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.

06 April 2014

The time has come to phase out whales and dolphins from Stanley Park

The time has come for a change at the Aquarium. It is time for them to phase out the containment of whales and dolphin (cetaceans). If they won’t do it voluntarily then they must be compelled to. Next year the Park Board will re-negotiate the terms of the Aquariums lease in Stanley Park. Part of that lease must be the phasing out of whales and dolphins.

This week a lot of publicity has surrounded the announcement by two Vision Vancouver Park Commissioners that they want to see the end of whale captivity at Vancouver Aquarium. Sarah Blyth and Constance Barnes say that they want the Aquarium to phase out whales and dolphins. I applaud their statements but I do have some misgivings. Both Commissioners Blyth and Barnes voted against a motion I brought to the Park Board in 2010 for a plebiscite during the 2011 election. Neither have called for a vote in this November’s civic election.  “I’d like to see the question asked, "Should whales be kept in captivity at this time?’” Blyth said (in the Courier). “But we can’t bind another board to a decision we’ve made.” 

There is only limited time to get a plebiscite question onto the November ballot. I hope Commissioners Blyth and Barnes will have the courage of their convictions and bring a motion to the Park Board asking City Council to put the question to the people. Let the citizens of Vancouver have their say.

Both COPE and the Green Party are on record favouring holding a city-wide vote on the phasing out of whales and dolphins. I hope Vision Vancouver will join and real action can be taken this year.

You can speak out by writing to the Park Board and City Council asking for a vote. Write to: 
PBcommissioners@vancouver.ca and mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca