28 April 2014

The Courage of Her Convictions: Cllr Carr calls for plebiscite on whales in captivity

City Counsellor Adriane Carr has submitted a notice of motion for a plebiscite to be held during next November’s civic election in Vancouver on keeping whales and dolphins in captivity. This is important as the Park Board will be reviewing their cetacean in captivity by-law in 2015. 

Cllr. Carr has the courage of her convictions. Her brave stand is in great contrast to other civic leaders who speak but do not follow through; who demand media attention for themselves, but not a voice for others. Mayor Robertson and the Vision Park Board Commissioners believe only they should have the right to voice their opinions and make this decision. Cllr. Carr believes this is an issue that everyone should have the opportunity to speak on.

In 2010 I submitted a similar motion to the Park Board. COPE’s Loretta Woodcock seconded and supported my motion. Vision’s Sarah Blyth, Constance Barnes, Raj Hundal and Aaron Jasper opposed and voted against this motion, citing vague and mysterious ‘legal’ issues. Aaron Jasper, Chair of the Park Board at that time, chose to make very personal attacks on me and my integrity, rather than address the moral issues involved.  He did however promise a public process before the 2015 by-law review. Now he seems to think this should not happen; that staff should report and the current Commissioners decide.

As I stated in 2010, this is not just about whales and dolphins at the Vancouver Aquarium. This is about our fundamental right to express our views in a democratic manner. Unlike COPE and the Vancouver Green Party, the issue of whales in captivity has never been a part of Vision Vancouver’s platform. Rather than discussing this during the last election, they consciously chose not to express their views, letting their no vote to my motion in 2010 speak for itself.

I am gladdened that Sarah Blyth, Constance Barnes and Gregor Robertson have had a change of heart. I am proud that my mayor has stood up and said what he believes. But I am saddened that these same elected officials do not believe that the voters of Vancouver should have a say as well. Cllr Carr’s motion can change this. 

Mr. Mayor, City Councillors Affleck, Ball, Deal, Jang, Louie, Meggs, Reimer, Stevenson and Tang, do the right thing. Support this motion. Allow the people of Vancouver to express their views on this important issue. Let the people decide. Let democracy take its course. Let us once and for all settle this issue of whales and dolphins in captivity in Vancouver parks.


  1. As a Vancouver taxpayer, it doesn't matter what your position is on this subject, you should have a chance to vote on it. Its your money and land that is subsidizing this activity. And it goes on in your city. Why do the Mayor and the Vision Park Board Commissioners think we should not have a say?

  2. It has been heartening to see the change of heart that several Vision politicians have been expressing about this issue, but much of it sounds suspiciously non-committal. Without the chance for Vancouverites to say what they think about holding whales and dolphins in captivity, I fear that we cannot be sure this is not merely pre-election posturing that would lead to nothing but the status quo should Vision remain in power.