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Pamela Anderson calls for open hearings in Ottawa's appeal of EU seal hunt ban

Pam Anderson at the Tropicana, Las Vegas, March 29, 2011. REX FEATURES/THE CANADIAN PRESS.

Canadian-born actor Pamela Anderson has sent a letter to Ottawa asking that hearings on Canada’s challenge to the European Union’s ban on seal products be open to the public.

The Department of International Trade is challenging the ban before the World Trade Organization.

In her letter, Anderson requests that International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan ensure all submissions by the federal government are available to the public.

Anderson, a star of the program Baywatch, said she was writing the letter in aid of the lobby group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Anderson says that if Canada doesn’t have “anything to hide about how seals are bludgeoned and skinned in the commercial slaughter,” then there should be no issue with allowing public access to hearings.

Anderson says she regrets Ottawa is challenging the ban and calls it a “huge waste of taxpayer dollars.”

Ottawa launched its challenge of Europe’s ban on seal products before the World Trade Organization last month.

The federal government has asked the WTO to establish a dispute settlement panel to make an independent decision on the ban.

The ban was approved by the European Union’s 27 member states in 2009 and imposed last year, but Ottawa argues it violates WTO rules.

Government officials have said it could take more than three years for the WTO to act and the EU to respond, even if Canada succeeds in persuading a panel that the ban breaks the rules.

Canada exported about $5.5 million worth of seal products to the EU in 2006 when the price of pelts peaked at over $100, but the market has been cut by more than half in recent years.

There are about 6,000 licensed seal hunters on the East Coast, but only a few hundred took part in the 2009 hunt.