Elizabeth speaks in final debate for Bill S-203, Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins

On Monday, June 10th, 2019 in Bill S-203, Debate, Democracy, Issues, News, Parliament

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to speak today during the final hour of debate after several years of work on a bill that is important to the world’s whales.

I am particularly honoured to rise this morning because we are at the point that most members in this place appear ready to see this legislation pass. The legislation was first brought forward in the last few days of the Senate sitting of 2015. It has been, to put it mildly, a long haul.

The hon. member just raised concerns, and I think all concerns by my colleagues in this place are legitimate. However, it is important for anyone watching this debate to recognize that the bill is based on science.

Many scientists testified as to why it is critical that we stop keeping cetaceans in captivity. We understand why. They are obviously not akin to livestock, for instance. Cetaceans require the ocean. They require the space. They require acoustic communication over long distances. The scientists who testified before the committee who made the case so strongly made it based on science.

Yes, Canadians care. Yes, the school children who wrote to us in the thousands were not moved by the science; they were moved because they see movies and nature films and they understand that whales, dolphins and porpoises are of a different character than other animals.

I would reassure my friend that we could not just substitute the name for another species. Bill S-203 is firmly tied to the Fisheries Act. I do not think we would find any horses in the wild in the ocean. We have tied it down legislatively in such a way that others should not worry that there will be a creeping effect.

In the time remaining, I want to say how grateful I am for the non-partisan spirit. It has been my entire honour to be the sponsor of this legislation in the House. I am enormously grateful to my colleagues.

I mentioned the scientists. Let me thank Dr. Visser, who testified at committee, coming in by Skype from New Zealand in the days right after the Christchurch killings. It was an emotional time for everyone. I would also like to thank Dr. Naomi Rose, and from Dalhousie University, Dr. Hal Whitehead. Phil Demers, a former whale trainer at Marineland, offered excellent real-life testimony as to the cruelty of keeping whales in captivity.

Certainly Senator Wilfred Moore and Senator Murray Sinclair have done an enormous amount to help. So too has the government representative in the Senate, Senator Harder.

I also want to thank the Minister of Fisheries and his predecessor for taking companion elements in Bill S-203 and embedding them in Bill C-68. Bill C-68, the reform of the Fisheries Act, remains before the Senate.

I want to take a moment to urge all colleagues in the other place to move Bill C-68 through. I also urge everyone here, if there are amendments, to move Bill C-68 through, because the Fisheries Act is critically important on many scores, as well as being companion legislation to Bill S-203.

Again, in a non-partisan spirit, I want to thank the hon. member for Port Moody—Coquitlam, who we will miss in this place, and the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley. I also want to mention his constituent, Ben Korving, who put forward the legislation regarding zero-waste packaging. I pledge, as leader of the Green Party, to take on Ben Korving’s motion and make sure that it does not die in this place, because those members made a sacrifice to allow Bill S-203 to pass before we rise at the end of June.

I also want to thank the hon. member for Beaches—East York, a Liberal, and my friend from Courtenay—Alberni, who was gracious in his praise earlier.

Everyone pulled together on this. The member for Charlottetown, the parliamentary secretary, helped enormously.

I would once again like to thank my Bloc Québécois colleague, the member for Repentigny.

I know that there were Conservative colleagues who did what they could.

I cannot tell members how important this legislation is. I will close with a few words that we have not heard in this place before. They are from the book of Job. They are found in chapter 41, verse 1.

Behold, Behemoth,
which I made as I made you;…

He is the first of the works of God;…

Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook
or press down his tongue with a cord?
Can you put a rope in his nose
or pierce his jaw with a hook?…
Will traders bargain over him?
Will they divide him up among the merchants?…

On earth there is not his like,…
He sees everything that is high;
he is king over all the sons of pride.

To everyone in this place, let us think for a moment. We behold Leviathan. He belongs in the wild. He will never again be placed in a swimming pool in this country.

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