What does leadership transition mean for WSPA?

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2008:
LONDON, MONTREAL–Whatever future
direction the World Society for the Protection of
Animals takes, it will not be for much longer
under Peter Davies, the WSPA director general
since September 2002.
ANIMAL PEOPLE on July 17, 2008 obtained
a copy of a WSPA document entitled “Chief
Executive Search,” which WSPA board members have
apparently distributed to prospective applicants.
Stating that “The current Director General is due
to retire from office in June 2009,” the
document outlines the qualifications that the
WSPA board hopes to find in potential successors.
Among 15 enumerated attributes of “an
ideal chief executive,” according to the “Chief
Executive Search” criteria, only two even
mention animal advocacy.
Point #9 is that the “ideal chief
executive” will “have a developed belief in
animal advocacy and citizen involvement in the
public arena as a force for change.”

Point #15 is that the “ideal chief
executive” will “genuinely believe in the cause
of animal welfare and the work of WSPA
(experience in animal welfare is not a
prerequisite, but would be an asset).”
“Expressions of interest should be in
English and forwarded by e-mail,” the document
stipulates, to WSPA board president Dominique
Bellemare and WSPA board secretary Peter Mason.
Bellemare, elected to the WSPA board
presidency on June 5, 2008, is a Montreal
attorney and Conservative Party of Canada
candidate for Parliament. His campaign web site
when ANIMAL PEOPLE went to press appeared to make
no mention of his involvement with WSPA, but
endorsed pro-sealing and pro-fur Conservative
prime minister Stephen Harper.
Mason heads the Royal New Zealand SPCA.
WSPA annual revenues approximately
doubled during Davies’ tenure, from about $17
million per year to $34 million. Program
spending increased proportionately. The number
of WSPA member societies doubled, to more than
850, representing 144 nations. WSPA was
restructured during Davies’ tenure to make London
the head office for the 10 WSPA subsidiaries and
two affiliates worldwide.
In addition, Davies in 2004 announced
the first major evolution in WSPA philosophy
since WSPA was formed in 1981 by merging the
World Federation for the Protection of Animals,
founded in 1953, and the International Society
for the Protection of Animals, founded in 1959.
Instead of advocating the traditional
catch-and-kill approach to dog and cat population
control, WSPA followed the direction of most
other major humane organizations to “advocate a
combination of extensive neutering/spaying,
rehoming, education into responsible pet
ownership, and compulsory registration.”
This change immediately preceded several
years of rapid acquisition of new member
societies whose leaders had perceived the old
WSPA position as obsolete.
Davies’ successor as director general
will inherit a much stronger and more influential
organization–but whether it will uphold the same
values after the impending change of leadership
appears to be by no means assured.
The earliest World Society for Protection
of Animals campaign packet that ANIMAL PEOPLE has
on file, mailed more than 20 years ago, was
headlined “Fur: A Moral Issue.”
The WSPA position statements pertaining
to fur and sealing, then and now, were that
“WSPA is opposed to the taking from the wild of
animals for their fur or skins, and to the
farming of animals for the same purpose. It
considers it morally indefensible to subject
animals to suffering and death for fur or skin
products, which are non-essential luxury goods.
WSPA is opposed to the manufacture, sale,
possession and use of any snares and traps which
cause suffering or death….WSPA opposes, on
both ethical and humane grounds, the harassment,
capture or killing of marine mammals for
commercial and sport purposes.”
These were in essence also the policies
of the predecessor organizations. Their
opposition to the fur trade was incorporated into
several drafts of the proposed Universal
Declaration on Animal Welfare that were
circulated for decades before WSPA introduced the
less explicit present version in 2000, in hopes
of finally winning United Nations endorsement.
Yet neither Bellemare, Mason, nor any
other member of the present WSPA board except
Blue Cross of India chief executive Chinny
Krishna has been willing since Bellemare’s
election, in response to repeated requests from
ANIMAL PEOPLE, to state support in an
individually accountable manner for the WSPA
positions against fur and sealing. In absence
of individually accountable positions from board
members, it is not possible to determine from a
head count the depth of support for the
traditional WSPA policies of opposition to
sealing and the fur trade, or to see which
members might accept weakening amendments.
Instead, Mason on July 9, 2008 stated
on behalf of the collective board that “All WSPA
Board members endorse the policies and programmes
of WSPA.”
ANIMAL PEOPLE pointed out that
Conservative Party of Canada has likewise issued
assurances that Conservative candidates endorse
the party platform, as did the predecessor
Progressive-Conservative Party, whose last
national secretary was Dominique Bellemare.

