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View Bruce Stanton Profile
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2019-06-21 14:54 [p.29473]
I have the honour to inform the House that when this House did attend Her Excellency this day in the Senate chamber, Her Excellency the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms—Chapter 9.
C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada—Chapter 10.
S-203, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts (ending the captivity of whales and dolphins)—Chapter 11.
C-82, An Act to implement a multilateral convention to implement tax treaty related measures to prevent base erosion and profit shifting—Chapter 12.
C-59, An Act respecting national security matters—Chapter 13.
C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence—Chapter 14.
C-77, An Act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 15.
C-78, An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act—Chapter 16.
C-84, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting)—Chapter 17.
C-58, An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 18.
C-88, An Act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 19.
C-93, An Act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis—Chapter 20.
C-102, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020—Chapter 21.
C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tariff and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act—Chapter 22.
C-91, An Act respecting Indigenous languages—Chapter 23.
C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families—Chapter 24.
C-75, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 25.
C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia's north coast—Chapter 26.
C-83, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another Act—Chapter 27.
C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 28.
C-97, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019 and other measures—Chapter 29.
It being 2:55 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, September 16, 2019, at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 2:55 p.m.)
The 42nd Parliament was dissolved by Royal Proclamation on September 11, 2019.
Aboriginal languagesAboriginal peoplesAccess for disabled peopleAccess to informationAdjournmentAgriculture, environment and natural res ...British ColumbiaBudget 2019 (March 19, 2019)C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tarif ...C-102, An Act for granting to Her Majest ...C-48, An Act respecting the regulation o ...
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View Rob Nicholson Profile
View Rob Nicholson Profile
2019-06-10 11:16 [p.28781]
Mr. Speaker, I am rising in the House to speak to Bill S-203. Despite good intentions, this legislation is flawed in its current form. It should come as no surprise that there are many issues with this bill. In the short time it has been before the House for consideration, one of the major problems identified is an English-French language conflict in the text of the bill.
As we all know, Canada is a bilingual country. Our two official languages are French and English, and all legislation drafted and passed in Parliament reflects this. Anyone who has ever read these documents knows that the English text is on the left side, while the French text is on the right. We also know that Canadian laws and legislation must be applied in the same manner for all Canadians, regardless of language. This is fundamental for ensuring a fair justice system, which is key to our democracy. Otherwise, it would be grossly unfair and inhumane for a state to subject its citizens to different laws and penalties based on the language they speak. I hope in this place, and across Canada, we can all agree on that.
That is why I believe the mistake in Bill S-203 was an unfortunate oversight made by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. Issues like this are more likely to happen when legislation is rushed through the process without being subject to a thorough study. As members may know, Bill S-203 was given only two meetings before it was pushed ahead without amendment.
It began on March 18, 2019. In a meeting of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, the government member from Miramichi—Grand Lake identified an important and significant language conflict in the text of Bill S-203. The following is a quote from the Evidence, as the member questioned a department official on this issue:
Another thing that would need to be clarified for me is clause 4 of Bill S-203 to prohibit the importation to Canada of living cetaceans as well as cetacean tissue or embryos, subject to a special permit. Apparently the English text of the clause refers to permits issued pursuant to proposed subsection 10(1.1) of WAPPRIITA [the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act] while the French version of the text is silent on the type of importation permit required. That sounds very odd. I wouldn't know of any other piece of legislation in which the French version would be different from the English version.
The departmental official replied, “I am not completely sure about the two clauses you are referencing. I haven't done a comparison of the English to the French so I don't have a response for you on that.” In response, the member asked, “Do you think we should clarify that?” The departmental official replied, “It would be important to make sure that the intent in both the English and the French is the same.”
Interestingly, it was a member of the current government, from a bilingual province, who flagged this critical language concern. It is also interesting how the department official stressed the importance of getting the language right.
The story does not end there. It continues.
On March 26, 2019, the Honourable J.C. Major, a former Supreme Court justice, penned a letter to all members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. He, too, identified the same language conflict as the member did. However, rather than merely stating his concern, he elevated the issue to be a constitutional matter. In addition to that, he informed the committee that this part requires amendment.
This is what the Honourable J.C. Major wrote to the members of the committee in his letter:
I have reviewed the proposed Section 7.1 which is scheduled as an amendment to Bill S-203 of the Wild Animal and Plant Protection Regulation of International and lnterprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA).
In addition I have reviewed the French to English and English to French review certified by...ABCO International which on review concludes that the wording of Section 7.1 between the French and English version is starkly different. The question raised is whether the difference is so material that compliance is affected. In my opinion the differences are material and confusion is inevitable and an amendment is the only remedy that will clarify the intent and purpose of Section 7.1.
Canada, by virtue of the Federal Government's legislation, confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada and evidenced by the Charter of Rights, is officially bilingual. In addition, under S.18 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Part 1 of the Constitution Act 1982), both English and French are made equally authoritative.
Given that both languages are authoritative and that differences between the French and English drafting of Section 7.1 are materially different, it is apparent that revisions by way of amendment of that section would by its uniformity confirm Parliament's intention as the section would then be clear to parties affected by it and invaluable to the judiciary.
