MPs have voted in favour of Bill S-203, also known as the ‘Free Willy’ bill. Photo supplied

‘Free Willy’ bill demands end to whale captivity

MPs vote in favour of Bill S-203

A bill to ban whale and dolphin captivity in Canada appears to be on its way to receiving Royal Assent in Ottawa. MPs voted in favour of Bill S-203, affectionately known as the ‘Free Willy’ bill, Tuesday in the House of Commons.

“In captivity, cetaceans suffer confinement, isolation, health problems and reduced lifespans,” Courtenay-Alberni NDP MP Gord Johns said. “All the facts are there. Given the evidence, it doesn’t make sense. Captive facilities can’t provide for their social and biological needs.”

A single amendment to the bill would have required a re-vote in the Senate, where S-203 languished for years.

The bill was tabled in 2015.

“The Conservatives tried to kill it,” Johns said. “It finally made its way to the House just recently after three-and-a-half years. Any amendment would have killed the bill, essentially.”

He credits the thousands of Canadians, many in his riding, who lobbied their offices in the name of animal welfare.

“We spent a lot of time working the phones,” Johns said. “It was high drama at Fisheries and Oceans committee.”

He also credits the offices of Green Party leader Elizabeth May, and NDP MP/Fisheries Critic Fin Donnelly for helping push the bill through.

“It’s an historic piece of animal rights legislation that people have been trying to advance for many years. It was incredible to see not just across the country, but internationally, the amount of people that were involved, that wanted to see this legislation in place…We’re elated.”

The bill will soon come back to the House for a vote.

Besides banning captivity, Bill S-203 includes a grandfather clause for animals already in facilities in Canada. It would permit research, the rescue of animals in distress, and ban breeding and trade of reproductive materials.

Just Posted

Driver who killed Shuswap motorcyclist receives absolute discharge

Chase family speechless following decision by BC Review Board

Boat sails from trailer to pavement at Sicamous Highway 97A intersection

Alberta resident charged with transporting an insecure load

Collision with hydro pole cuts power to thousands in the Shuswap

Minor injuries to the driver were reported; power was restored by the following morning

Man arrested in Kelowna following Shuswap vehicle thefts, pursuit

Suspect wanted in Alberta allegdly also stole several vehicles near Sicamous over the weekend

Guess Who has started a band in the Shuswap? Legendary guitarist Donnie McDougall

Band to play pair of shows in the Malakwa area before setting out on tour

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Silverbacks add experienced defence, forward to roster

Trades made with emphasis on adding veteran players to 2019-20 lineup

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

Summerland clinic will be closed on August long weekend

Medical office assistant needed at Rosedale Medical Clinic

Our history in pictures: Earth-moving moment with Big Lou

The date is May 28, 1976. One houseboat sits idly as Big… Continue reading

B.C. shipyard to get one-third of $1.5 billion frigate-repair contract

The federal government has promised to invest $7.5 billion to maintain the 12 frigates

Anglican Church to review governance structure after same-sex marriage change fails

Some say the current system to change doctrine gives too much voting power to a smaller class of bishops

Most Read