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article imageWill European ban on seal products harm free-trade deal?

By Bob Ewing     May 6, 2009 in Politics
Canada's Prime Minister is scheduled to hold free trade talks with European leaders but a ban on seal products may affect those talks.
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper is scheduled to hold a high-profile meeting with European business and political leaders to begin talks on a free trade agreement between Canada and Europe. The talks are scheduled to take place in the Czech Republic.
However, there is a cloud on the horizon that may overshadow the talks. The European Parliament has voted to ban products from the Canadian seal hunt, which EU officials have called cruel and inhumane.
International Trade Minister Stockwell Day has vowed Canada will challenge the ban at the World Trade Organization if necessary. Day is accompanying Harper on this trip.
Day has said that the federal government will not sit idly when the livelihoods of some 6,000 Canadian families and a multimillion-dollar industry are under threat.
The CBC's Tom Parry reporting from Prague said. "What we're hearing from business people here is that they don't want something like that to derail larger negotiations.
Canada wants an exemption under the proposed law, based on what Day said is a humane and environmentally sound seal hunt.
Animal welfare activists are pleased that the ban is moving forward and call it a significant step toward ending Canada's seal hunt.
A final EU vote on the ban is set for the end of June.
More about Seal hunt, Europe, Free trade
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