WSPA president loses bid for Parliament
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2008:
(Actual publication date 11-5-08.)
OTTAWA Canadian voters on October 14, 2008 re-elected the Conservative national government headed by prime minister Stephen Harper, an outspoken defender of the Atlantic Canadian seal hunt, but the voters of the Beauharnois-Salaberry district in Quebec for the third time rejected Conservative candidate Dominique Bellemare.
Bellemare, board president of the World Society for the Protection of Animals since June 2008, was previously defeated in the 1997 and 2004 Parliamentary elections. He received 20.2% of the vote, placing a distant second in a five-candidate race to Claude Debellefeuille of the Quebec nationalist Bloc Quebecois, who received 50.1%.
Bellemare made little if any public mention of his WSPA affiliation during the 2008 election campaign.
Neither did Harper as Conservative leader complete and return the WSPA questionaire about candidates and parties positions on animal issues that was returned by Liberal leader Stephane Dion, Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe, New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton, and Green Party leader Elizabeth May, a former Sea Shepherd Conservation Society board member. All four mentioned interest in strengthening the Canadian federal anti-cruelty legislation.
Duceppe and May expressed support in principle for the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare, a proposed global covenant promoted by WSPA and predecessor organizations for 85 years. Seeking adoption of the present version of the Universal Declaration by the European Union is a longtime focal goal of WSPA.
Bellemare did mention his association with WSPA in a previous campaign biography and also mentioned donating to the pro-hunting organization Ducks Unlimited.
Articles published in the June and July/August 2008 editions of ANIMAL PEOPLE pointed out that Bellemare in 16 years as a WSPA board member has rarely if ever taken visible public positions on animal issues, has never individually and explicitly denounced the seal hunt and wearing fur, and was elected to the WSPA board after working for the Canadian Ministry for External Affairs, which then and now led Canadian governmental efforts to prevent the European Union from banning imports of seal pelts and trapped fur.
The Ministry for External Affairs while Bellemare worked there was headed by former Canadian prime minister Joe Clark, a strong defender of sealing, trapping, and hunting throughout his political career. Bellemare campaigned in 1983 for Clark, against Brian Mulroney, who defeated Clark to become leader of the Progressive-Conservative Party, ancestral to the Conservative Party of today. Later elected prime minister, Mulroney suspended the seal hunt in 1984. The hunt resumed in 1995, a year after Mulroney left office.
Clark as minister for external affairs presided over production of a 1985 internal document entitled Defence of the Fur Trade, which in one paragraph asked expressly whether WSPA can be influenced or mobilized to foster our interests.
Bellemare and Clark have both told ANIMAL PEOPLE that Bellemare did not work on animal issues while working for the Ministry of External Affairs, but have not explained what he did work on.
Eventually becoming national secretary of the Progressive-Conservative Party, Bellemare in 2003 helped to arrange the merger with the Reform Party that created the present Conservative Party.
The 2008 Canadian election campaign formally started on September 7, when Harper called the election in an unsuccessful attempt to win a Parliamentary majority.
The third Canadian national election in four years ended with the Conservatives holding 143 of the 308 seats in Parliament more than previously, but not enough to avoid having to form a coalition government.
The Liberals, also traditionally strong defenders of the seal hunt, won 76 seats; the Bloc Quebecois won 50; the New Democratic Party won 37; independent candidates won two seats; and the Green Party won no seats, polling 6.8% of the vote nationwide.