The latter consideration is important as explained below as case law is replete with decisions evidencing the difficulty the courts in all provinces have from time to time reconciling statutory conflicts and either succeeded in doing so or entering an acquittal.
Section 7.1 of Bill S-203 is an enforcement provision under the Act. Given the conflict in the English and French versions of the proposed legislation its passage without a clarification amendment would, in the event of an illegal violation and subsequent prosecution, present a dilemma to the court. An obvious example being that an application under the English version would be required to meet the conditions set out in s. 10(1.1) whereas an application adhering to the French version would not. In the result the same law would be different depending on the site of the application. Should a charge be laid under the proposed Section 7.1 the difficulty described would be left to the court then to attempt a reconciliation of the conflict in the language and if not possible to strike down the section and order an acquittal.
The foregoing is a brief response to the difficulties that are inevitable if there is no amendment clarifying the intent of the legislation.
It is of value to consider the unequivocal recommendation number 35 of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada which concluded “the English and French versions of a bilingual Act must be identical in substance”.
My observation is that the member and the former Supreme Court justice both share the same concern: There is a language conflict in the bill's text. That common ground should be encouraging. However, what happened next in the committee at clause-by-clause was anything but. My party brought forward two amendments. One would make the English text read the same as the French, and the other would make the French text read the same as the English. Both amendments were rejected by the government, and Justice Major's legal opinion was ignored.
My second observation at committee was about the four government amendments that the member for Miramichi—Grand Lake suddenly withdrew at clause-by-clause. The withdrawals came as a surprise to the opposition members, because they were sensible amendments. Their intent was largely to coordinate Bill S-203 with the Liberals' own Bill C-68, which I can understand. Both bills share overlapping objectives, and if both were to pass, their implementation could clash or create confusion. In short, it made little sense for the member to make those withdrawals, especially when the changes were responsible ones that the Conservatives were prepared to support.
Here we are then. This is the second hour of third reading of Bill S-203. This bill is flawed. A former Supreme Court justice was called in. Bill S-203 is a constitutional challenge in waiting, and the scariest thing is that this bill is about to come into force.
This is as good a time as any to remind all members of the House that it is our responsibility as parliamentarians to ensure that the bills we pass are constitutional and legally sound.
Given the government's majority position, this decision ultimately weighs on the Liberal government to do what is right. It must act in the best interests of Canadians. That action is passing legally sound and constitutional legislation.
So here we are, at the second hour of third reading debate. The bill, in its current form, is flawed. A former Supreme Court justice has weighed in on the constitutionality, and those changes needed to be made. Now is a good time to remind all members of the House that it is our responsibility as parliamentarians to ensure that all laws we pass are constitutional and legally sound.
Given these reasons, I hope the government reconsiders its position on Bill S-203.
View Blaine Calkins Profile
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2019-06-10 11:35 [p.28783]
Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that I rise today to speak to Bill S-203, which on its surface seems to be popular and appeals to the emotional drives behind it. Like many Canadians, I have seen cetaceans in captivity at places like SeaWorld and the Vancouver Aquarium; and at places like Marineland, where personally I have never been. I just want to put this in context.
This bill is designed to shut down one business in Canada. There is only one business in Canada actively pursuing or using cetaceans right now for the purpose of entertainment. That is what I want to talk about in this bill.
I am not against the notion that, if Canadians are by and large against having cetaceans in captivity, we can have that conversation. Of course we can have that conversation. It is the approach that this piece of legislation is taking that concerns me. It concerns me because I am a hunter and an angler. I am a guy who grew up on a farm and used animals every day at every stage and walk in my life. I am a guy who represents two areas of my constituency. One area hosts the Ponoka Stampede and one area hosts the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer.
I am also a conservationist. I have a zoology degree. I am pretty sure the guys who are laughing at me right now probably do not. I am going to ask that they just sit and think about this for one second. Many scientists appeared before the committee in the Senate and the committee in the House of Commons. They were people with not just bachelor of science degrees in zoology but with Ph.D.s. They were very concerned by the precedent that this piece of legislation would set. I asked the question in the committee whether we could end cetacean captivity in Canada in a simpler way, such as by just ending the permits of this particular business. We could do that by making a small change to the Fisheries Act and to the plant and animal transfer act.
However, this bill would change three things. It would change the Criminal Code of Canada and would do some interesting things. The bill is not about how humans handle animals or about the welfare or treatment of animals in people's care. The bill would, for the first time ever, make it a criminal act in Canada to keep an animal in captivity. That is the first time in our legislation anywhere that having an animal in captivity would be considered an illegal act. It would be illegal in the Criminal Code of Canada to breed animals, and these particular cetaceans—
An hon. member: Oh, oh!
View Blaine Calkins Profile
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2019-06-10 11:38 [p.28784]
Mr. Speaker, all I am asking for is the same respect I granted the speakers from other political parties while I sat and listened to them.