“Defence of the Fur Trade”

The positions on fur and sealing taken by
the Conservative Party of Canada, Conservative
prime minister Stephen Harper, the former
Progressive-Conservative Party of Canada, and
former Progressive-Conservative prime minister
Joe Clark have always been poles apart from those
of WSPA.
But there was once a partial exception.
In 1983 Brian Mulroney of Quebec wrested the
Progressive-Conservative leadership from Clark.
Elected prime minister with unprecedented Quebec
support for the Progressive-Conservative party,
Mulroney appears to have been the only Canadian
prime minister since Newfoundland became a
province in 1948 who held a secure majority even
if he lost Newfoundland support.
Mulroney in 1984 imposed a moratorium on
the offshore phases of the Atlantic Canadian seal
hunt. The moratorium held until 1995, a year
after Mulroney left office.
Mulroney made Clark his minister for
external affairs. Clark took over a ministry
that was bitterly blamed by sealers and furriers
for allegedly inadequately defending the seal
hunt, including in a 1986 Report of the Standing
Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern
The Canadian fur trapping, fur farming,
and fur garment manufacturing industries, whose
hub was Montreal, vehemently demanded–as the
Report of the Standing Com-mittee stated–that
“The Department of External Affairs undergo an
attitudinal change in favour of recognizing the
legitimacy of trapping as an economic activity,
and actively promote the fur industry in overseas
The Report of the Standing Committee gave
Clark cover for work he had actually begun almost
as soon as Mulroney appointed him, as an ally of
hunters, trappers, sealers, and the fur trade
throughout his political career. Under Clark,
the Department of External Affairs commissioned
from the public relations firm Thomas Grey &
Company a strategic recommendation for defending
fur entitled Launching the Offensive. This
became the basis for a much more comprehensive
and detailed document called Defence of the Fur
From completion in May 1985 forward,
Defence of the Fur Trade appears to have been the
master plan used by the Ministry for External
Affairs, not only to the end of Clark’s tenure
in 1991, but to this day.
“There are also non-governmental
international organizations concerned with animal
welfare,” Defence of the Fur Trade noted.
“Examples would include the World Wildlife Fund,
the World Society for the Protection of Animals
and the International Wildlife Federation. Are
these organizations that can be influenced or
mobilized to foster our interests or must we
yield this ground to the anti-fur activists? If
we are to seek to work within these organizations
which Canadian groups would best be able to do
the job?”
Defence of the Fur Trade and Launching
the Offensive were obtained and distributed to
the global humane community by the Toronto Humane
Society in December 1988, more than three years
after they were distributed to key External
Affairs personnel. By then, the Department of
External Affairs had already codified its role in
promoting fur, summarized in an April 1987
response by External Affairs to the Report of the
Standing Committee:
“The Government of Canada recognizes the
legitimacy of trapping as an economic activity
and supports the taking of animals for fur,
based on humane and responsible trapping
practicesŠExternal Affairs shares the concern of
the industry that Canada’s international fur
trade interests could be jeopardized by animal
rights activists…External Affairs is
contributing to the cost of attitudinal research
and professional guidance in the United Kingdom
and the United States. The Department will
continue to fund the development and
implementation of a coordinated international
communications strategy in defense of the fur
trade to the limit of available funding.
Canadian posts abroad will assist industry
representatives in the implementation of this
The Southam News syndicate in December
1990 learned from documents obtained through the
Canadian access to information act that the
Department of External Affairs had issued a
five-year grant of $1.8 million to the Fur
Institute of Canada, for pro-fur propaganda
efforts begun in 1988 and continuing through
1992–i.e., to the end of the last fiscal year
budgeted by Clark before he left office.

