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POFO - Standing Committee

Fisheries and Oceans


Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on 
Fisheries and Oceans

Issue No. 14 - Evidence - April 11, 2017

OTTAWA, Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, to which was referred Bill S-203, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts (ending the captivity of whales and dolphins), met this day at 5:14 p.m. to give consideration to the bill.

Senator Fabian Manning (Chair) in the chair.


The Chair: Good evening. My name is Fabian Manning. I am a senator from Newfoundland and Labrador, and I chair the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

I would like to welcome everyone here this evening. Before I give the floor to our witnesses, I would like our senators to introduce themselves first, beginning with my immediate right.

Senator Munson: Senator Munson from Ontario.

Senator Plett: Senator Don Plett from Manitoba.

Senator Unger: Senator Betty Unger from Alberta.

Senator Christmas: Dan Christmas from Nova Scotia.

Senator McInnis: Tom McInnis from Nova Scotia.

The Chair: We may have some other senators joining us afterward. Usually our committee sits when the Senate is not sitting, but due to the fact that you have travelled here this evening we sought and received permission to sit.

If the bells go in the Senate, I want to forewarn everyone that there will be a vote and we would have to leave to vote and come back. We would have to take a break if that happens. I just wanted to have everyone ready for that.

The committee is continuing its study into the examination of Bill S-203, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts (ending the captivity of whales and dolphins).

We are pleased this evening to welcome Barbara Cartwright, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Federation of Humane Societies; Philip Demers, Former Marine Mammal Trainer; and Carly Ferguson, President, Ontario Captive Animal Watch Inc.

On behalf of the members of the committee, I thank you for being here today. I understand you have opening remarks. Once we receive those, we will open the floor for our senators.

The floor is yours.

Carly Ferguson, President, Ontario Captive Animal Watch Inc.: Good evening, senators. I would like to thank former Senator Wilfred Moore for introducing this bill, as well as Senator Sinclair for adopting it. This bill has the full support of Ontario Captive Animal Watch moving forward and I thank you for inviting me here today.

My presentation will be different from that of my colleagues. I feel that it is important for you to see some of the animals that have been discussed at length in this committee. After all, this is why we are ultimately here.

Because I am speaking on behalf of OCAW it is the province of Ontario that we tend to concentrate our initiatives on, and I will be focusing mainly on Marineland Canada for this reason.

As science has demonstrated, cetaceans are extremely intelligent, highly emotional and socially complex species. For these reasons, there have been other jurisdictions that have taken steps in prohibiting the further capture and confinement of them. Some of those countries are as follows: Hungary, Switzerland, Croatia, Chile, Costa Rica and Greece, to name a few.

You have been provided with a booklet with different tabs in it, and I will refer you to tab A.

On May 20, 2013, Indian Ministry of the Environment and Forests banned the keeping of captive dolphins for public entertainment purposes. A statement from the Central Zoo Authority declared that in general,

Confinement in captivity can seriously compromise the welfare and survival of all types of cetaceans by altering their behaviour and causing extreme distress.

Furthermore, it said that cetaceans "should be seen as 'non-human' persons and as such should have their own specific rights.''

A few countries have standards so strict that it is nearly impossible to keep cetaceans in captivity including Brazil, Luxembourg, Norway and the United Kingdom.

Closer to North America, in 1982, South Carolina was the first U.S. state to ban marine mammals in captivity. California has banned orca theatrical shows and breeding of orcas. Representative Adam Schiff has introduced legislation which would amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 to prohibit the taking, importation and exportation of orcas for public display. The State of New York banned the possession and harbouring of orcas.

The Province of Ontario has prohibited the further breeding and acquisition of killer whales within the province, and recently the Vancouver Park Board has voted to ban cetacean captivity at the Vancouver Aquarium.

I will refer you now to tab B in your booklet.

When CAZA spoke to you, they could not tell you about Kiska. Kiska is currently Canada's only captive orca. Being roughly 40 years old, she's middle aged. Studies conducted in wild populations have taught us that female orcas can live to be 100 years old in the wild. Sadly, their life span in captivity is greatly reduced.

In 1979, Kiska was captured, taken from her family off the coast of Iceland and brought to a chlorinated concrete tank to reside at Marineland Canada. Over the years, all of Kiska's tank mates have either died or been transferred to other captive marine parks, leaving Kiska the only captive killer whale in the entire world that resides in complete social isolation from any other marine mammal. Kiska has been in this state surpassing six years now. With vocalization being such a crucial component in a cetacean's life, when Kiska would vocalize she would never get a response in return. It would be her own voice bouncing back at her from a concrete wall.

Twenty orcas have died prematurely at Marineland since 1973 which is one of the worst records in the world for captive orca deaths. Kiska has birthed five calves at Marineland and all five are now dead, none of which have surpassed age of six years old.

I have spent countless hours over the course of several years documenting her. She spends her days circling a very distinct, obsessive path, never clockwise, over and over and over again.

As we know from studies conducted on wild populations, orca swim up to 100 miles per day with their families. However, it takes Kiska an estimated 15 to 20 seconds to swim a straight line from one end of her tank to the other.

I will refer you to tab C.

Experts have said that the condition of her teeth is a direct result of Kiska gnawing on fixtures in her tank. She does this due to stress and boredom. Kiska gets very little enrichment as is evidenced in Dr. Ingrid Visser's report, which I believe all of you have received.

I will refer you now to tab D, please.

Orcas are naturally deep divers, diving anywhere from 100 to 400 metres. This enables them to escape the sun's harmful rays. In a chlorinated concrete tank approximately 9 metres deep, this is not possible.