The problem, as I and the people I represent see it, is with the Criminal Code amendments as well as the follow-through and execution of this piece of legislation, which creates a framework and structure whereby anybody can add onto that by simply adding a comma into the legislation and saying that horses can no longer be kept or used for breeding or for purposes of entertainment. I am not saying that is going to happen, but the structure is actually there in the legislation to do it. One has to ask the question why this would need to be done. Why do we need this sledgehammer in legislation to effect the change we are looking for?
We are known by the company we keep. If we look at the organizations that are publicly and vocally expressing support for this bill, we see they call for the end of things like rodeos, fishing, eating animals and raising animals on a farm. These organizations, like Animal Justice and some SPCAs, call for these kinds of things. This is the company that this piece of legislation is keeping.
As I said, I am actually okay with it. I understand the science behind cetaceans and that not all cetaceans do well in captivity, but we also have to be logical. We have to think with our heads too about whether this is the right way to go. I will give an example. Dr. Laura Graham, who has a Ph.D., testified at committee and said there is no actual definition of cruel anywhere in this bill. As I said, it would create new definitions. For the very first time, it would make it illegal and criminalize the breeding of animals. This is something that is a very dangerous precedent for anybody involved in animal husbandry or any of these industries.
Dr. Laura Graham says that the definition of cruel is not anywhere in this bill, and as a scientist, she finds the lack of objective assessment troubling. She has also observed that the people pushing this bill are dismissing the importance of zoos and aquariums in educating the public and eliciting a concern for conservation and saving the planet.
As a matter of fact, she highlighted a very specific case about Vaquita dolphins down in the Gulf of Mexico, of which there are about 10 left; that is all that is left. If we were to use the facilities in Vancouver, Marineland and various SeaWorld installations as something other than entertainment, but rather as a conservation tool, through captive breeding programs we could potentially some day get to the point where we could release a viable population of Vaquita dolphins back into the wild.
I will get back to Dr. Graham in a second. When I was talking to Senator Sinclair at committee, I asked him about this notion of going to a national park, for example. Where I live in Alberta, there is a park called Elk Island National Park, which is not the typical national park that people think of when they go to national parks in their neighbourhoods. Elk Island National Park is a completely fenced-in enclosure. It is a captive facility for the purpose of breeding and population enhancement. People buy a park pass and go in there for the purpose of seeing that wildlife. They may have other purposes, but make no doubt about it, they go there to see the elk and the bison. There has just been a relatively successful, depending on the standards one wants to measure it by, reintroduction of bison into Yukon. There has been reintroduction of bison into Banff National Park, which would not have happened without the captive facility and the breeding program that went with it to re-establish this population.
The whole argument behind getting rid of cetacean captivity is an emotional one. I get it. Look, I have those same convictions when I look at animals in captivity as well. As a guy who goes hunting and fishing and sees all kinds of things in the wild, I get those same heartstring tugs that everybody else gets. I am not some cold and cruel individual. I get the arguments. However, as a conservationist, I also know that we need to make use of every tool available to us in order to help reintroduce wildlife lost through bad practices or mismanagement. Not everybody in the world does things as well as Canada, and we do not do some things all that well either.
However, we have an opportunity to ask ourselves if this bill is actually going to do more harm than good in the long run. It is the same emotional tug that wants us to end the captivity of whales and dolphins that never would have created these facilities in the first place. The City of Vancouver made the choice to end cetacean captivity for the purposes of entertainment without needing this big piece of legislation to do it, yet that facility is still used for rescue and rehabilitation of cetaceans.
It could just as easily use that facility to save a population of belugas, such as the population of belugas in the St. Lawrence Seaway. We know from the experience at Marineland that belugas are actually breeding quite well there. This legislation would be for the express purpose of making that breeding impossible or illegal, actually to the point that someone could go to jail for it. What is that going to do? It is going to split up that family pod at Marineland. It is going to separate the males from the females, and it is going to create the exact same issue that others are arguing captivity is causing in the first place. It is going to create divisiveness and stress in those families.
We know that belugas in captivity are quite successful at breeding. They have a very high success rate. They have a very high birth rate and a very high survival rate. We have populations of belugas right now in the world that are in trouble. If we do not get the environmental conditions right in nature, in the wild, before those populations are actually gone for good, we would have an opportunity to save those genetics. We could actually use the revenue from letting people come and watch them to help the science and research and help that captive breeding program do more good than harm in this particular case.
That is what I am asking my friends in the House to consider. Yes, it is going to be very popular to vote in favour of this bill. We have Free Willy and Blackfish and others movies that create the desire to do what we think is right.
Dr. Laura Graham talked about Dr. Jane Goodall. She had the same feeling about keeping chimpanzees in captivity, and then she changed her mind. As the habitat was encroaching on the natural range of these chimpanzees, as she saw how zoos and other captive facilities were treating these animals and as research and knowledge expanded, she changed her mind. I am simply asking my colleagues to at least consider that before passing this flawed legislation.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
View Rob Nicholson Profile
2019-05-10 13:43 [p.27649]
Madam Speaker, this debate will continue, but I want to ask the hon. member if she has had an opportunity to compare what is in her bill to what is in the government's Bill C-68, which is now before the Senate. That bill covers a lot of ground, but a number of the issues are very similar, if not identical, to what is in her private member's bill. I will ask her to comment.
