Monday, December 20, 2010

Trudeau's Canadian Coyote Fur, and Flying Fur!: Faux Christmas Controversies?

Liberal MP Justin Trudeau poses with his family--Sophie, Xavier, Ella-Grace--on his annual holiday card wearing coyote trimmed parkas, real fur-lined boots, and under a real fur blanket. (Canadian Press)

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
Tralee Pearce
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?


Wendy said...

Shame on him! Fur is not acceptable. Killing another creature for vanity is not acceptable. He and his family are sending a very bad message IMHO.
As for Christmas cards - I don't care if they are religious or secular or both.

Dentographer said...

So,Wearing a local product using fur gets you in trouble,and wearing an imported famous branded clothes makes us feel bad for the minimum waged sweat shop workers.
its getting tricky what to dress every morning to go to work! lol.

umm,i dont favour wearing furry jackets,yes,they look lavish and luxurious,and probably obscenely priced,but i am more into insulated jackets that are often practical, and into synthetic leather and wool jackets,they keep me warm,look elegent and definitely dont let me go back home painted like a christmas tree!

but really,buying clothes is becoming really tricky,i cant escape looking into the label to see where its made and feel bad if it says any country in asia,and the european and american made clothes are really expensive.

speaking of expensive,have you heard about Dubai and Abu dhabi competing on Christmas trees? Dubai made the largest Christmas tree in the world while abu dhabi created the most expensive Christmas tree in the world which is worth 11 million dollars, which left me wondering, if a country that has islam as its religion officially did this,what should other countries do?

Wendy said...

The tree thing is funny actually!!!

Killing animals for vanity is wrong. That's what is really upsetting to people.

Wendy said...

Further comments on your post - I believe people in secular (or non secular) countries should address Christmas in whatever way they choose. I have sent 'Christmas' cards to people of other faiths and I've had years where I've just sent 'holiday greetings' cards. I don't think it matters.
Something that annoys me in Canada are those who want 'political correctness' and claiming we shouldn't have 'nativity' plays, songs about the religious aspect of Christmas, etc. so that we don't offend people of other faiths. I say that is ridiculous! We should continue to celebrate Christmas as we always have and I also think that the majority of people from other faiths living in Canada do not wish us to stop our traditions.

oby said...


"Something that annoys me in Canada are those who want 'political correctness' and claiming we shouldn't have 'nativity' plays, songs about the religious aspect of Christmas, etc. so that we don't offend people of other faiths."

Yeah we have those in the USA too. I think it is ridiculous. If we are to sanitize Christmas then we need to do the same for Eid or any Jewish holiday. Then where does that leave us? A muddled,non discript boring watered down version of nothing in any of the faiths. Isn't it better to wish others of different faiths a joyous holiday replete with their full celebrations and maybe even join in or better yet offer to work on their holiday so that they may enjoy guilt free?

oby said...

i forgot to add that my daughter's class put on the second shepard's play which has been a tradition at the school for 110 years since the school started. It is done by the sixth grade each year and rather than kill the tradition they have made participation one time the school had all Christians or mostly Christians but now is much more diverse. So for the play we had an atheist playing the main speaking part, several Jewish children playing shepards and wise men, a Hindu and a Muslim in the chorus singing religious Christian songs and of course lots of Christians playing is a play about the birth of Christ. While watching it I was struck at how the kids all worked together despite religious differences. And I thought wouldn't it be great if the rest of the world could get along and support each others beliefs. If there was a Jewish play or an Eid play and my daughter wanted to be a part of it I would be supportive of her for sure.

Wendy said...

Kids realize we are all different and just run with it. Why can't we all be kids? :)

Susanne said...

Oby, that play sounds fantastic! I love that idea! :)


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