CAZA has stated they have the world's best standards of care, to which they hold their accredited members. However, Kiska and the 50-plus belugas at Marineland are not provided with the basic need of shelter from the sun.

Most aquariums that hold cetaceans around the world keep roughly 2 to 8 beluga whales. At Marineland they currently hold upwards of 50 and there is nothing preventing them from obtaining more from the wild or from further breeding of them. If this bill were to become law today, Marineland would still have a significant population of belugas at their facility for many years to come for captive display.

I will refer you to tab E, please.

CAZA also states:

When using animals in public programming, CAZA members must strive at all times to treat these animals with dignity and respect. . . . Practices that should be avoided when using animals in public programming include:

1. Any practices that provide audiences with a misleading impression of the natural behaviours of wild animals, or directly or indirectly make claims about wild animal behaviour that are not substantiated by scientific evidence.

From my experiences at Marineland as a member of the public, I can tell you that educational material about any species they hold there is not provided to you. There are two signs in the underground viewing area of Friendship Cove that most people don't notice because it's so poorly lit. They do not have staff members placed around the exhibits voluntarily offering educational material about the animals. Furthermore, I fail to see how riding a beluga whale in a chlorinated concrete tank has any educational value whatsoever. It certainly does not give people a sudden passion to want to help the species in the wild.

One of the photos I have provided you with is the beluga holding tank in King Waldorf Stadium at Marineland. Two of Marineland's beluga whales are held in this tank. Again, I would seriously question CAZA's apparent best in the world standards if they are accrediting a facility that holds two whales in a tank of this size.

I will refer you now to tab F.

Many of the belugas and dolphins suffer from rake marks caused by aggression. This also happens in wild populations, but unfortunately in a chlorinated, concrete tank there is nowhere for them to retreat from other possibly more dominant whales.

I will refer to tab G now.

This is Echo. She is one of five bottlenose dolphins that reside at Marineland. I have been there many times and each time I see her she is covered in rake marks caused by aggressive tank mates.

I will refer now to tab H.

Five dolphins are held in this tank. With dolphins being such intelligent, wide-ranging and deep-diving animals, this is, simply put, wrong.

In conclusion, cetaceans lead shorter and more stressful lives in captivity than their wild counterparts. The scientific data is abundant clear on this issue. Captive cetaceans are not essential for education, as these facilities provide little to no education. I do not believe that the limited research that these facilities conduct justifies the keeping of cetaceans in captivity, knowing that science has proven cetaceans to be highly sentient, highly social, highly intellectual and highly emotional animals, and that they do not fare well in captivity.

Philip Demers, Former Marine Mammal Trainer, as an individual: Good evening. I would like to thank this committee for inviting me to speak to Bill S-203 and offer insight into my 12 years of expense as a marine mammal trainer at Marineland Canada and industry consultant to facilities such as SeaWorld, Dolfinarium Harderwijk, and Aquarium Oceanografic in Valencia, Spain. My extensive experience includes working with captive species such as orcas, beluga whales, bottlenose dolphins, seals, sea lions and walruses.

In 2000, as a graduate of an audio engineering and digital multimedia program, I became employed by Marineland as a trainer's assistant. As there were no whale trainer schools my education was attractive to Marineland as I brought skills that would complement their stadium show program technically, while all animal-related training I would receive in house. Over the next 12 years, Marineland would reward me with multiple pay increases and promotions.

In 2012, I quit Marineland amidst a most critical mechanical breakdown in their water disinfection unit, one that would not be addressed for months, despite the many pleas from veterinarians, supervisors and water maintenance employees. The disastrous effects of the hyperchlorinated water left no animals immune to the consequences. Seals, sea lions, walruses and dolphins became dangerously lethargic, their skin often bleeding and peeling off. Drugs including valium, a psychotic rampantly used in aquariums, were force-fed to animals to try to mitigate their suffering. The eyes of many animals were permanently damaged, our youngest suffering ulcers.

Complacency from management in addressing these issues caused one water maintenance supervisor to quit, as he could no longer bear witness to the suffering. I too, after much desperation, elected to abandon my profession of 12 years as I could no longer tolerate the unnecessary and prolonged suffering of animals.

As a whale trainer, my responsibilities were to get to know animals personally, build a trusting relationship, and to communicate health and behaviour concerns with veterinarians. I proved very effective in my responsibilities. As quoted by Marineland veterinarian Erica Gehring shortly after submitting my two weeks' notice:

We really, really need Phil to stay. . . . There are other places that will snatch him up if he leaves. Marineland needs him, the animals need him. . . .We all need him. He is, in my opinion, one of the best trainers. (Actually, he is the best) with respect to skills and understanding. He knows the animals and understands how to get them to do things that make it easier for all of us.

In my experience, I believe Bill S-203 to be necessary and long overdue as Canada lags embarrassingly far behind other countries with respect to animal importation laws, as expressed by previous expert witnesses. This void of laws has resulted in an international animal trade program capitalized by Marineland which sees calves of wild-caught beluga whales traded and sold to American aquariums, where the import of wild animals is strictly outlawed.

One such trade resulted in a lawsuit filed by SeaWorld, claiming Marineland was failing to provide adequate care for an orca named Ikaika, loaned by SeaWorld for the purpose of breeding. Marineland failed to defend against these allegations, resulting in the loss of custody of Ikaika.