View Mel Arnold Profile
View Mel Arnold Profile
2019-05-10 13:54 [p.27651]
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak to Bill S-203, an act to amend the Criminal Code and other acts, ending the captivity of whales and dolphins.
The proposed bill amends the Criminal Code to create offences respecting cetaceans in captivity. It also amends the Fisheries Act to prohibit the taking of cetaceans into captivity and the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act to require a permit for the import of a cetacean into Canada and the export of a cetacean from Canada.
The bill seems to be falling under the same umbrella, the same mode of operation of the government. It is being rushed through the House.
I was not able to attend the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans the day the bill was debated clause by clause, where amendments might be considered and brought back to the House. It is my understanding that even the Liberal government drafted and put forward four amendments to the bill. The Liberals could see the bill was flawed. They drafted corrections to a bill that had been out there for a lengthy period of time. However, when it came time to debate those amendments, the Liberals drew them back. It was speculated that they did that because of pressure from outside groups behind closed doors, under cabinet confidence, something the public cannot have access to, to withdraw those amendments.
That is a concerning factor for me. As the deputy shadow minister for Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and a member of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, we seem to see a trend recurring over and over again. The government promises consultation and claims to consult with locals and the people who are affected by changes to laws or regulations, the businesses, the aquariums, the fishermen. After the Liberals have done all that supposed consultation, they go behind closed doors where they appear to be lobbied by foreign interest groups, special interest groups. That lobbying seems to have more effect than the open and transparent consultation process that should take place with an open and transparent government, which, unfortunately, seems to be lacking right now.
Bill S-203 has been rushed through the House of Commons, without study. In the short time members of Parliament have had the bill, many issues have been flagged. These issues range from constitutional concerns to practical considerations that have been simply overlooked. This happens when legislation is rushed through and not carefully considered. Had the members been given more time to review and study the bill, many of these problems could have been solved with simple amendments. These amendments would benefit cetaceans, Canadians and stakeholders alike.
Another major issue was flagged recently in Bill S-203, which could impact hundreds of thousands of Canadians and their vacation plans over time. As it currently reads, Bill S-203 could negatively impact Canadian travel and tourist industry. More specifically, Bill S-203 could negatively impact travel agencies and Canadian vacationers who travel abroad and visit captive cetaceans in other countries. It has been argued that this is not the case, but the legal advice cannot irrefutably dissolve this. They cannot say for certain that this is not the case. It will take a court decision to say whether it is the case.
I have a letter from Marineland that raises the concerns in great detail and I will quote from that letter:
There was considerable discussion at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans with respect to the prohibition on using cetaceans in performances for entertainment purposes and the broadness of the legislation. The section reads:
“(4) Every one commits an offence who promotes, arranges, conducts, assists in, receives money for or takes part in any meeting, competition, exhibition, pastime, practice, display or event at or in the course of which captive cetaceans are used for performance for entertainment purposes unless such performance is authorized pursuant to a licence issued by the Lieutenant Governor in Council of a province or by such other person or authority in the province as may be specified by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.”
A plain reading of the legislation offers no ambiguity. 'Every one' means every human being in Canada commits an offence when they do any of the following “promotes, arranges, conducts, assists in, receives money for or takes part in.”
Travel agents in Canada promote and receive money for selling such excursions to constituents of yours who then 'take part in' and many end up 'promoting' the experience on their own social media in Canada.
The exemption that is proposed in the section will not apply to the shows that today travel agents in your communities are actively promoting and receiving money from, nor will it apply to your constituents who take part in these shows and may promote it by encouraging others on social media to participate in similar shows in the future.
Department of Justice lawyers were not able to refute Marineland of Canada's contention that travel agents who 'promote' and 'receive money from' selling tickets to such shows occurring outside of Canada will not be criminally charged for doing so.
While Marineland of Canada is not concerned about this clause of the legislation impacting our facility, as we simply will not offer such a show for entertainment purposes, we believe this clause highlights the perils of using Private Members' legislation originating in the Senate to amend the Criminal Code of Canada.
We've reviewed travel agency offerings throughout Canada and have found that there are travel agents in every single Canadian province that promote and sell tickets to, and therefore receive money from, captive swim with the dolphin experiences and captive cetacean shows that will be covered by S-203.
The Department of Justice lawyer suggesting it is unlikely these people, or Canadians who urge their friends on Facebook to swim with the dolphins on their next trip, will not be prosecuted does not go far enough in addressing what is clearly a flaw in S-203.
Every single Canadian has a positive obligation to comply with all relevant sections of the Criminal Code at all times, and simply stating that while an act might be illegal, because the person breaking the law is unlikely to be prosecuted, is not OK.
If members pass S-203 with the current wording contained in the 'entertainment prohibition', you will be criminalizing the actions of vacationers from your riding who head south and participate in these lawful activities and the travel agents in your riding and Province who sell these excursions.
