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

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

CELEBRATING INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY
Council members and witnesses from the Hupacasath First Nation, left, and Tseshaht First Nation, right, prepare to raise their respective flags in front of Port Alberni City Hall on Monday, June 21, 2021. The flags will permanently fly as part of the city’s reconciliation work. See more coverage from the flag raising ceremony on page A5. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Hupacasath, Tseshaht First Nations flags to fly at Port Alberni City Hall

Addition of permanent Indigenous flags are a response to reconciliation

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
B.C. teen who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Val Litwin is the latest candidate to declare his bid for the B.C. Liberal leadership. (Litwin campaign video)
Political newcomer joins contest for B.C. Liberal leadership

Val Litwin a former B.C. Chamber of Commerce CEO

Six United Way chapters around the province are merging into United Way B.C. (News Bulletin file photo)
United Way Central and Northern Island merging with other chapters around B.C.

Money raised in communities will stay in those communities, agency says

Golden Ears Mountains, captured in May 2021. (Black Press Media files)
2nd year of day passes required for entry into 5 provincial parks launches in B.C.

Pilot program seeks to protect the environment by addressing visitor surges amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Lincoln Mckoen. (YouTube)
Anglican bishop of the central Interior resigns over sexual misconduct allegations

Lincoln Mckoen was elected as a bishop of the Territory of the People region last year

The former Kamloops Indian Residential School on the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc reserve. (Allen Douglas/Kamloops This Week)
Tk’emlups preparing for archaeological work at B.C. residential school site where remains found

The 215 graves are, to the band’s knowledge, undocumented deaths for which it is still collecting records

Fans watch the warm-up before Game 6 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens in NHL playoff hockey action Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Montreal. Quebec’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions will allow 2,500 fans to attend the game for the first time in fourteen months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Two-thirds of Canadians say governments shouldn’t lift all COVID-19 restrictions

Poll reports Canadians who gained pandemic weight say they have gained 16 pounds on average

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Paul Bernardo is shown in this courtroom sketch during Ontario court proceedings via video link in Napanee, Ont., on October 5, 2018. Teen killer and serial rapist Paul Bernardo is set for a parole hearing today. The designated dangerous offender, has been eligible for full parole for more than three years. Bernardo’s horrific crimes in the 1980s and early 1990s include for kidnapping, torturing and killing Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy near St. Catharines, Ont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Banning
Killer rapist Paul Bernardo faces parole hearing today; victim families opposed

Designated dangerous offender has been eligible for full parole for more than three years.

Most Read