Had SeaWorld not intervened to rescue Ikaika, I believe the young male would have suffered the same fate of nearly 30 other orcas displayed at Marineland over their 55 years of operation. He too would have died long before the average lifespan of his wild counterparts. He also would have wound up with thousands of animals buried in Marineland's on-site mass graves, a sight I'm too familiar with as I personally buried and unearthed countless animals, the image of which is still haunting me. When whale trainers witness animal suffering and deaths, we suffer as well.

Between the years 1999 and 2012, after a denied application to capture whales from Canada's own Churchill, Manitoba, Marineland's importation of wild-captured belugas from Russian waters became rampant. As quickly as they died, animals were replaced. Marineland's beluga collection grew from a mere three whales to now nearly 60, with multiple calves being born and dying each season. With no credible oversight, these deaths go undocumented and unreported.

Dolphins too were imported en masse from Russia, with only five females remaining today. In one case, a dolphin named Lida was captured from the wild while pregnant. Her calf, once born, lived a mere few days in Marineland's concrete tank. In fact, not a single dolphin or orca born at Marineland is alive today, not a single one. That's 55 years of failed breeding. How long is too long?

Marineland's indiscriminate breeding of belugas and an inability to maintain natural social groups have also caused unnecessary deaths and suffering among newborns. Beluga mothers are forced to witness their calves get displaced and often killed by male belugas, as concrete walls impeded their ability to escape. This too happens with the dolphins that have no reprieve from aggressors. Echo the dolphin is consequently a target of daily attacks. As a result, Marineland habitually sedates animals in the hopes of mitigating these attacks. Efforts to sedate animals often result in the wrong animals eating drug-filled fish, which are thrown at them in the pools.

Kiska, Marineland's lone remaining orca whale, was once the recipient of a drug-filled fish intended for Ikaika, a much larger orca. As drug doses are calculated using animal size estimations, there were grave concerns among the veterinarians that she would die that day, to which I can attest that she nearly did.

In 2012, the OSPCA and CAZA, of which Marineland is a dues-paying member, inspected Marineland. They reiterated my concerns and ordered several corrective steps, including the updating of their water disinfection units and ordering an ophthalmologist to threat the animals' damaged eyes. The Ontario government has also drafted standards of care for marine mammals, as none existed then for the OSPCA to enforce. A province-wide captive orca ban has also been implemented, but that doesn't address the issue of dolphins and other whales, which deserve our same respect.

Since speaking of my experiences at Marineland I have become the target of relentless attacks. In an effort to stifle public debate Marineland launched nearly a dozen SLAPP lawsuits, of which I am the recipient of a most peculiar one, as they allege I plotted to steal Smooshi the walrus.

Despite its obvious frivolity the lawsuit, as intended, has caused me and others grave financial hardships. Additionally, I have been threatened with violence, have had my home stalked, and am the target of a smear campaign which has already seeped into the walls of this Senate, as Senator Plett has already proved himself all too willing to do Marineland's bidding for them, quoting verbatim their baseless lawsuit. I also suspect Marineland has well prepared him for follow-up questions too, which I am now prepared to field. Thank you.

The Chair: We will have to wait on that for a few moments.

Barbara Cartwright, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Federation of Humane Societies: Good evening. I want to start by thanking this committee for their attention to this important matter and for their hard work on behalf of Canadians. I am appearing before you today to bring support from humane societies and SPCAs across the country for Bill S-203.

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies is the national organization that represents humane societies and SPCAs all across Canada, the very humane societies and SPCAs that Canadians depend upon not only to care for the abused and abandoned animals in our communities, but also to enforce the law, to advocate for greater care and protection of animals, and to provide resources, research and humane education.

The Federation represents 55 diverse members from all 10 provinces and two of the territories. From the largest urban centres to the smallest coastal communities, we are proud to represent the largest SPCA on the continent, the British Columbia SPCA, and we are also proud to represent some of the smallest, like Happy Valley Goose Bay SPCA and the Charlotte County in New Brunswick.

Canada's humane societies and SPCAs employ close to 2,000 staff members, supported by an estimated 26,000 volunteers, and generate an economic benefit of more than $180 million annually to Canadian communities across the country. More than 40 per cent of humane societies and SPCAs are empowered to enforce provincial and federal animal protection and cruelty legislation.

Since we were founded in 1957, the CFHS has worked toward positive, progressive change to end animal cruelty, improve animal protection and promote the humane treatment of all animals. We do that using the long-established five freedoms of animal welfare framework as a guiding principle. It states that all animals under the care of humans must have freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from pain, injury and disease; freedom from distress; freedom from discomfort; and the freedom to express behaviours that promote well-being.

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies supports all steps, including the passage of legislation which affords greater protection for marine mammals and ensures that the five freedoms are met. Our long-standing position statement on captive cetaceans is that they should not be kept in captivity. It does not meet animal welfare, conservation or education needs.

The CFHS recognizes the abundant scientific evidence that the confinement of cetaceans causes physical and mental pain and suffering, and therefore fails to meet their health, behavioural and environmental needs. There are a number of pressing problems for cetaceans in captivity, of which this committee has heard about significantly. In captivity, natural behaviours such as foraging, breaching and fluke waving are all limited and sometimes impossible. Cetaceans are frequently isolated and spend much of their time understimulated, causing them psychological and physical suffering. Cetaceans are a highly intelligent, social, deep-diving species whose needs simply cannot be met in a tank. Nor can our needs to study and learn more about cetaceans. Studying the behaviours of a whale in captivity as an effort to better understand their natural behaviours in any way is not directly relatable. In captivity they do not and cannot express natural behaviours that would lead to a better understanding for conservation of their species.

