Each Christmas it seems there are Grinch-like preoccupations of the few, elevated to general concern by the media. In recent years there have been the "somebody who was offended by some religious symbol" stories--a Christmas tree in a government building; a Merry Christmas banner in an airport; a Menorah but no Christmas symbolism in a mall; or the winning card in Christmas card competition for children that includes an offensive cross on a church steeple in an otherwise Marc Chagall-type scene.
This year the fur is flying over the real coyote furs worn by the family of Liberal Member of Parliament Justin Trudeau (son of the famous Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, and Margaret Sinclair Trudeau) in the photo on their political--but politically incorrect--Christmas card. Trudeau fils is unrepentant in the face of PETA's criticism, and invoking his father's memory (again) to justify his actions. Two relevant articles follow.
Justin Trudeau’s Christmas card controversy
Globe and Mail Update
Posted on Friday, December 17, 2010 5:34PM EST
Greetings misfire: Instead of spreading holiday cheer with his annual family Christmas card, Justin Trudeau has drawn the ire of animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
The junior MP and his family - wife Sophie, and two children, Xavier and Ella-Grace - appear in a photo wearing fur-trimmed parkas and huddling under a fur blanket.
The inside of the card reportedly reads: “During this holiday season, let’s celebrate what’s most important by surrounding ourselves with love and warmth.”
PETA criticized the use of coyote fur as “a lurid way of celebrating peace on Earth,” according to the Canadian Press.
Mr. Trudeau defended the family’s attire by dissing PETA.
“I think one of the ways of calculating whether you're doing things right or not is looking at who's opposing you and PETA has lost much of any credibility it had in Canada,” Trudeau told the Toronto Sun.
“It's a family tradition to know how to keep warm in the winter,” he said, invoking the fur-wearing ways of his father, Pierre Trudeau.
The parkas were made by Canada Goose, a Canadian company whose policy says it uses coyote fur “only as absolutely necessary, and exclusively for functional purposes,” according to CP.
Now that groups like PETA are widening the scope from ostentatious furs to fur-edged parkas, how many Canadians will be looking over their shoulder this winter for paint-can wielding activists?
Michael Kor, Arctic White Fox Fur Coat
Fur flies over Justin Trudeau’s Christmas card
OTTAWA— From Saturday's Globe and Mail
Published Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 11:05AM EST
Last updated Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 4:03PM EST
The furry frills on Justin Trudeau’s Christmas card have drawn fire from an animal rights group.
The card that the Liberal MP sent to his constituents this year has Mr. Trudeau and his family in parkas with thick fur-lined hoods huddled under a fur blanket.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has blasted the MP and his family for wearing coyote fur, calling it “a lurid way of celebrating peace on Earth.”
PETA spokeswoman Jane Dollinger calls the fur a product of misery and says coyotes are often killed in steel-jaw traps that have been banned in many other countries.
Mr. Trudeau’s office refused to comment on PETA’s fiery reaction to the cards.
But spokesman Alex Lanthier says Mr. Trudeau and his family were wearing parkas made by Canada Goose, a Canadian company that has a “sustainable way” of collecting fur.
Canada Goose says it obtains the fur in the most humane ways and adheres to the guidelines of the Fur Council of Canada.
The company’s policy also says it uses coyote fur “only as absolutely necessary, and exclusively for functional purposes.”
In a posting on Twitter, Mr. Trudeau suggested he wasn’t out to create any controversy.
“I’m glad to support both Canadian products and sustainable fur. But it’s mostly just a family Christmas card,” he wrote.
The Canadian Press
Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau
I'm not sure how scandalous I find this "controversy". The Trudeau furs are debatable as there is tension between PETA's claims of cruel trapping vs the Snow Goose company's claims to environmental "sustainability" in acquiring and using furs. However, it is true that PETA does make exaggerated claims that then undermine their advocacy (like the claims about the current seal hunt). Trudeau's attack on PETA then may seem petty, but accurate. His "it's just a family holiday card" and "my dad wore fur" seem disingenuous--the card was sent to his constituents, the current and future voters of his riding; his father actually went canoeing and hunting and fishing in climates warranting the protective warmth of fur. He could have chosen ranched furs or humanely trapped furs and diminished the potential for criticism.
I wonder how much of this is the manufacturing of controversy, or tapping into current political dilemmas, like who will lead the Liberal Party of Canada; as well as political correctness about luxury generally, and fur in particular. Perhaps it is about selling news?
Black ranch mink coat and hat
Your comments, thoughts, impressions?
Is it okay to wear fur--ranched only, humanely trapped, whatever--for warmth, style?
Should you expect to be paint bombed if you do?
In a multi-faith country is it acceptable or desireable to address Christmas in both its religious, and cultural or secular aspects?
Do you prefer to see only secular or cultural manifestations of Christmas in public places?
Can Trudeau legitimately claim that his card is simply a family card?
To what extent do these controversies seem manufactured to you?