009
10:11 pm

It would be helpful to know if the manner by which she gutted & ate the seal was consistent with local practice. If so, too gross for my taste but I’m not judging.

But neither the Beeb nor our intrepid blogger could bother to provide this sorta Journalism 101 question not asked.

Guess I’ll trot off on my merry way & find out for myself. Thanks, professional journalists!

sane jane

May 26th, 2009
10:19 pm

Google Alan Panetta, Canadian Press for a better, more researched story. Turns out it *is* how they roll & the gesture was apparently a show of solidarity.

Whether right or wrong, the fact is that it was a deliberate act. Not an act of bloodlust or alleged bout of the crazies as implied here and in the BBC piece.

Panetta’s piece was well-researched and thoughtful. Omitting that perspective & those considerations are troubling. Going just for the gore or the weird is bad journalism.

sane jane

May 26th, 2009
10:23 pm


My bad.

Hal Kent

May 27th, 2009
6:16 am

Politicians will do anything for votes.


May 27th, 2009
7:03 am

The Inuit have community feasts quite often and when they get a rare opportunity of a visit from someone like the Gov Gen they put on their best. Yes, the Inuit do eat raw meat, maybe not as much as they did a generation ago but they still do and try to keep other traditions alive as well. No greater honor can a visitor bestow on their hosts than to sit down and partake of the same foods that they eat. There’s nothing disgusting or cruel about it as HSUS and PETA will try to beat into your heads. This is how the Inuit survived for thousands of years in the North, they are the only people on the planet who can survive on a diet of meat alone. To insult them and anyone who joins them in their traditions shows the urban ignorance that Animal Rights Groups love to play up to in order to collect those donations that ends up being their personal income.


May 27th, 2009
7:05 am

Oh, by the way Hal…the Gov Gen is not a politician.


May 27th, 2009
8:24 am

Right Newfie2,The Governor General is an appointed post.No votes involved.She’s the Queen’s representative.The Queen’s take on this would be interesting.


May 27th, 2009
8:36 am

Man… Every time you start thinking the Canadians are decent, civilized people you see some wacky sh** like this.

The seal hunters are “beleagured” for their “traditional” inhuman practices? Awww, poor babies. Maybe they should consider a line of work that actually has value.


May 27th, 2009
8:42 am

I was once lucky enough to get to go seal hunting. I got 2 adults and 7 babies. The baby seal’s fir is more highly prized. Because I am a sportsman, I hunted the traditional way. The baby seal will approach you if you are sitting by an open can of sardines. Then you clumb them. After about my third seal, I was able to dispatch them with only one or two hits. I never ate any hearts though.