I think this quote from Jacques Cousteau sums it up nicely:

There is about as much educational benefit to be gained in studying dolphins in captivity as there would be studying mankind by only observing prisoners held in solitary confinement.

Bill S-203 is a sensible piece of legislation that simply codifies what has already been happening in Canada for some time now. There is an ongoing atrophy of cetacean displays across the continent, including here in Ontario where the CFHS sat on the Technical Advisory Group to the Ontario provincial government that ultimately led to a ban on keeping orca whales in captivity.

I want to take a moment to address the concept of standards and guidelines. We are opposed to the setting of any such standards or guidelines and maintain that scientific research on the behaviour and biology of wild cetaceans provides evidence that no captive environment can satisfy the complex physical, behavioural and social requirements of cetaceans. Therefore, it is not possible to develop standards that would provide any meaningful measurement of animal welfare in a captive environment for any cetaceans.

A previous witness, Dr. Rosen, referred to the guidelines set by the Canadian Council on Animal Care for captive marine mammals and referenced the CCAC as having a sole mission to ensure animal welfare. He is mistaken in this assertion. CFHS is a founding member of the CCAC and is the only national animal welfare organization that sits on it. The CCAC describes itself on its own website as the following:

The Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) is the national peer-review organization responsible for setting, maintaining, and overseeing the implementation of high standards for animal ethics and care in science throughout Canada.

The CCAC goes on to state directly that it was created as "an independent, non-profit organization, acting in the interests of the Canadian people.''

You will note the absence of any reference to animal welfare. It should also be noted that there was dissention among council members, CFHS being one of them, about the reference to guidelines as the CCAC accepted an external contract to create the guidelines and did not have any research facilities with cetaceans, and therefore such an activity was beyond its scope and expertise.

While I am sure this is top of mind for all senators, it bares mentioning once again that this bill will only ultimately impact one commercial entertainment facility in all of Canada, Marineland. While this committee has heard opposition from the Vancouver Aquarium based on a captive research agenda, it is a moot point given the recent decision by the park board.

Furthermore, Canadians do not support the archaic practice of capture, confining and breeding of whales and dolphins for the purpose of our entertainment. They understand that the claims of educational merit are confusing an entertaining experience with an educational one. They understand that it is not a conservation or education value to them and that there are much better ways for them to seek out that learning.

CFHS supports the ongoing and important research on marine mammals in the wild which affords us a realistic view of the animals in their natural habitat without causing pain and suffering to individuals.

This bill is an important step forward in protecting the welfare of whales, dolphins and porpoises, not only in confinement but in the wild, and puts Canada in a leadership position by advancing marine mammal science without exacting a cost to individual animals.

We look forward to a positive, progressive future for the welfare of marine mammals in Canada. Thank you.

The Chair: We have been joined by a couple more senators, and I would ask them to introduce themselves to our guests before we start.

Senator Enverga: Tobias Enverga from Ontario.


Senator Forest: Éric Forest, from the gulf region, in Quebec.


The Chair: Thank you to our witnesses for your opening remarks. Once again I reiterate that if the bells go we will determine the timing of the bell and we will advise accordingly if we have to break for a period of time.

Last week, during our testimony, some of our questions and answers were long and we pushed the limit on our time. I don't like to cut off an ongoing conversation, but I want to make sure everyone on the list gets the opportunity to ask a question. If I need to call an order to move to the next person and go back on a round two, we will do that when the time comes.

Senator McInnis: Welcome, guests. You will appreciate that we have now been having hearings and witnesses on this bill for the last month. You will also appreciate that we go from spectrum to spectrum.

We have heard your testimony tonight. Last Thursday, we had Dr. Vergara, Dr. Trites and Dr. Rosen here. When I left that meeting I thought that they were convincing, as you are. That is the challenge this committee has as we come into the climax of how we're going to vote.

We respect every opinion that's given, believe me on that, but let me reflect for a moment on what was said last Thursday. I'm not sure who said this, but one of you said:

Studying the behaviours of a whale in captivity as an effort to better understand their natural behaviours in any way is not directly relatable. In captivity they do not and cannot express natural behaviours that would lead to a better understanding for conservation. . .

Now that was a position of one of you, but yet I specifically asked Dr. Vergara last Thursday morning, because she had talked about the work that was done with the belugas in the St. Lawrence, what other research from these cetaceans in captivity was helpful to the animals in the wild.

She gave me several examples, not only connected with noise but connected with a false killer whale being able to cover its ears and drown out noise, which was helpful; a masking of echolocation sounds, which is even more productive now because a new technology that covers a large broadband, the better hydrophones, shows shipping noise at closer ranks of about three kilometres, which is another positive thing; and the way external noise transfer into the habitat might affect them. She could have gone on, she told me, and listed several other benefits.

I guess my question to you tonight is: How can you make a comment that it is not beneficial to those animals in the wild when in fact you have a professional backed up by Dr. Rosen and Dr. Trites who agree? Now do you see the dichotomy we're in here?

Ms. Cartwright: Absolutely. I can answer that since I concede that you're quoting my piece. I can certainly invite the other people on the panel with me to respond.

I agree that there is always conflicting information. We certainly have equal amounts of information from scientists from all around the world, marine biologists who will say no, you cannot recreate what happens in the wild in a tank, the best place to do that research is in the wild, and the natural behaviours aren't natural because they are not in their natural environment.

It is conflicting, for sure, but I think we need to look toward how we can do this research in the wild to benefit the species without compromising individual welfare. I notice a light. Should I continue?

