03 March 2006

An appropriately dismissive response...from the mainlanders

As the Bond Papers told you last night and as The Telegram confirms (see below) on this snowy Friday, Danny Williams will be a guest on Larry King Live this evening for a short appearance, with the main guest for the full hour being Paul McCartney and King's sometime guest-host, none other than McCartney's wife, Heather.
Friday's show

Sir Paul McCartney and his wife speak out against something they call shocking, brutal and horrifying. What has them so upset? Tune in at 9 p.m. ET.
That's a pretty objective set-up and maybe set-up is the right word for this whole thing.

The Telegram also notes the scornful attitude editorial writers across the country have taken to the aging Beatle and his crusade. That's an appropriate response, given that Sir Paulie and his associates will quietly slip back to their homes after a few days of media frenzy and get on with the rest of their business.

Too bad the locals haven't learned the same measured approach.

But that's about the limit of what I'd say is an appropriate way of dealing with this whole show that is designed more than anything else to enrich the organizations protesting the seal hunt.

Here's the full Telly report, reprinted here since I can't link you directly to it and it will be gone from the Internet in about five days.


Live on tape
By Barb Sweet and Jamie Baker, The Telegram
and The Canadian Press

Paul McCartney and his wife Heather pose with a seal pup on the ice floes off Iles-de-la-Madeleine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence Thursday as part of a protest against Canada'’s annual seal hunt. (Photo: Canadian Press)

Premier Danny Williams will get to chat with rock legend and animal rights activist Sir Paul McCartney about the seal hunt after all -— only it won'’t be in a boardroom.

It will be on international television.

Williams and the ex-Beatle have been invited to participate in a discussion with Larry King on his popular CNN talk show, Larry King Live.

The premier'’s office confirmed Thursday evening that the plan is for the two to appear on the show via satellite; the piece is tentatively scheduled to air tonight between 10:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Newfoundland time.

"“The premier is excited to have the opportunity to put the Newfoundland and Labrador perspective on this story,"” the premier'’s spokeswoman, Elizabeth Matthews, told The Telegram.

"“All the premier has ever asked for is an opportunity to educate people about our perspective -— this is the opportunity."”

Sir Paul, currently in Canada protesting the seal hunt, had originally been slated to appear on the show, according to CNN.com, but the producers called looking for a representative from the Canadian government to participate as well.

After finding out nobody from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans was available, they apparently contacted the premier'’s office Thursday.

"“They know Premier Williams has been very active in terms of comments he has made (on the hunt) this year and last year,"” Matthews said. "“He sent out a fair bit of information to international media last year in terms of the seal hunt, so they knew he was quite passionate about the issue."”

Meanwhile, the subject of the seal hunt -— and Newfoundland in general -— doesn'’t often enjoy good press on the mainland media'’s editorial pages, but McCartney'’s trip to the ice floes has ticked off at least a couple of Canadian scribes.

Who could forget, for example, 2005:— the year of the cheap shots, in which Globe and Mail Columnist Margaret Wente attacked the province for its efforts to get its financial due from the Atlantic Accord, a battle it won to the tune of $2 billion.

"“I like Newfoundlanders. I really do. But their sense of victimhood is unmatched,"” Wente wrote." “And their flag protest isn'’t winning them much sympathy on this side of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In fact, the sensation on this side is of a deep and painful bite to the hand that feeds. (Premier Danny) Williams reminds me of a deadbeat brother-in-law who'’s hit you up for money a few times too often. He'’s been sleeping on your couch for years, and now he'’s got the nerve to complain that it'’s too lumpy."”

Then there was Toronto Sun Columnist Bill Lankhof, who took a few shots when writing about this province'’s golden boys of curling - — a team that went on to win Olympic gold.

"“It'’s the biggest thing to happen in The Land Cod Forgot since the invention of the pogey cheque - Newfoundland'’s native son Brad Gushue will represent Canada in curling at the 2006 Olympics in Turin," ” he wrote.

But McCartney'’s plan to champion the anti-seal-hunt crowd, and his desire to touch a real live seal pup, has stirred the passions of some mainland media in favour of the province'’s stance on the contentious hunt.

John Gleeson, editor of The Winnipeg Sun, was driven to write about the seal hunt by McCartney'’s excursion.

He'’s got no connection to Newfoundland, nor the Maritimes, other than having spent a year in Halifax. Gleeson is from Vancouver, where he has written about the fishery.

"“It looked pretty silly and childish to me, the whole thing,"” Gleeson said in a telephone interview from his Winnipeg office when asked about the McCartneys'’ trip to the ice floes.

He called the idea of the former Beatle wanting to touch a seal pup farcical.

His column made the point that there are far more serious issues in the Earth'’s oceans to be worried about.

"“There is plenty of butchery going on in the name of harvesting the seas -— the international fishing fleet is strip-mining the ocean floor in a short-sighted grasp for quick profit,"” Gleeson'’s column stated.

The draining of future resources should take precedence over a photo-op with a cute seal pup, Gleeson said Thursday.

He said McCartney is merely demonstrating the "“shallowness"” that'’s typified his career.

By early Thursday Winnipeg time, Gleeson had already received dozens of e-mails, about half in support of the seal hunt.

But some diehard fans took issue with his criticism of the Beatles.

One Torontonian suggested to Gleeson that McCartney should just go underwater in his yellow submarine.

Meanwhile, in a short editorial Thursday, the Globe and Mail editorial page slammed the former mop-top.

"“Spring is coming, and so is the tradition in which animal-rights protesters attempt to slaughter the livelihoods of Newfoundlanders and others who make part of their living from the seal hunt,"” the editorial stated.

It noted that the fact it'’s illegal to kill seal pups has been ignored by animal rights activists.

"“Until Canada and the rest of the world decide to stop butchering and eating other animals, it'’s a bit rich to focus on the seal hunt. … By all means, Sir Paul, enjoy the trip and then go home."”

McCartney and his wife, Heather, travelled by small plane to get a close-up look at newborn harp seals sprawled on an ice pan about 20 kilometres northwest of the Iles de la Madeleine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence Thursday as part of their high-profile protest against the hunt.

They were accompanied by scores of photographers and reporters taken to the ice by three helicopters.

The couple is calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to end the hunt, which they described as a heartbreaking slaughter.

The federal Fisheries Department has insisted Canadians support Ottawa'’s policies, citing a February 2005 Ipsos-Reid survey that concluded 60 per cent of those surveyed were in favour of a "“responsible hunt."”

Thursday'’s protest was organized by the Humane Society of the United States and the British-based group, Respect for Animals.

On Wednesday, the former Beatle spent about 90 minutes at St. John'’s International Airport en route to P.E.I.