Over the past two years, Canada has been inching closer and closer to outlawing the captivity of whales, dolphins and porpoises, also known as cetaceans. As we saw with the death of Daisy the harbour porpoise at Vancouver Aquarium on June 15 -- the fourth cetacean to die at the facility since August 2016 -- these changes cannot come soon enough.
Bill S-203, the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, has been winding its way through the Canadian Senate since late 2015. On the verge of being referred from the Senate Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans back to the full Senate for third reading, the Bill's opponents are attempting to derail the progress of this legislation by relying on a rarely-used process to request another round of consultation on the Bill.
If the Committee votes to pursue this approach, the Senate cannot vote on Bill S-203 until it receives a report on the results of the consultation. But because the scope and length of the additional consultation -- as well as the timing of the report -- is entirely up in the air, this would likely lead to the death of Bill S-203.
It should be noted that S-203 has already undergone extensive public consultation. The Standing Committee has heard from numerous witnesses over months of hearings, entertaining lengthy comments and a variety of perspectives from a number of sectors.
After such a thorough consultation process, we should be moving on to the clause-by-clause review of Bill S-203 rather than going backwards in the process. This is when the provisions of the Bill are considered and debated by Committee one clause at a time, offering Committee members the opportunity to propose amendments to the draft legislation before the Bill is referred back to the Senate for third reading.
Stalling the process right before this critical step means that there is no chance for Committee members to debate and strengthen the Bill, based on the feedback received from stakeholders during the Committee hearings. This tactic has the potential to short-circuit the Bill, and we shouldn't stand for it. Given how strongly many Canadians feel about the issue of whale and dolphin captivity, it is disappointing that the Committee would not give this Bill due consideration and a fair process.
We need to call on the Senate to do what is right after so many years of whale and dolphin captivity
Bill S-203 offers crucial protection for whales, dolphins and porpoises in Canada. If it is not adopted into law, the unrestricted import of wild-caught whales and dolphins will continue, along with the export of beluga calves from Marineland to the United States and the use of cetaceans for entertainment in facilities that can't meet their biological, social or emotional needs.
It is often said that Canadians don't have any influence over the Senate, our country's institution of sober second thought. But this is a moment when we have an opportunity to dialogue directly with the Senate about the importance of this Bill -- and this issue -- to Canadians.
We need to call on the Senate to do what is right after so many years of whale and dolphin captivity: stop protecting a small, marginal industry and start preventing the suffering and death of countless cetaceans.
Bill S-203 is a strong piece of legislation that has the power to end the outdated practice of using cetaceans for entertainment and profit. Do not let this Bill be derailed or stalled. <strong>Reach out to Canada's Senators </strong> and tell them that Bill S-203 deserves its due process and to be referred back to the Senate for third reading.
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