The Chair: The bells are ringing. We're just determining how long the bell is for.

Senator Plett: I think an hour, chair.

The Chair: Continue on.

Ms. Cartwright: Regardless, we should figure out how we can do the research in the wild without compromising individual welfare in captivity because we know their welfare is compromised in captivity. Let us look to the wild. Let us look to research tools in the wild and therefore not have to compromise.

The Chair: Just to advise senators, we're okay for another 45 minutes or so before we have to leave. Would anyone else like to respond, or are you okay?

Ms. Ferguson: I would also like to point out what these animals are exhibiting. I'm not a scientist. I'm not a biologist, I'm not, but I can tell you that these animals exhibit completely unnatural behaviours.

Kiska swims in a circle the same way, and she has been doing that for years and years and years. She will not swim clockwise. Again, I'm not a scientist, but how does determining the sound these animals are making in a concrete tank help any species in the wild?

I called Vancouver Aquarium a few months ago, I guess it was, for some information on the southern resident killer whale pod on our West Coast. I wanted to see what work they were doing with them. She was wonderful and sent me many documents of things they were doing with these animals in the wild. She did not send me one document of anything they have done in captivity.

I don't feel like what is being done in captivity is really that necessary to make these animals stay in these tanks. I mean, judging from the pictures I have shown you, I don't think that their suffering, and they are suffering, is worth what they claim they are doing in captivity.

Senator McInnis: I'm not going to provoke a major discussion on this because you have your opinion, obviously. I have to adjudicate on what has been said here.

The work that is being done on the belugas in the St. Lawrence is valuable. They are using information that they have gained from cetaceans in captivity to better that situation.

The belugas in the St. Lawrence are a major concern. That's why I say to you that it is worthy. A number of the examples I have here is worthy research that is being done, that is being helpful. That's the point. They don't say that they are suffering. That's the other point.

Ms. Ferguson: I do believe that they are also very industry based. Like my colleague Barbara was saying, there are different sides from different scientist views. I believe you will hear also from Dr. Ingrid Visser.

Mr. Demers: If I could add something, if those studies were done at Vancouver Aquarium they don't have beluga whales anymore because they have all died. I can assure you that none of the studies done at Marineland, because they are limited to none, will affect any wild populations.

In fact, in terms of conservation the only thing Marineland has ever done was to take animals from the wild, which is the worst thing you can do for conservation.

Senator McInnis: Thank you.

Senator Munson: Thank you for being here tonight. I'll be brief with my first question. Obviously, from your testimony, you don't think that Bill S-203 goes far enough. If you were in the position of creating an amendment to this bill, what would you recommend? You have said, or somebody just said, that it's a good start.

It may be from people's perspective a good start, but it may take a long time to change the course of what has been happening over the last many years of captivity.

Ms. Cartwright: Are you asking me, Senator Munson? I just noticed my light is on. I support the bill.

The Chair: I should advise that a senator may direct a question to any one of you individually, but feel free if anybody would like to add a comment when someone else finishes.

Ms. Cartwright: I believe that my statement was that Bill S-203 was a sensible piece of legislation. I wouldn't recommend any amendments to it. We need to ban the captivity of cetaceans.

Mr. Demers: I feel the same way. I feel like it addresses the concerns.

Ms. Ferguson: Absolutely. I think the bill provides for research to be done on any rescued animals. Let's face it: There are not going to be any rescued animals coming to Marineland. In Ontario we're a little bit land locked. I don't believe they have ever rescued or rehabilitated an animal.

We are talking about Vancouver Aquarium, and I do believe the bill provides for rescued cetaceans to be rehabilitated. If they can't be re-released to the wild, they can be kept there. However, Vancouver Aquarium is saying that they want to get out of the cetacean business in 2029.

Senator Munson: What are your views then? If they are rescued and they can be rehabilitated, should they be put on display in the sense of: you have $25; you have four children, come on in and see these rescued animals go round and round for the next 20 years?

Ms. Ferguson: I personally believe if they truly can't be rehabilitated and released, if they are going to be there, sure.

Mr. Demers: I'm of the opinion that the needs of the animals in captivity still need to be addressed. I feel that there is a long ways to go before that is considered any semblance of a dignified life for these animals.

Granted, if they're there on account of them requiring to be there and needing extra care, then providing them the best possible care in that capacity is perfectly acceptable.

Senator Munson: You can see there is a lot of emotion at this committee. There are certainly different points of view, I can tell you that.

I have just a clarification. "In captivity, natural behaviours such as foraging. . .and fluke waving are limited.'' What does that mean?

Ms. Cartwright: To forage for food.

Senator Munson: I understand that but I'm curious about fluke waving; that's all.

Ms. Cartwright: They do different things with their flukes. They do wave them in the air. They do different behaviours like breaching and tail flukes. Obviously it's limited as to what they can actually do inside a tank, given their size and the size of their space.

Mr. Demers: It's trained behaviour for the purpose of performing. A whale will invert itself, raise its tail and wave it as I wave goodbye to the crowd. It's an unnatural behaviour. It is just to stimulate the crowd and get them to applaud louder.

Senator Munson: Very briefly, then, because other senators have lots of questions, you gave examples of countries in the world where the marinelands and the Vancouver aquariums of the world don't exist anymore.

At the end of the day is it your wish that places like these just simply close their doors and if there are rescues of these animals they be put into a place where they can be kept comfortable but not put in a circus show, which some people have said is really what is happening?

Ms. Ferguson: Absolutely. I'm of the opinion that cetaceans of any other species besides elephants just cannot thrive in captivity. This is why my organization focuses on this so much. You have heard all the reasons as to why, so I'm not going over them.