Is it truly the intention to leave Canadians in a position where posting about their lawful experience in another country can become a criminal offence if they encourage others to swim with dolphins when they go on vacation?
Is it truly the intention to criminally charge travel agents in your riding for selling vacations to Hawaii, Mexico, Cuba, the Bahamas and including an excursion that involves swimming with dolphins or a captive cetacean show?
As it is currently written, that is what the legislation would do and what members would be endorsing if they voted in favour of it. It will certainly be of interest—
View Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2019-05-10 14:21 [p.27654]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate on Bill S-203, for which I have received a fair volume of correspondence from constituents in my riding of Calgary Shepard, whom I am pleased to represent. A lot of them were sent to me on behalf of various organizations across Canada that have been promoting Bill S-203 as a solution to cetaceans in captivity.
Before I continue on with the bill, I want to make one mention. The member for St. John's East had the best observation regarding a Senate bill I have ever heard in this chamber when he said it did not take advantage of creative acronym design. It has been four years and I will give him that. How acronyms are created with certain bill is probably one observation I have not made, so I will give him kudos for that one, but not for the content of what he said, especially on the oceans protection plan, which is a $1.5-billion plan, with very little spending so far. The Coast Guard ships that have been built are still in dock in Nanaimo with no crews to service them and make them ready for use in the field. I have not seen any actual spending of the dollars associated with the plan. That is the first part of my reply to what he mentioned.
With respect to the substance of the bill, I feel the need to provide an introduction. I have been writing back to my constituents who have been writing to me on Bill S-203, and I have had some back-and-forth conversations with a few of them on disagreements over some of the technical aspects of the bill.
One thing I want to mention is that the bill broaches a certain area of provincial jurisdiction—animal welfare laws, typically—by going after the Criminal Code. It is a way for Parliament to make a judgment call about a certain practice in Canadian society. In this case, it is the captivity of cetaceans.
I share the same concern that a lot of my constituents have and that a lot of members of Parliament in this chamber have expressed over the necessary protection of whales, dolphins and other aquatic animals, which is that nobody wants to see them suffer. The member for Sherbrooke brought up an example of what happens in the Russian Federation. Of course, there are examples all over the world of abhorrent animal husbandry and captivity practices that most of us would say are brutal and should not be happening. Unfortunately, they do, because people use animals for entertainment purposes and to generate an income.
With respect to some of the historical aspects, as I think another member mentioned, there have been no live captures since 1992, although it is true that beluga whales and bottlenose dolphins have been imported from foreign sources.
It has been reported in various CBC articles and other media that parts of this bill seem to be veering into areas of provincial jurisdiction over animal welfare laws. Ontario has already banned the captivity and breeding in captivity of orcas, which is one of the concerns I had with the bill going the route of amending the Criminal Code. Perhaps it is more of a process issue that I have.
Going back to the previous debate we had earlier today on Bill C-55, with respect to the intent of a bill like this one, Bill S-203, I do not think many members disagree with the principle of the matter; rather, it is the execution we have concerns with.
There are a few scientists I am going to quote, some of whom provided testimony at committees and some who of whom provided feedback through correspondence that the member for Cariboo—Prince George and I have received.
I want to mention that this is a very unusual bill, because it has received review at over 17 committee meetings in an eight-month period. It was tabled way back in 2015 and has been on the public record for quite a long time. It has been debated for quite a long time. It had what I would say was a difficult process through that other place, the Senate chamber, with several senators expressing deep concern over the technical aspects of the bill in its interaction between provincial laws and federal jurisdiction over the Criminal Code. That area is where I am going to express some of my concerns as well.
The provinces are responsible for passing animal welfare laws. In this chamber we have pronounced ourselves on matters affecting what I would also think are areas of at least partial provincial jurisdiction, as in the bestiality bill the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice mentioned earlier. I do not think there is anything wrong in going the route of the Criminal Code, but in this case in particular the member for North Okanagan—Shuswap mentioned that it could potentially criminalize individuals that the law did not intend to criminalize, such as the booking of travel vacations or some service provision in tourism.
I do not think that was the intent of the law. However, I have seen before, as I mentioned in the House on Bill C-55, that with regulations passed by officials, written by officials and confirmed through the gazetting process that the Government of Canada has, the intention is typically lost. Nice words are shared by officials about the intent of the bill when the members of Parliament and senators express their will by passing a piece of legislation, but then the actual execution is not there.
Sometimes this debate among officials lasts well over a decade, two or three decades of quibbling over exactly what the law permits one to do and to whom it can apply. I think the concerns expressed by the member for North Okanagan—Shuswap on our side are that the lens with which the Criminal Code will be applied may be broadened by officials in the departments at a later point, far beyond the lifespan of any member here, or at least our elected lifespan. I wish all members good heath.
I think there is a concern there about that mission creep, about going after individuals or applying the law to individuals whom we had not intended it to be upon. That is why many amendments were moved at committee by the opposition side to try to improve and clarify this particular piece of legislation, of course not to obstruct it. Attempting to amend a piece of legislation is never about obstruction. It is about an improvement to the bill, especially when the intent is there. The technical aspect, the delivery of the bill and its execution, is perhaps lacking.