Bellemare & Joe Clark

Dominique Bellemare was national
secretary of the Progressive-Conservative Party
of Canada in 2003, when it merged with the
Reform Party headed by Stephen Harper to become
the present Conservative Party–whose leader,
Harper, is now prime minister.
Losing previous attempts to win a seat in
Parliament in 1997 and 1994, Bellemare is
currently trying again.
Bellemare began his involvement in
Canadian politics in 1975, according to his
resumé, as a teenaged supporter of the
Progressive-Conservative Party. Bellemare in
1983 supported Joe Clark’s unsuccessful effort to
retain the Progressive-Conservative leadership
against Brian Mulroney’s challenge. In
1990-1991, Bellemare’s resumé states, he was
“senior political adviser” to then-minister of
external affairs Joe Clark.
“I cannot comment on my work with the
Deprtment, as I had a ‘secret’ clearance and an
oath of secrecy,” Bellemare e-mailed to ANIMAL
On June 9, 2008, Bellemare stated
through WSPA director general Peter Davies, “I
have been involved with WSPA since 1988.”
However, Bellemare told ANIMAL PEOPLE,
“During my tenure at External, I was not
involved with WSPA. This situation was known to
WSPA, and Mr Clark as well. For that reason, I
did [not?] work on any files regarding WSPA’s
campaigns or lobby to the federal Government, in
order to avoid a potential conflict of interest.”
Bellemare, by both his own account and
the account of his former law partner Harry
Bloomfield, became involved with WSPA through
Bloomfield. Bloomfield was a WSPA board member
before Bellemare, and was a past member of the
Montreal SPCA board, Bloomfield told ANIMAL
Bloomfield said that Bellemare became a
WSPA board member by serving first as
Bloomfield’s alternate.
“I worked in Mr Bloomfield firm as a
lawyer from 1988 to 1990,” Bellemare e-mailed.
“I worked on some legal files for WSPA (I cannot
tell you which ones due to professionnal
confidentiality, got acquainted with WSPA staff,
and got to know them and delat with them
directly. I also did my articling as a solicitor
for a London firm in 1988, visited then the WSPA
office and got acquainted with staff there. I
never sat on any Board meeting with Mr Bloomfield
from 1992 on. He was not present at Board
meetings after 1991. I was invited to join WSPA
not by Mr Bloomffield, but by Mr Bob Cummings,
head of the Nominating Committe, who was
impressed by my work and commitment to WSPA, and
the vlolunteering I did.”
Cummings, a longtime Massachusetts SPCA
executive and board member, did not respond to
an ANIMAL PEOPLE request for comment.
ANIMAL PEOPLE asked Joe Clark “what
policy areas former Progressive-Conservative
Party national secretary Dominique Bellemare
advised you about in 1990-1991, when you
employed him as a ‘policy advisor’ to the
Ministry for External Affairs?”
Responded Clark on June 9, 2008, “A
useful response would require some digging back
into files, by busy people, on a volunteer
basis. Could you give me a more precise idea of
why you are seeking this information?”
ANIMAL PEOPLE explained that the question
is whether Bellemare pays first allegiance to the
policies of WSPA or to the policies of his
political party, both of which he purports to
“Thanks,” e-mailed Clark on June 13,
2008. “Your clarification helps, and obviates
the need for extensive research. When Mr.
Bellemare worked with me, I had known of his
commitment to animal welfare, because he had
taken the initiative to request that he not be
involved in issues which might be seen to be
related to animal rights, to avoid a potential
conflict of interest. Naturally, I appreciated
his frankness, and respected it, so he would not
have been involved in the decisions to which you
Clark did not answer the next question:
“Why would you have hired a person with a
“commitment to animal welfare” to work in your
office as a ‘policy advisor’ at a time when the
Ministry for External Affairs had already been
troubled by leaks of confidential documents
pertaining to animal issues– most notably the
1985 strategic outline Defence of the Fur Trade,
which reached animal welfare groups and mass
media in 1988?”
Clark’s assertion that he had known of
Bellemare’s “commitment to animal welfare” raised
a further question: if Bellemare had such a
commitment, already known to at least one of the
senior and most influential leaders of his party,
why has Bellemare apparently never expressed his
feelings on the record to Canadian news media,
other members of his political party, global
news media, or even to pro-animal news media?
Bellemare’s public record on behalf of
animals, other than his roles with WSPA,
includes service on the board of the Humane
Society of Canada, an advocacy organization
founded by former WSPA representative Michael
ANIMAL PEOPLE president Kim Bartlett
learned that Bellemare is believed by some
persons long familiar with WSPA to have
influenced the Canadian government to assist the
WSPA mission to Kuwait following the Persian Gulf
war of 1990, and to have helped to obtain
funding for research on the effects of pesticides
and heavy metals on beluga whales.
Never once, however, does Bellemare
appear to have issued any public statements of
opposition to the Canadian fur trade or the seal
hunt, or even in support of updating the 1893
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, a cause
championed at times by other members of the
Progressive-Conservative and Conservative parties.
E-mailed Bellemare, “I have limited my
involvment with WSPA, helping mostly with
political advice, political contact, free legal
work and so on. I am taking most of my vacation
allowance for this, considerable sums of my own
money, fre preofessional time, and so on. I was
involved strictly with WSPA. I was rarely asked
to be a spokeperson for WSPA. I did so on some
occasions, such as the campaign to stop the
Granby Zoo to have a dolphin show/exhibit. I was
quoted in several medias for this. it remained on
the web for quite a few years, but it seems it is
not there any more. [ANIMAL PEOPLE editor
Merritt] Clifton has accused me of doing nothing
regarding the Montreal Biodome’s attempts to have
belugas. He is wrong. I did visit them with
WSPA staff during those years (1993-1995).”
It is possible that Bellemare might have
visited the Biodome with Michael O’Sullivan while
O’Sullivan still represented WSPA; O’Sullivan
did not respond to an ANIMAL PEOPLE inquiry. But
other leaders of the Granby Zoo and Biodome
campaigns have no recollection of Bellemare’s
participation, including Ric O’Barry, whom WSPA
hired to lead protest activities in Granby in
“I can’t recall the name. He was not
involved in the campaign to my knowledge,”
O’Barry said
Longtime Montreal activist Anne Streeter
was involved in both the Granby Zoo and Biodome
campaigns. She had no recollection of Bellemare
This became a familiar refrain.
“I am sorry I can’t be of more assistance
to you as far as Dominique Bellemare is
concerned,” said Canadian Farm Animal Care Trust
founder Tom Hughes, who was also a founding
board member of WSPA, and has headed humane
organizations in Canada since 1956. “In fact I
can’t even remember him, which means that he
certainly wasn’t active, in any way, in
Canadian animal welfare.”
“I’ve never heard of Bellemare,” said
George Clements, who cofounded the Association
for Protection of Fur Bearing Animals in 1952.
“The Bellemare family name is familiar to
me only in the political arena,” said Animal
Defence League of Canada founder Esther Klein.
“I have no knowledge of Bellemare,” said
Animal Alliance of Canada cofounder Liz White.
“I wish I could help, but I’ve never
heard of him and know nothing about him,”
responded wildlife artist Barry Kent MacKay, a
longtime board member of many Canadian and
international humane organizations.
“Today’s e-mail traffic is the first time
I’ve heard the name Dominique Bellemare.” said
film maker Stephen Best, whose work was
instrumental in building the International Fund
for Animal Welfare anti-sealing campaign in the
1970s, and who cofounded the International
Wildlife Coalition in 1985.
“I can’t say the name Dominique Bellemare
is familiar to me,” said Paul Seigel, a former
IFAW campaign director who now manages direct
mail campaigns for pro-animal organizations at
Direct Mail Systems Inc.

