February 21st, 2019

Time to Free Willy

By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on October 12, 2018.

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 sub-amendment 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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