What Do MPP’s in Ontario Think About Marineland?

Captive Beluga at Marineland. Cred: Jo-Ann McArthur (We Animals)

Captive Beluga at Marineland. Cred: Jo-Ann McArthur (We Animals)

Bill 80, which carries amendments to the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty (OSPCA) Act was debated earlier this week in the Legislature. The bill would introduce the first ever industry specific regulations and also ban the possession or breeding of a captive Orca after the date the bill was first introduced – March 23, 2015. The Bill is the end result of nearly three years of consultation and research and comes out of suggestions from a report chaired by United of British Columbia Scientist David Rosen as well as an industry report prepared by the Canadian Association for Zoos and Aquariums.

The debate earlier this week was the second reading and the first chance for MPP’s to actually comment on the bill. That discussion saw MPP’s offering up honest opinions on Marineland and saw many sounding exactly like the “radical animal liberationists” who protest against the park. We want their words to speak for themselves – so below is a highlight of some of the best comments. Only a few Conservative MPP’s spoke out against the amendments, and so far the amendments have the full support of the Majority Liberals and the NDP. You can always follow debate on this bill on the Legislative Assembly site. While reading these comments, keep in mind that people have been sued for millions of dollars by Marineland for saying these exact things.

Ann Hogarth (Barrie / Liberal) – “Marine mammals are complex, diverse and magnificent creatures with unique needs that require the right standards of care. However, they are far more magnificent and awe-inspiring when they are in their natural environment…”

“The students in Ontario classrooms believe that these wonderful creatures deserve the best care as well. They are in favour of this. You might think that they aren’t, but my little kindergarteners, when we talked about this, made it very clear that they think they should be free in the ocean where they belong

You have a much better look at marine animals on the Internet or somewhere else than if you’ve ever gone to Marineland—and I must tell you that one of the most wonderful trips our family ever had was to Marineland, but the part that my children liked the best was at the petting zoo. It was not watching poor Kiska. If you have ever been sprayed by that water from Kiska’s pool, you know that we need this legislation. You would walk around for the rest of the day smelling quite nasty because of that pool water.

We need to pass this bill immediately.”

Bas Balkissoon (Scarborough / Liberal) – “I’m proud to join the minister in speaking in support of our government’s proposed amendments to the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, and to join the growing chorus of Ontarians and people around the world who are demanding better care and treatment for marine mammals.”

“I say to everyone, this is about protecting the animals. But as I mentioned in my deliberation, the ministry gets a lot of mail, and this file has probably the most mail we receive on many occasions. Some of you may remember the incident at Marineland a couple of years ago. This is as a result of that. The government is taking action, as requested by the public.

I think this is the job we’re here for. We’re here to respond to the public when there’s a serious concern, especially when it comes to animal welfare. Animals can’t express to you their dissatisfaction like human beings can. We have to take the lead from the public, which has seen what has happened in that situation. As a government, we have to take the appropriate action to make sure we protect these animals.

This bill is just another step in the right direction to provide the community with what they were asking us to do. We’re looking at experts in the field who will provide us with a management plan and a proper care plan so that anyone who has one of these mammals in captivity would be required to do the right thing.”

Yasir Naqvi (Ottawa Centre / Liberal) – “In October 2003, we asked Dr. David Rosen, a respected marine biologist with the University of British Columbia, to lead a team of experts to prepare a report on the care and maintenance of marine mammals in captivity. Dr. Rosen’s report is available on the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services’ website. Ultimately, his report showed that our current standards are inadequate”

Lou Rinaldi (Quinte West / Liberal)“I find it hard to understand how human beings are able to sit back and, for enjoyment, watch whales like Kiska in a tank. Frankly, it’s like being in prison, I would think…”

Cheri DiNovo (High Park / NDP) – “…my goodness, just because you have a lot of money, you shouldn’t be able to get a whale and keep it in a bathtub.”

Mr. Michael Mantha (Algoma-Manitoulin / NDP) – As a father, what did you do when you were from northern Ontario? You came down to Marineland. You went out and visited the orcas; you went out and visited the whales; and you went out to the facilities where these beautiful creatures were swimming in their environment. It reflected a couple of questions that my kids would ask me: “Where are they going after we leave, Dad?” So it made me think some more.

Listening to what the member from Parkdale–High Park said—sometimes you have to stand up for the most vulnerable. It really clicked in to me. It just jogged something in my mind.

Again, as a father, when you’re back home and you’re talking to your kids—would we accept walking by the yard of somebody who has a dog, on about a two-foot chain, running around in a circle? What would I say to my kids there? It makes you think. This makes you think.

We have a responsibility here as legislators as to—if you don’t have a position and you don’t know what to feel, it’s your job to go out and find people who are passionate about the issue, to find out what it means to them.

I do want to add that the powers of an animal are great. I need to introduce you to my dog, Abby, at home. She does have control over me, and she does make me do certain things, and I do wonderful tricks with her. But she’s part of my family. She’s a family member. That’s the difference.”

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