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

Latest round of Columbia River Treaty talks wrap up

It was the first oppportunity for local Indigenous Nations to participate as observers

Close to 1000 people excpected to hear international evangelist Angus Buchan this weekend

The Mighty Men’s Conference is taking place in Castlegar June 28-30.

PHOTOS: Canadian National Peony Show this weekend in Castlegar

A glimpse of what is happening at the Community Complex this weekend.

Students learn about making a difference

Girl’s leadership program bears fruit at Kinnaird Elementary

Three times the love: Identical triplets return home to Nelson

Katherine van der Veen gave birth to Ainsley, Olivia and Abigail last month

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Thieves steal tents from B.C. school, Grade 7 camping trip happens anyway

Nanaimo businesses, school staff and parents ensure trip goes on

Only legal pot shop between Vancouver and Kamloops now open

Private cannabis store on Skwah land in Chilliwack is first B.C. licensee to be Indigenous owned

Canadian communities responding to climate change

New research highlights state of local adaptation planning in Canada

Victoria woman in L.A. hospital after she was run over twice

Lynn Phillips has suffered from multiple broken bones and internal bleeding

‘Text neck’ causing bone spurs to grow from millennials’ skulls, researchers say

Technology use from early childhood causing abnormal bone growths in 41 per cent of young adults

B.C. judge defies lawyers and adds six months to man’s sex assault sentence

‘I find the joint submission is contrary to the public interest and I’m rejecting it’

Tiny Yorkshire terrier survives days on remote B.C. island

ROAM rescue crews, family searched for dog, missing in Greater Victoria for days

Man presumed dead after boat capsizes in Columbia River

Search and rescue efforts recovered a life jacket

Most Read