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Canadian official makes point with seal heart

Associated Press / May 27, 2009
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RANKIN INLET, Nunavut - Canada's governor general ate a slaughtered seal's raw heart in a show of support to the country's seal hunters, a display that a European Union spokeswoman yesterday called "too bizarre to acknowledge."

Governor General Michaelle Jean, the representative of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II as Canada's head of state, gutted the seal and swallowed a slice its organ Monday after an EU vote this month to ban seal products on grounds that the hunt is cruel.

Asked whether her actions were a message to Europe, Jean replied, "Take from that what you will."

Hundreds of Inuit at a festival gathered Monday as Jean knelt above a pair of seal carcasses and used a traditional ulu blade to slice the meat. Afterward, Jean turned to the woman beside her and asked: "Could I try the heart?" She swallowed a piece whole and deemed it tasty, saying: "It's like sushi. . . . And it's very rich in protein."

Jean, whose post is largely ceremonial, defended the hunt as an eons-old traditional hunting practice that is not inhumane.

EU governments are to sign the ban into law on June 25.