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Canada defends seal hunt as it asks WTO to void EU ban

Seal-hunters must have the same rights as fishermen, Canada's Environment Minister Leonoa Aglukkaq insisted Monday, as her country battled a Brussels' trade ban at the WTO. Speaking on the sidelines of a World Trade Organization appeal hearing on the European Union's ban on the import and sale of seal products, Aglukkaq blasted opponents of hunting. "Everybody, every family is concerned on the territories in Newfoundland, Labrador, Quebec and Nunavut," she told reporters.

Canadian minister challenges moral basis of European seal product ban

GENEVA - The World Trade Organization's recent decision to uphold a four-year-old European Union ban on seal products has set a dangerous precedent for future trade relations, Canada's northern development minister said Monday. Leona Aglukkaq, speaking after she made a presentation to a WTO appeal panel in Geneva, said the trade organization was wrong to cite moral grounds in its ruling late last year.

Ottawa to argue against EU ban of seal products at international hearing

GENEVA - An international trade organization will hear arguments from Ottawa on Monday in an appeal of a landmark ruling that upheld the European Union's ban on imported seal products. Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said she will argue at the three-day World Trade Organization hearing in Geneva what the Tories have steadfastly defended — that the seal hunt is humane, sustainable and well-regulated. "Any views to the contrary are based on myths, misinformation and misguided emotion," said Aglukkaq said in an opinion editorial released Sunday.

Today on the Hill: vigil to renew calls for national missing women inquiry

OTTAWA - The recent death of a Nova Scotia university student will be the focus of renewed calls today for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women. A vigil is planned for Parliament Hill in memory of Loretta Saunders. The 26-year-old Inuit student at Saint Mary's University disappeared Feb. 13. Two people have since been charged with first-degree murder in her death after her body was found last week on the side of a New Brunswick highway. Other events on and around Parliament Hill today include:

Group planning vigil to call for inquiry into murdered native women

HALIFAX - A vigil is being planned in Ottawa in memory of Loretta Saunders and to call for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women. Cheryl Maloney, president of the Nova Scotia Native Women's Association in Halifax, is helping organize the event Wednesday on Parliament Hill. Maloney says she wants the federal government to look into the issue of the hundreds of native Canadian women who have disappeared or been killed over the last two decades.

Wildlife officials mull quotas for world's last unregulated polar bear hunt

Public hearings begin Wednesday in the tiny community of Inukjuak in Quebec's arctic region to discuss putting quotas on the world's last unregulated polar bear hunt. Scientists say climate change is starting to affect the health of the south Hudson Bay population, and voluntary limits on the hunt should be reduced — especially as Canada's management policies come under increasing international scrutiny. But the aboriginal communities in Quebec, Ontario and Nunavut that hunt that population of bears aren't willing to reduce their take.

Genes shed light on pygmy history

Scientists on Tuesday said they could fill a blank in the history of Central Africa's pygmies, whose past is one of the most elusive of any community in the world. At a key period in the human odyssey, these hunter-gatherer tribes shunned interbreeding with Bantu-speaking communities who were early farmers, according to a gene analysis. The two groups first met when the Bantu groups, having acquired farming technology some 5,000 years ago, started moving out of the region of Nigeria and Cameroon into eastern, central and southern Africa.

Albania bans hunting to save endangered animals

Albania said Tuesday it will ban all hunting for two years to protect animals threatened with extinction. Environment Minister Lefter Koka said the ban was necessary to protect species whose numbers had fallen dramatically after two decades of rampant hunting. The environment ministry says brown bears and eagles are now seriously endangered in mountainous areas of Albania. The number of pheasants and wild quail have also fallen dramatically. "We have been forced to adopt strict measures to protect endangered species from illegal hunting," Koka told AFP.

Today on the Hill: Controversy to persist over Veterans Affairs office closures

OTTAWA - Questions will continue today in the House of Commons over the closure of Veterans Affairs offices in eight locations across the country. But the answers will likely be subdued as the major players are usually absent from question period on Fridays, and the government has already made clear that it's standing by the decision. The opposition parties are calling on Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino to resign. But Fantino says he's not going anywhere, and insists the closures, slated for today, would proceed.

Today on the Hill: Controversy to persist over Veterans Affairs office closures

OTTAWA - Questions will continue today in the House of Commons over the closure of Veterans Affairs offices in eight locations across the country. But the answers will likely be subdued as the major players are usually absent from question period on Fridays, and the government has already made clear that it's standing by the decision. The opposition parties are calling on Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino to resign. But Fantino says he's not going anywhere, and insists the closures, slated for today, would proceed.
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