Elizabeth May sponsors whale and dolphin captivity bill

OTTAWA – Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands) will sponsor Bill S-203, the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, as it moves to the House of Commons today after passing the Senate last night. The bill was originally introduced by Senator Wilfred Moore in December 2015, then sponsored by Senator Murray Sinclair after Senator Moore retired.

“Despite repeated efforts by Conservative senators to frustrate the democratic process with an array of delaying tactics, I am happy that this important bill has finally made its way through the upper house,” said Ms. May. “The legislation protects cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) from the trauma of confinement for human entertainment by banning the captive breeding, import, export and live captures of these remarkable animals.”

In a letter to her constituents Ms. May explained: “In the wild, many cetacean species live their entire lives with their families called pods that may contain up to 100 members. Different pods have their own dialects, whistles particular to their family. Orcas can travel up to 150 kilometres a day, reaching speeds of 45 kilometres an hour and dive more than 200 metres deep. In comparison, when captive an orca’s range is only 1/10,000th of 1 percent the size of its natural home range.”

Throughout the legislative process Ms. May’s work was instrumental in ensuring that S-203 made it through the Senate. Not only did she write to Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer denouncing the tactics his senators were employing, but she also filed a formal complaint that Marineland’s activities violate the Lobbying Act. The Lobbying Commissioner has yet to rule on that complaint.

“Keeping these highly evolved creatures in captivity is cruel as is the entertainment value of watching whales and dolphins swim circles in concrete tanks,” said Ms. May. “The sooner the House of Commons passes this bill the better.”