Bellemare & Stephen Harper

While Bellemare has no evident prior
history of opposition to sealing and the fur
trade, he does have considerable history of
alignment with Stephen Harper, including
helping to arrange the merger of the Reform and
Progressive-Conservative parties that led to
Harper’s rise to prime minister.
Bellemare’s campaign web site,
<www.dominiquebellemare.com>, throughout the
late spring and early summer of 2008 praised
Harper as, “A strong leader who knows where he
stands and knows where he is going.”
Where Stephen Harper is going in response
to anti-sealing activity has been clear for
years. In April 2006, for example, Harper
alleged to BBC News that sealers are victims of
an “international propaganda campaign.”
In September 2007, Harper told Canadian
Press that, “The seal population is exploding in
CanadaŠWe will not be bullied or blackmailed into
forcing people out of that industry who depend on
the livelihood based on things that are simply
stories and on allegations that are simply not
In July 2008, Harper told European
Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso that
“public pressure within the European Union to
curb the sale of seal products is based on
misinformation from anti-sealing organizations
and extremist groups.”
ANIMAL PEOPLE asked Bellemare if he was
willing, as president of WSPA, to allow Harper
to define WSPA as a purveyor of “misinformation”
and as an “extremist group.”
Two days later, Newfoundland and
Labrador fisheries minister Trevor Taylor, also
a member of the Conservative Party of Canada,
asked the Harper government to complain to the
World Trade Organization if the European Union
proceeds with a ban on the import of seal
Asked ANIMAL PEOPLE, “Will Bellemare now
stand up on behalf of WSPA, against Taylor and
Harper, and tell the Conservative Party of
Canada and the Harper government that sealing and
selling seal pelts are morally and ethically
wrong, as WSPA policy holds, and that Canada
instead of complaining to the WTO, should end
the seal hunt?
To date, Bellemare’s only subsequent
reponse to ANIMAL PEOPLE was an e-mail sent to
ANIMAL PEOPLE president Kim Bartlett on July 14,
2008 in which he repeated a previous threat [see
page 18] to “file a lawsuit against Animal
People, yourself and Merritt Clifton for libel
and diffamation. Since you rag is distributed in
Canada and more particularly in the Province of
Québec,” Bellemare said, “I will file my action
here, in the official language of Québec,

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