Free Willy bill hits new wave of Tory stalling tactics
Sen. Don Plett obstructing bill that bans keeping dolphins and whales in captivity
A new sitting may be underway in the Senate, but yearsold stalling tactics to hold up a bill banning whale and dolphin captivity in Canada are in full swing.
Tabled in December 2015 by former Liberal Sen. Wilfred Moore, Bill S-203, Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, has been in the red chamber for nearly three years now. The Conservatives, led by Sen. Don Plett, the Tories’ whip and caucus critic on the bill, have repeatedly used procedural obstruction to keep it from moving to a vote — a tactic that appears to have the support of the Conservative caucus.
On Tuesday, it was Sen. David Tkachuk’s turn. He put forward a sub-amendment on an amendment that was introduced A female resident Orca whale breaches while swimming in Puget Sound near Bainbridge Island, B.C., as seen from a research vessel on Jan. 18, 2014. A bill to ban the captivity of cetaceans in Canada is stalled in the Senate.
on June 12 by fellow Tory Sen. Scott Tannas to exclude the Vancouver Aquarium
from being covered by the bill. At that same June sitting, Plett also made a sub-amendment
to exclude Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ont.
Those are the only two facilities
that keep captive cetaceans in Canada.
“It’s appalling,” said Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice.
At the same June sitting where the moves were made to exclude Marineland and the Vancouver Aquarium, procedural motions from Conservative senators prevented a vote on the amendments, or the bill, which sent things late into the night — something Sen. Yuen Pau Woo, the leader of the Independent Senators Group, said Canadians would have been appalled to watch, had it been televised.
Tuesday, Plett stood and spoke in favour of the new sub-amendment, painting the process once again as “a clear battle between activists and scientists.”
He repeated his claim that it’s “agenda-driven radical activists” pushing the bill forward. Yet at committee, in addition to researchers from the Vancouver Aquarium who spoke out against the bill, a slew of scientists spoke in support of the bill.
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