Question Period: Protection of Cetaceans

By: The Hon. Marty Klyne

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Whale tail breaching water, Newfoundland

Hon. Marty Klyne: Senator Gold, people around the world are saddened by the recent death of Kiska, the world’s loneliest and Canada’s last captive orca. Captured in 1979, her five calves died young, and she lived alone in Marineland in Niagara Falls for over a decade.

Kiska also inspired Canada’s ban on new whale and dolphin captivity, yet Marineland still holds over 30 belugas, five dolphins and plans to sell the park. Many Canadians hope to see the remaining whales moved to a planned whale sanctuary in Nova Scotia or, otherwise, to the best possible homes.

Does the Government of Canada support this goal? How can the public work with the government to prioritize and expedite helping these whales?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question. The well-being of our marine species is a priority for the government. The government remains, through Fisheries and Oceans Canada, committed to protecting the welfare of cetaceans based upon the authorities granted.

As you know, the Bill S-203 received Royal Assent and that, going forward, bans the captivity of cetaceans in Canada under the Fisheries Act and the Criminal Code.

There are amendments and exemptions — I won’t repeat them. If a request that a cetacean be moved to another facility is received by the department, the minister would review this application and be guided by the policies in place in order to make a decision as to whether to issue the appropriate Fisheries Act permit.

As you know, of course, in Canada, aquatic parks and zoos, animal care laws and private property of animals — like Kiska — are under provincial jurisdiction. The federal government has a role to play and will play it responsibly.

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