The rest of the world is catching on to this. People don't want to see it anymore. This is why all these other countries have gone forward in doing this. This is a great opportunity for us to lead in North America.

Ms. Cartwright: I would also like to respond to that. A central tenet is that if there are cetaceans that are being rescued, rehabilitated and put back to the wild, fantastic. That's the best outcome for them. If they can't and they need to be held in captivity then we would advocate for sanctuary and a central tenet of sanctuary is not being used for entertainment or profit.

Mr. Demers: I would share the same opinion in those matters. I would like to remind this committee that whale captivity as a whole is not that old. In fact it only began in the 1970s here in Canada. The more we learn about these animals, the more likely we are to achieve these sanctuary-like environments so we can properly provide for them.

Senator Plett: Mr. Demers, according to your statement I know you have been anxiously waiting for me to ask you questions.

Mr. Demers: I'm all warm inside.

Senator Plett: Good. I will start off, sir, with just making a brief comment. Then I will go to a few questions for you and the other fine witnesses that we have here today.

Mr. Demers, after you put forward some very serious allegations not to the relevant authorities but to the Toronto Star, there were full investigations by the OSPCA, CAZA, the Niagara Falls Humane Society, the Ministry of Labour, and an independent report and review commissioned by the Government of Ontario. None of those investigations, not one, led to any charges.

This, sir, has become a pattern. You admitted under oath to personally consuming controlled drugs meant for marine mammals at Marineland and keeping some of those drugs at your residence. Apparently your lawyer now has them in her possession. I have it on record here that the Ontario Superior Court has stated that you deliberately misled the court, and I have no doubt that you will do the same here.

You, sir, wished Marineland well in your letter of resignation after pitching to them the "walrus whisperer'' reality show that they didn't want to be part of.

I have a few questions. Anyone of you can answer these questions. You have made repeated complaints about Kiska to the OSPCA. I guess maybe, Ms. Ferguson, this is more directed to you. The OSPCA has investigated those complaints on each occasion. Is it correct that after each investigation not a single charge has been laid?

I also understand, and I think you have said that here already, you are not a veterinarian and have never treated a marine mammal or a cetacean. Is your group prohibited from entering Marineland via trespass notice?

Ms. Ferguson: I did bring my trespass notice with me if anyone would like to see it, in the interest of full disclosure. Yes, my organization, including our veterinarian on our board, has been served with a notice of trespass for Marineland.

Regarding Kiska, I do not believe that the OSPCA have the wherewithal or the knowledge to deal with cetaceans. Kiska, as you saw in the photos that I provided you, doesn't even have shelter. That is a basic standard of care under Ontario Regulation 60/90. When the belugas or Kiska don't have shelter, I believe that the OSPCA doesn't have the wherewithal to deal with it.

I'd like to point that as far as I'm aware, besides perhaps a weekend course in experience in marine mammals, and I could be wrong, Marineland's main on-site veterinarian is a doctor of veterinary medicine and doesn't have any other qualifications besides experience.

Senator Plett: Let me quote Dr. Lanny Cornell on February 16 of this year, an expert marine mammal veterinarian, when he reported on Kiska:

Kiska is in good health, feeding well, interacting well with staff, is responding well to enrichment and training, and appears to be active and alert. She appears to be in good condition overall for her age and general health. She remains under constant supervision, evaluation and appropriate veterinary care.

Ms. Ferguson: When was that statement made by Dr. Cornell?

Senator Plett: February 16, 2017, just two months ago.

Ms. Ferguson: Obviously, I have not been to Marineland since I was served with a notice of trespass. This is Marineland's photo here. We have a lone killer whale, who is —

Senator Plett: That's fine. I just wanted to point that out.

Ms. Ferguson: I'm telling you about her enrichments that she receives. She gets a belly rub every now and then, and she gets to play with a rubber tire on a rope.

Senator Plett: Dr. Cornell actually is a little more emphatic than saying she gets a belly rub.

Kiska isn't really the issue here. We cannot bring anymore killer whales in. Unfortunately, they can't bring a killer whale in to be there with Kiska. It's just simply something that we're saddled with.

Maybe we should focus our attention away from Kiska. The fact of the matter is the courts and the province have said that they can't bring a mate in and they can't let her out in the wild because Kiska will die. We're kind of handcuffed as to what we do with Kiska.

The comment was made about swimming hundreds miles to find food, life expectancy, and so on and so forth. Dr. Trites, to whom Senator McInnis already referred, said that one of the reasons an animal dives deep is that it is looking for food. The reason why it swims a long distance is because it's looking for food or trying to avoid being eaten by a predator such as a killer whale. If an animal is protected from predation and is being fed, it doesn't need to do what it is doing in the wild. One has to understand the pressures that result in the field data that we record.

Before you answer this, whoever wants to answer this, I just want to make reference to one other comment, chair. Then, if there is a second round, I'll go on that.

You have said here a number of times that there are no whales that are being born at Marineland; they all die. In 2016, seven belugas were born at Marineland, and all are alive and thriving today. That kind of goes against the testimony that we have heard.

Probably, if this committee went to Marineland, they would point them out to us, as they have pointed out to me the young whale that the documentary show talked about having died. When I went there they showed me the young whale swimming and indeed it was very healthy.

Mr. Demers: Again, that is misleading. They never suggested that the whale died. Senator Plett, you are great at quoting Marineland's baseless lawsuits verbatim.