I want to mention the scientists. The member for Cariboo—Prince George previously made comments about an email from Dr. Laura Graham, a professor at the University of Guelph. I am going to read the quote, and then perhaps I can express some of my thoughts on the scientists' view on the impact that this bill would have.
The member for Cariboo—Prince George said:
Her speciality is endocrinology and reproductive physiology of wildlife species, including looking at factors that can impact the welfare of wildlife species managed by humans and using science to solve some of the challenges wildlife managers face as they work toward optimizing the welfare of animals in their care.
Thereafter, that information can be used in the general practices of the Crown when it is managing wildlife populations on behalf of Canadians. I am going to read a direct quote from the correspondence that the member for Cariboo—Prince George read, so that I can remind the chamber of what Dr. Laura Graham said:
As an expert in endangered species physiology I can tell you that this bill is short-sighted and will do irreparable harm to critical research on the marine mammals listed under SARA, including the Salish Orca. Over 90% of what we know about marine mammal biology is based on research on individuals under human care. And we need these captive animals to develop research techniques that can be applied to free-ranging animals.
The discussion goes on from there. The quotations given by this particular specialist, I think, are really important to keep in mind.
Many members have said that the economic operations of the aquariums, and those operations that save marine mammals and then perhaps keep them temporarily in captivity so that they can nurse them back to health, typically have some research component. It is never a purely economic operation.
Again, I could be wrong in the case of Marineland, which seems to be the best example being used. I am a member from Calgary, after all, so I do not head out to Toronto too often. However, on this particular piece of legislation, I think the intent is there but the execution is lacking. As I read from the scientist, I think there will be harm done on the research side of things that we were not able to fix at committee. In eight months and 17 committee meetings, we were not able to reach that mechanical fixing of the bill.
That is why I will be voting against this piece of legislation, just as I have been telling my constituents that I would. I implore all members to look at that fact and to vote against this particular law.
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-03-18 18:38 [p.26091]
That it be an instruction to the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans that, during its consideration of Bill S-203, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts (ending the captivity of whales and dolphins), the Committee be granted the power to travel throughout Canada to hear testimony from interested parties and that the necessary staff do accompany the Committee, provided that the travel does not exceed 15 sitting days.
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-02-01 13:01 [p.25166]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak to Bill S-203, an act to amend the Criminal Code and other acts in order to end the captivity of whales and dolphins.
This bill would amend the Criminal Code to create offences respecting cetaceans in captivity. It would also amend the Fisheries Act to prohibit the taking of cetaceans into captivity and the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act to require a permit for the import of cetaceans into Canada and the export of cetaceans from Canada.
There are two facilities in Canada that have cetaceans in captivity. My comments will focus primarily on the one in my beautiful province of British Columbia, the Vancouver Aquarium.
Essentially, this bill would shut down the important research work done by professionals at the Vancouver Aquarium.
I listened to my colleague's passionate speeches on this important bill. I have listened to the leader of the Green Party, and while I know that her intentions are good, I am afraid her concerns are perhaps misstated.
The Vancouver Aquarium is an established not-for-profit marine science centre that has contributed to groundbreaking conservation research for over six decades. Research at the Vancouver Aquarium is conducted by world-class scientists, biologists, veterinarians, animal care technicians and scholars.
For over 60 years, scientists at the aquarium have delivered insights into a natural world. Situated on the shoreline of Stanley Park in British Columbia, the aquarium is ideally positioned to conduct research that provides real-world relevance. The knowledge acquired through these initiatives contributes to improved animal care, increased understanding of the biology of diverse species and effective conservation planning.
I have to also admit that I have spent a couple of nights in the Vancouver Aquarium. Another part of what the Vancouver Aquarium does is educate the next generation coming through our school systems.
I will share a secret. I am absolutely terrified of snakes, so camping out in the middle of the night with an anaconda, probably a 30-foot anaconda, in a tank a mere 12 feet away was of some concern for me, but my son and daughter, who took part in those overnight trips at the Vancouver Aquarium, both came away understanding more about what we could do to help our wild animals, beaches and oceans than they could have by reading a textbook any day.
Vancouver Aquarium researchers explore a wide range of topics, including veterinary sciences, nutrition, life history and habitat needs. Ocean Wise, a not-for-profit organization, whose vision is a world in which oceans are healthy and flourishing, conducts its research at the Vancouver Aquarium.
The Vancouver Aquarium leads the only marine mammal rescue centre in Canada, with a skilled team able to rescue stranded whales and dolphins. The aquarium has been rescuing and rehabilitating whales and dolphins along B.C.'s coast for over 50 years, with the intention to release healthy and recovered animals back to their natural habitats. The only cetacean currently in professional care at the aquarium is a rescued Pacific white-sided dolphin that had been deemed non-releasable by government authorities due to her inability to survive alone in the wild.
Those that stay in care are there because they must, for their survival, and are cared for at the highest standards, as per the Canadian Council of Animal Care guidelines. They also, in turn, contribute immensely to scientific research, as they accord scientists the opportunity to study their social interaction, their interaction with underwater acoustics and their communication with each other. It is in accredited aquariums that we have learned about cetacean physiology, their mechanisms and interactions that operate within them as a living system.
