Former Newfoundland and Labrador politician, Jim Bennett, has just published a new fiction novel that relates to the seal harvest. Bennett told a local CBC radio station that
” …the opening scene in a story that traces the seal hunt protests of the 1970s – “people I consider villains” — to the war and ethnic cleansing of Bosnia, to operations of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and a jury trial in Corner Brook.”
The novel opens with a helicopter chartered by an anti-seal hunting group buzzes a sealer’s boat, off the coast of Newfoundland. The sealer, Billy Wheeler downs it with a single shot, killing everyone on board. As his crewmates reel from shock, one thing becomes irrevocably clear: Billy is deep in the throes of PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder). Born in a fishing village in northern Newfoundland in 1967, the last thing Billy thought he’d become was a soldier. With few career options available due to declining fish stocks, he joins the Canadian Armed Forces. Canada isn’t at war with anyone, so he never considers the possibility of combat. His deployment on a peacekeeping mission to Bosnia changes that. There he witnesses the ravages of ethnic cleansing and engages in the savagery of war, discovering an unparalleled propensity for killing.
Degrees of Guilt is available as an ebook from publisher FriesenPress, and at 36 stores around Newfoundland and Labrador. Even his hairdresser took half a dozen copies to sell in her salon.
There will also be official launches in St. John’s Nov. 24, in Corner Brook Dec. 8 and later in Ottawa, Toronto and Windsor, Ontario.