Senator Plett: Answer the questions, please, sir. It is not up to you to —

Mr. Demers: You are the one that is muddying the waters.

The Chair: Questions have been posed. We ask that the questions be answered.

Mr. Demers: You made a comment to me from Marineland's baseless verbatim —

Senator Plett: I made a comment.

Mr. Demers: If you are a fan of Marineland's veterinarians as judges of character and professionalism, I will refer you to my quote from Erika Gehring, Marineland's veterinarian who specifically says that I am the best; if there were a whale training school, I would be the teacher. Again, they are utilizing you to attack me personally as a means to muddy the water just as —

Senator Plett: Chair, order, please. Nobody is utilizing me. We are independent senators.

The Chair: Order, order.

Senator Munson: Why not answer the question?

Senator Plett: Senator, we are independent senators.

Senator Munson: You have interrupted every witness this evening. Let him answer the question.

The Chair: Senator Munson. Questions are posed and we ask that the questions be answered. We ask you to try to speak to the questions and the answers. I understand this is an emotional issue on all sides, but we need to get to the point of questions and answers and see if we can steer away, if we can, from anything else.

Mr. Demers: Is the question whether or not this committee would go to Marineland and appreciate that they are wild and are thriving?

Senator Plett: My question is: Are there seven belugas alive and well and thriving at Marineland that were born in 2016?

Mr. Demers: I can't comment on that because I haven't seen them, but if that is in fact the case I would have a great deal of concern that they are overbreeding indiscriminately and they are continuing to do so, which means those animals are still susceptible to being killed by males. You may want to refer to the photograph that I have here.

Senator Plett: I have a last question.

The Chair: Go ahead, Mr. Demers.

Mr. Demers: I have a photograph of a dead baby beluga calf and the mother mourning it just below, taken at Marineland. I suppose Marineland didn't tell you about that whale. You may want to ask them about it. There are countless others that you won't know about because those deaths go unreported. However, Marineland will tell you things that —

Senator Plett: My last question is: Is it true that you took drugs that were intended for mammals at Marineland?

Mr. Demers: Again, Marineland likes to muddy the waters of debate.

Senator Plett: Yes or no.

Mr. Demers: I would invite you to follow closely our civil proceedings because —

Senator Plett: Just answer the question.

Mr. Demers: — as a matter of breaking news we just got an order to compel John Holer to be examined in the civil litigation. By the way, I have to thank you because it was a tweet that you tweeted and subsequently deleted that actually managed to get us this order.

Senator Plett: You are welcome.

Mr. Demers: I owe you a beer.

It might interest you that they have also been ordered to provide particulars to the baseless allegations they made more than four years ago. They have a deadline of August. I invite you to come and take a good look at those proceedings because Marineland is doing everything they can not to get to court, and I'm bringing them there.

Senator Plett: Good. Chair, I will try again.

Senator Christmas: Ms. Cartwright, I was interested in your statement on the last page when you said that Canadians understand the claims of educational merit are confusing an entertaining experience for an educational one.

Could you explain that? Perhaps elaborate the difference between an educational experience and an entertaining experience?

Ms. Cartwright: Yes, absolutely. Thank you for the question. AAs someone with a master's in environmental education and conservation, this is one of my areas of expertise.

Having been trained by the Association of American Zoos and Aquariums at one point in time, it is something that is discussed greatly. You can go and have an entertaining experience. You can enjoy it and it is very much a personal gratification. Where we want to see it moved to an educational experience, particularly in the realm of conservation, is what kind of action happens afterward on behalf of the species.

What we see time and again with entertainment displays is that there isn't action afterward on behalf of the species. There is an enjoyment of the entertainment. There is a sometimes false relationship created: I love killer whales; I have seen them; they are so cute. None of that leads to conservation.

When you are doing entrance and exit interviews with people going to zoos, aquariums or entertainment facilities, what you are looking for is: What did they know on the way in; what did they know on the way out; and then, ideally, what have they done in two months, six months or a year, in order to determine if there has been an education value leading to a conservation value.

I can elaborate on the several studies that have been done over the years. This is almost the Holy Grail for any zoo or aquarium to prove that by coming to their facilities you are gaining a conservation value and therefore helping the wild species, but it is not in the evidence that is what is happening.

Senator Unger: My question is for you, Ms. Cartwright. You make the statement that you are opposed to setting any such standards or guidelines and maintain that scientific research on behaviour and biology of wild cetaceans provides evidence that no captive environment can satisfy the complex physical, behavioural and social requirements of cetaceans. Therefore, it is not possible to develop standards that would provide any meaningful measurement.

How then would any such measurement of animal welfare in captivity be done? Well, now that it is not captive it would be outside of captivity. How will you ever attain this?

Ms. Cartwright: To set standards in captivity?

Senator Unger: Right now certain data are gained from these animals in captivity. If they are not there anymore, how will you be able to develop any standards on their behaviour?

I have a secondary question to a statement you made that they can live 100 years in the wild. What is the average lifespan in captivity?

Ms. Cartwright: I will answer the first question. The second question, I am not an expert in. I believe it was a statement made by another speaker about how long they lived in captivity.

The standards and guidelines that I am referring to are those on captive marine mammals. There aren't standards set for wild marine mammals because they are in the wild. There is certainly scientific rigour. Scientists do set ways in which they can interact with wild animals. Regardless of whether or not they are cetaceans, if they are doing ethical science and they are following good practices set by their own scientific areas we certainly would continue to support that. We always support ideally non-invasive altogether, and that means observation.

