Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP MP Nathan Cullen took one for the team this week, agreeing to a request from Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor and their NDP colleagues to press pause on his private members bill to ensure another bill had the time it needed in Parliament to pass into law.
The bill, S-203, bans the captivity of whales and dolphins in Canada. The bill, first introduced in the Senate in 2015, passed this week.
The Vancouver Aquarium and Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ont. are the only two facilities in Canada that currently keep captive cetaceans. The animals at those facilities may remain, however no more are to be brought in.
The bill bans the capture of wild cetaceans, captive breeding and the import and export of those animals, with limited exceptions, namely an allowance for the rehabilitation and rescue of cetaceans.
“After years of delay, this bill banning the captivity of whales and dolphins is only one final step away from passing into law. But we are deeply concerned that with Parliament finishing in just a few short weeks and the bill currently scheduled for the final day, there is a very real risk that this bill may not be passed,” MacGregor explained prior to the bill passing.
NDP Fisheries Critic Gord Johns, Laurel Collins, the NDP candidate for Victoria and caucus colleagues Randall Garrison, and Rachel Blaney were also part of the request.
Cullen had to delay his private members bill to fulfill the request, which he noted wouldn’t have had time to be passed into law before Parliament ends anyway.
“I’ve heard from my NDP colleagues just how important this is,” he said. “Unfortunately, delays have left my own bill, the Zero Waste Packaging Act, without the time to pass through Parliament while also threatening a bill to save whales and dolphins from a life in captivity. It became clear that the right thing to do was to act to ensure that this positive step is enacted into law and we end once and for all the captivity of whales and dolphins.”
MacGregor said the scientific consensus is clear and agreed with the fisheries minister that “ethical and useful research” on the marine animals could occur in the wild.
“These are intelligent, social and sensitive animals that shouldn’t be kept in captivity. They should be free to roam the open ocean rather than being kept in tanks,” he said. “We are grateful for the significant advocacy Nathan has done toward cutting the unnecessary waste in consumer packaging, and our New Democrat team hopes to continue to fight for these urgent changes.”