Time to Free Willy


Lethbridge Herald - - READER’S FORUM -

Ah, the Cana­dian Se­nate! It may not pro­vide the par­ti­san drama so fre­quently on dis­play in its Amer­i­can coun­ter­part, but it can be in­fu­ri­at­ing in its own spe­cial way.

Con­sider, for ex­am­ple, the re­mark­able three-year saga of a mod­est at­tempt to pro­tect whales, dol­phins and por­poises held in cap­tiv­ity.

Way back in 2015, a bill was in­tro­duced in the Up­per Cham­ber that would phase out, with a few im­por­tant ex­cep­tions, the prac­tice of con­fin­ing these highly in­tel­li­gent mam­mals in small en­clo­sures.

Hear­ings were held, ex­perts were con­sulted, and Bill S-203, the End­ing the Cap­tiv­ity of Whales and Dol­phins Act, started mak­ing its way through the Se­nate.

Only two places in Canada, the Van­cou­ver Aquar­ium and Marineland in Ni­a­gara Falls, still keep these an­i­mals in cap­tiv­ity. The bill would al­low them to re­tain the whales and dol­phins they al­ready have. But it would for­bid them from ac­quir­ing more on the grounds that keep­ing and breed­ing such crea­tures in ar­ti­fi­cial pens is frankly cruel. Whales and their cousins be­long in the ocean, not in wa­tery zoos.

Still, a hand­ful of Con­ser­va­tive se­na­tors have fought Bill S-203 ev­ery step of the way. They’ve used ev­ery kind of stalling tac­tic imag­in­able to hold up the bill. Last week it was Sen. David Tkachuk who put for­ward a sub­a­mend­ment to an amend­ment, gum­ming up the leg­isla­tive works yet again.

The Se­nate, al­ways an idio­syn­cratic in­sti­tu­tion, al­lows for this kind of pro­ce­dural shenani­gan and it will soon be three years since the bill was first tabled. MPs from all par­ties in the Com­mons have called on the se­na­tors to pass S-203, and in­de­pen­dent re­searchers say it’s high time to stop any more whales and dol­phins from be­ing taken into cap­tiv­ity.

Enough, al­ready. The se­na­tors should stop this games­man­ship and vote on the bill, once and for all.

Ed­i­to­rial from the Toronto Star

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