Animal Rights Activist Forced to Resign as NDP Chief of Staff

Less than two weeks after he was elected as the leader of Canada’s socialist New Democrat Party, Jack Layton accepted the resignation of his chief of staff Rick Smith after a controversy arose over Smith’s past work against the seal hunt.

Until leaving to accept the chief of staff position, Smith was director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare which has actively fought against the seal hunt off the coast of Newfoundland and parts of the Maritimes.

New Democratic Party officials in Newfoundland strongly protested Smith’s selection. After a caucus meeting of the party this week, Layton announced that he and Smith and discussed the controversy and Layton had accepted Smith’s resignation. Layton reiterated that he supports the seal hunt.

International Fund for Animal Welfare spokesperson Katy Heath-Eves was not pleased by this turn of events. “It’s so unfortunate that it’s a card that’s in the pocket of some politicians and they’re playing this card,” Heath-Eves said.


Layton’s chief of staff resigns. The Globe and Mail, Feb. 5, 2003.

Ex-animal rights crusader quits as Layton aide. The Ottawa Citizen, Feb. 6, 2003.

Jack Layton’s chief of staff resigns. Bill Curry, National Post, Feb. 6, 2003.