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

Editorial: Put the phone away — just try it

Have you ever been at a restaurant with someone who won’t stop looking at their phone?

LAKE FLASHBACK: Garbage dumping and the Youbou sawmill: two subjects that never seemed to go away

Plus this week: LCSS rugby machine, and Lois Gage takes over Area I for hubby, John Ward

In Bloom Wildflower Festival celebrates spring in Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve

The Nature Conservancy of Canada’s annual event is back for its 13th year.

Once ‘The Foreigner’ arrives, everything changes in Tilghman County, Georgia

Funny, but touching, too, this play will have you in stiches. Don’t miss it

VIDEO: Killer whales hunt for seals in Vancouver harbour

Bigg’s killer whales feed on marine mammals like seals, sea lions, dolphins and even other whales

Cowichan Coffee Time: Awards, new digs and fundraising totals

• St. John Ambulance First Responder Divisional Superintendent Glyn Trafford got a… Continue reading

VIDEO: B.C.’s waving granny gets incredible send-off from school kids

Tinney Davidson has been waving at students on their way to school for over 11 years, but is moving in a month

Struggling B.C. adoption agency elects new board that intends to keep it open

The previous board announced that Choices would close May 31

Island-born Snowbirds pilot enjoying homecoming in skies over Comox

Logan Reid once stood clinging onto the fence outside the Comox Air… Continue reading

Attack on student in Courtenay ‘way more than bullying’, says mom

A Comox Valley mother said “it was way more than bullying” at… Continue reading

Vancouver man, 19, charged in human trafficking case involving teen girl

The 16-year-old girl was reported missing and later discovered in Vancouver

Blaine, Wash. inn owner, charged with smuggling people into B.C., granted bail

Robert Joseph Boule ordered to turn away anyone indicating a plan to enter Canada illegally

Most Read