By Josiah HughesAs you've probably noticed by now, the long-standing Canadian seal hunt debate has heated up this month thanks to Animal Collective, who recently posed for one of PETA's "Save the Seals" ads. That campaign inspired a response from a Seal and Sealing Network representative, who wrote a strongly worded email to Exclaim!, and mentioned that he would never listen to another Animal Collective record again.
It's perfect timing, then, for Hidden Cameras front-man Joel Gibb to reinforce his stance on sealing in Canada. The Toronto-based indie popster raised some eyebrows with a PETA ad campaign earlier this year, and will likely do so again today (October 28) with the unveiling of an anti-seal hunting billboard in downtown Ottawa.
In an interview with Exclaim!, Gibb opened up about his experiences as a seal protester, saying, "I didn't really realize how being against [the seal hunt] is so offensive to people. That upsets me so much. It's almost like McCarthyism, that's the parallel I think of. Your political career is dead if you take the wrong side on this issue. For example, if you worked on a campaign against seal hunting, you can't be in politics. You can't even be in the NDP. It's so taboo. I get very upset about how taboo it is, and how conservative we actually are. This issue connects to a lot of other issues. I just read in the paper recently that Canada is now allowing some very questionable dog and cat fur into the country, I think from Asia, because we don't want to seem like hypocrites about this issue."
Gibb goes on to say that he's "incredibly offended and ashamed as a Canadian that we're so conservative," adding, "When the EU banned the fur products last year, Parliament started talking about how they wanted the Olympic costumes made out of seal fur. It's just absurd. For Mac Harb, the senator that opened up in the senate, it was so taboo for him to even bring it up. They hissed at him and booed him."
Gibb also gave his two cents about the comments made to Exclaim! by the Seal and Sealing Network's coordinator against seal hunt protesting. "I think it's really easy to say that people are ignorant and that it's a superficial issue," Gibb said. "Of course he's going to say that, he's representing the seal hunters. I'm not against someone who hunts seals, although I really do hate when people hunt, but we're talking about the commercial seal hunt that's organized by a Norwegian company. They take giant ships through ice flows, go into giant groups of seals, and just start clubbing indiscriminately. And it's actually illegal to film it, which I think is questionable."
Ultimately, the goal of the billboard (which looks very much like the image above) in Ottawa is to get more Canadians talking about the issue, rather than sweeping it under the carpet, Gibb said. "This issue is so easily accessed on so many different fronts," he explained. "It's not just an animal thing, it's a resource thing, it's an environmental thing. If we actually thought about who organizes this, who profits mainly from this commercial seal hunt that kills one million seals every three years, it's a Norwegian company. To me, there are so many ways you can access this issue and talk about it."
Joel Gibb will be appearing at the intersection of Gladstone Avenue and Preston Street in Ottawa to unveil his new PETA billboard today at 3 p.m. EST. The Hidden Cameras will then perform at Ottawa's Babylon in the evening.