Team members of the Vancouver Aquarium have learned about their hearing and acoustic ability. They have learned much about their diet and their energy requirements, their lung mechanics and pulmonary function. They have tested field equipment such as hydrophones, mark-recapture bands and non-invasive attachments for satellite tags and cameras.
Research with animals at Vancouver Aquarium often carries on into the field. In the St. Lawrence Estuary, Vancouver Aquarium's scientists are measuring the acoustic communication of beluga whales to learn how we can mitigate the impact of underwater noise on that endangered population. They are studying the endangered killer whales, using images taken from a drone to measure and assess changes in the whales' length and girth and to determine if they are not getting enough fish to eat. All of that study starts at the Vancouver Aquarium.
Accredited aquariums and zoos have a unique expertise that is needed to save species that are at risk. This is not the time to be phasing out facilities and expertise that can help wildlife in an unknown future.
We have only begun to scratch the surface of what we can do with species survival programs and reintroduction projects for species at risk. Zoos and aquariums offer critical elements in these efforts that other stakeholders simply cannot.
Around the world, accredited facilities have helped save species such as the black-footed ferret, the California condor, and at the Vancouver Aquarium, the Panamanian golden frog. Vancouver Aquarium's marine biologists, veterinarians and scientists contribute to research on killer whales, narwhals, beluga whales, harbour porpoises, etc., because they have the necessary elements—veterinarians, biologists, husbandry experts and facilities—always trained and always ready. Programs like these take time to develop, and expertise is gained through experience.
The Marine Mammal Rescue Centre is the only hospital of its kind in Canada and now rescues, rehabilitates and releases more than 150 or more marine animals a year. These are wild animals that are found stranded or severely injured and are rescued under government permits.
I know my colleague from the Green Party will not like what I have to say and I accept that, but I am not alone in my belief that the work of science is extremely important to the protection of species at risk.
Just a few weeks ago, I received an email from Dr. Laura Graham, a professor at the University of Guelph. Her specialty is endocrinology and reproductive physiology of wildlife species, including looking at factors that can impact the welfare of wildlife species managed by humans and using science to solve some of the challenges wildlife managers face as they work toward optimizing the welfare of animals in their care.
I would like to read a direct quote from her correspondence. She said:
As an expert in endangered species physiology I can tell you that this bill is short-sighted and will do irreparable harm to critical research on the marine mammals listed under SARA, including the Salish Orca. Over 90% of what we know about marine mammal biology is based on research on individuals under human care. And we need these captive animals to develop research techniques that can be applied to free-ranging animals.
Dr. Graham, along with her colleague Dr. Sam Wasser, used a non-invasive method of monitoring hormones in the Salish orcas and determined they were losing their pregnancies due to a nutritional deficit.
Dr. Graham wrote:
And if this research hadn't been done and these orcas were managed according to demands of animal activists, we would have instigated restrictions on how close tourist boats can get to them and then watched with stupid looks on our faces as they slowly starved to death. And although there is a clause for research in Bill S-203, it is meaningless.
I have no doubt that those in favour of this bill have the best intentions at heart, but if they truly cared about the survival of the species, if they wanted to ensure their survival and not just pander to the demands of animal activists, they would look closely at this bill and come to the realization that science is important and we need to continue the life-saving research that groups like the Vancouver Aquarium and scientists provide.
As I have said, there are provisions within Bill S-203 that will interfere with the good work and accomplishments we have talked about today. As such, I look forward to seeing the bill go to committee, but I will not be voting for it.
View Robert Sopuck Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak on Bill S-203.
I am opposed to this bill. The bill is fundamentally flawed. I was interested to hear the previous two speakers conflate this particular bill with environmental conservation and the conservation of whales. This has nothing to do with conservation or the environment.
Any population ecologist worth their salt only considers the numbers of individuals who are in the population. With this particular bill, even though the previous speakers tried to conflate it with environmental protection, the only thing that counts are the numbers of cetaceans that are out there, the population size.
This bill will do nothing for the conservation of cetaceans or, indeed, the understanding of the natural world. This particular bill, in my view, is an emotional reaction to a problem that simply does not exist.
In terms of cetaceans, I know that the government is always pointing out the problem populations, and quite rightly so, the southern killer whale, the Atlantic right whale, the belugas in the St. Lawrence. I am pleased to say that in Manitoba, off the Churchill estuary, we have a population of beluga whales of 55,000 individual animals. Studies have shown that population is stable and/or increasing.
Obviously, interacting with cetaceans in the wild is desirable, but many Canadians simply do not have the opportunity to do so. I was interested in the parliamentary secretary's comments about the Arctic and narwhals. I think I am one of the few people in this House, apart from the member for Nunavut, who has actually seen narwhals and experienced their beauty in the wild. It is something that very few people will see. They are remarkable creatures.
