Ottawa overturns RCMP decision to swap muskrat fur hats for wool tuques
In this file photo, a muskrat feeds on the roots of a plant Wednesday, April 1, 2009 near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho after bringing his catch from Fernan Lake to the shore. (AP Photo/The Coeur d'Alene Press, Shawn Gust)
Josh Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, September 30, 2014 4:47PM EDT
The Conservative government is overturning an RCMP decision to replace their cold-weather muskrat fur hats with wool tuques.
Speaking during daily question period Tuesday in the House of Commons, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq said the RCMP decision would be reversed.
The RCMP had planned to start using wool tuques in the winter as an animal-friendly move, after decades of pressure from animal-rights activists.
"The minister of public safety has taken actions to ensure that the historic fur winter hats worn by the RCMP will not be discontinued, despite the efforts of the radical animal rights activists," Aglukkaq said. "The RCMP decision, which has caused much glee among anti-fur activists, is being fully overturned."
Conservative MP Robert Sopuck from Manitoba raised the issue in the House Tuesday, saying rural communities that rely on the fur trade would be harshly impacted by the elimination of muskrat fur hats.
"This unilateral move by the RCMP has outraged the fur industry, rural and remote communities and thousands of trappers," Sopuck said, adding more than 70,000 Canadians rely on the fur trade for employment.
An activist group called the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals said it was "disgusted" with the government for overturning the RCMP decision.
"The RCMP made a decision based on facts, scientific testing and the collective attitudes of their members and the public," APFA spokesperson Michael Howie said in a statement.
The APFA was first to announce the RCMP decision to replace their muskrat fur hats. The RCMP confirmed the change late last week.
"The RCMP has listened to the views and concerns of the public and employees in regards to the use of animal products in police issued uniform and equipment," an RCMP spokesperson said in a statement Friday.
The APFA says it has launched an online petition to uphold the RCMP's initial decision to get rid of the muskrat fur hat. The group says three muskrat pelts are used to make each fur hat, and the animals killed for their pelts face harsh conditions when they are captured.
"Muskrats are caught in the wild in body-gripping traps, which can leave them exposed to the elements, dehydration, starvation, predators and numerous self-inflicted injuries prior to their deaths," the APFA says.
Aglukkaq, who hails from Nunavut, has long supported the fur trade. "Our government will always stand up for Canada's hunters and trappers," she said Tuesday.