Many Canadians, however, do not have the opportunities that people like myself or those in the science community have had. Viewing cetaceans in captivity may be the only opportunity for many to understand cetaceans. Again, if the only place a person from an urban area who does not have a chance to get out in the wild and view cetaceans can learn about cetaceans is in captivity, obviously there are communication tools that various facilities will use to inform the visitors about cetaceans, cetacean conservation and the issue of the endangered species, for example. These are very important communications tools.
Regarding Ontario, I have been advised that there was a lengthy public debate in Ontario, which included the creation of an independent and international scientific advisory panel. They produced a very comprehensive report. There was the creation of a technical advisory group, composed of stakeholders from across the country. There were public hearings. I have been advised that provincial legislation has been passed that expressly permits keeping marine mammals in humane care, and creates and implements stringent regulations regarding the care and treatment of marine mammals.
The member for Saanich—Gulf Islands talked about the issues of animal cruelty and so on, and it reminds me of the debate we had on Bill C-246. The slippery slope is alive and well when it comes to this type of legislation. Who knows where it will lead, to rodeos or medical research? Who knows where this will lead once a bill like this is passed?
In terms of Marineland, again the founder of Marineland, John Holer, who is sadly now deceased, spoke to the Senate committee on May 16, 2017. Some of the takeaways from his testimony were that Marineland employs over 100 people year round and 700 during the operation season; Marineland has employed over 50,000 people in its 56 years of successful operation; Marineland does not seek or rely upon any public funding; Marineland annually commits approximately $4 million a year to advertising, reaching more than 15 million people across Canada and the U.S.; and Marineland attracts close to a million visitors yearly to the Niagara region.
Obviously, the entire regional economy benefits from this tourism opportunity. Also of tremendous importance, thousands of special needs children, at least 3,500 per year, visit Marineland through special programs, including events like Autism Day.
What is important is looking at the population of cetaceans. I go back to the point that this particular bill has nothing to do with environmental conservation. Nobody should be led to believe that it does.
However, the humane holding of cetaceans in captivity, following veterinary-approved codes of practice, is a conservation tool that can be used to educate Canadians about cetaceans.
I recall, for example, the great debates that we had on Bill C-246, the animal rights bill, a private member's bill that a Liberal member of Parliament tabled. Thankfully, a number of people in the government caucus voted against that bill, despite the protestations of the member who introduced the bill that it would not affect any of the animal-use communities.
The animal rights movement is clever in how it pushes forward legislation or policy change. The process is to start with something that seems innocent and then keep going and going, and pretty soon who knows what will be banned? For example, once we ban cetaceans from captivity, what is next? Let us look at beluga whales for example.
There are 55,000 beluga whales in the Churchill River estuary during the summer months. They are hunted by Inuit people from Arviat further north. Taking a few and putting them in captivity would mean nothing to the population of beluga.
Right now, however, polar bears are allowed to be held in captivity. Winnipeg has a world-famous, multimillion dollar polar bear exhibit. The number of polar bears is less than half that of beluga whales. What is next? This can go on and on.
Some people have a real antipathy towards zoos in general or animals in captivity, but this is how these campaigns start and this is the reason I will be actively opposing this legislation.
In terms of cetaceans, and as someone who has been to the Churchill River estuary and seen beluga whales, I have also been fortunate enough to see narwhals, which are incredible creatures. I can certainly understand the attachment people have to these beautiful creatures. Again, we admire them because we are taught about the beauty of nature and wildlife in facilities that are responsible and effective. However, without these facilities, many Canadians would never see such creatures.
The parliamentary secretary talked about the conservation of cetaceans. I want to tell him and the government caucus about the devastating effect that the new marine mammal regulations will have on the community of Churchill.
As I said, in the estuary in the summertime beluga whales are there in the thousands. As soon as a boat is launched, they swim up to it and there is nothing that can be done about it. These ridiculous marine mammal regulations that the government is insisting on enforcing would potentially kill this $10 million industry.
I made a statement about Churchill earlier in the House today. Ecotourism is a $10 million a year industry, employing 300 people. But the community of Churchill is on the ropes economically, and the whale and polar bear watching industries are the lifeblood of that particular community.
In the new marine mammal regulations, there is a minimum distance requirement of 50 metres. In the Churchill River estuary, which is not a very large area, there could be 30,000 beluga whales. How can they be avoided? Interestingly enough, the marine mammal regulations do not apply to large vessels that may be plowing up and down the estuary. They can plow through belugas willy-nilly, pardon the pun.
In terms of the ecotourism industry in the Churchill area, the very gentle environmental “use” this industry makes of the Churchill River estuary is the ultimate in sustainability, yet the government is promulgating marine mammal regulations that could potentially put that industry out of business.
I heard about the situation with humpback whales in Conception Bay. The operators there offer people the opportunity to slip into the water and swim with the whales. That would be completely banned under the new regulations. I have been told that the operator in Conception Bay lost $60,000 in business.
None of these regulations will have any positive impact on cetacean populations whatsoever. I guarantee there has been no scientific proof that these marine mammal regulations will improve the situation of cetaceans in Canada. All they will do, as the Liberal government has done over and over again, is to hurt remote rural communities. I find that unacceptable.
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