As far as a setting them for captive marine mammals, we simply do not believe we can provide for their care and welfare in captivity. Setting standards still doesn't give us any better welfare.

Senator Enverga: Thank you for being here this evening. You talked about there being no conservation value to captive cetaceans. There was a student watching these magnificent whales while in the park. After many years she finally decided to study them and became a Ph.D on cetaceans.

How could you say there is no conservation value when in fact a lot of children and a lot of people who watch these whales that survived from the wild after they were rescued, suddenly feel the urge to study whales? How can you say there is no educational value with these particular captive whales?

Ms. Cartwright: The question was the difference between entertainment and education. I answered that question.

The great news is there are many other ways to be inspired to take other action. I am not sure what this student you referred to went on to study, whether they were studying captive whales, whether they were studying whales at all, whether they were studying whales in the wild or whether they were working on conservation. I can't answer that because I am not sure what their path forward was.

Inspiration is great. As recent as 2003, long before we had the beauty of the Internet, there were studies on documentaries. We can think of Dr. Jane Goodall and National Geographic. We can think about all the images we see without an animal being captive and therefore their welfare suffering for our inspiration. We can now get that through watching documentaries. With beautiful high-definition cameras and the many ways to get those images now, we are fortunate enough not to need to keep them in captivity for that inspiration.

Senator Enverga: If you look at how they study animals right now, they want to go inside the natural environment. When you look at the fact that not all people are able to go to the sea to watch them, don't you think it is also good that they have a way to study and look at animals in an environment that is more natural?

Ms. Cartwright: Well, it's not natural. I agree with you. What is amazing is that we all have what we need right here. We don't need captive animals in order to study them. You can go back to National Geographic alone and the inspiration they have brought that takes people out in the environment to study animals in their natural habitat. That is the best place to learn about them and that is the best place for them.

Ms. Ferguson: If I could make one point, children flock to museums and have for so long to study dinosaurs. Children are fascinated by dinosaurs. I have a little boy who loves dinosaurs but has never seen one. One of the biggest movements in the world was to save the great whale, meaning the humpback, fin and blue whales. There has never been one of these animals in captivity.

I was inspired to dedicate my life to helping animals through watching Gorillas in the Mist. It was about Dian Fossey saving the mountain gorilla. I was very inspired by her. I have never seen a mountain gorilla because there has never been one in captivity, but if it were not for her research in the wild that entire species would be wiped off the planet.

As Ms. Cartwright said, there are many other ways and we don't have to have animals suffering to do it.

Senator Enverga: Yes, but when you look at the Internet and video games there are a lot of things that are not real. Wouldn't it be nice for someone to be able to see something real for the first time, something they can see and something they can touch? Don't you think it is totally different when you have a picture or a video? It could be high density but it is not real. That is how I see these things.

Ms. Ferguson: I don't believe it is our right.

Senator Enverga: We have to make our children experience in real life something they can touch, feel, see and hear.

Mr. Demers: I had those very same aspirations. When I went to work at Marineland I was not against the captivity of whales. It was because of the time that I spent with those animals that I got to learn the facts of the matter and how we couldn't provide for them adequately. That is how I got my real education. I think when people go and see these animals they are getting a false replication of those animals anyway.

When you stress that something is real, animals in captivity, whales especially, are not the real representation of those animals in the wild.

Ms. Cartwright: I don't disagree with you around the idea that it is wonderful to experience nature. The great thing is we have squirrels, raccoons, moose and bears. We only need to go up to Gatineau Park to have our children experience the natural world if we don't want them to watch it on television. It is all around us. We don't need to keep animals suffering in captivity in order to have that because as evidence shows they can get what you are looking for, and it is honourable, that inspiration to do more.

It comes from watching it on television. It comes from seeing it in pictures. It comes from our taking them out into the natural environment that exists around them which is full of life and without them being in captivity.

Senator Enverga: I think that is the main issue. Either you see it on the tube or you see it for real. The reality of the whole thing is you get more inspiration and education by watching them in real time.

Ms. Cartwright: Yes, so get out to the wild. I agree; go and see whales in the wild and get that education.

Senator Enverga: But not everyone can afford that.

Mr. Demers: This bill addresses the facilities that currently have these animals. They are able to keep them and operate for many years to come. It will be a phased-out program. I don't know that many people will lose the experience because the experience will still be around for some period of time.


Senator Forest: Sorry for being late. We split our time between various committees and the Senate.

Clearly an animal, even an individual in captivity, could never live in conditions that will facilitate its development, despite the fact the animal is given food. The saying goes that, when a man is hungry, it would be better to teach him to fish than to give him fish. By providing fish, you're making him dependent. By teaching him to fish, you're giving him independence and personal fulfillment.

However, if certain individuals are injured or no longer able to survive on their own in the wild, aren't there some conditions for keeping them in captivity? We must remember that this bill addresses only cetaceans and the maintenance in captivity of individuals that can no longer survive entirely on their own in the wild.

Mr. Demers: I think that, in the case of cetaceans, if an animal is sick, we're responsible for meeting its needs in nature. We can't do so in pools. In the future, I think environments will be set up in the sea, in the ocean, to give cetaceans a life that strongly resembles their life in the wild. I don't think this can be done in pools.

In my experience, animals don't lead full lives in captivity. They lose their purpose. We take away their purpose and give them fish instead, but that's not their preference. They're naturally animals that eat fish in the wild. We can't replicate this in pools.

Senator Forest: The bill clearly addresses the maintenance in captivity of cetaceans.

Now, Mr. Demers, you have fairly extensive experience with very important tourist facilities such as Marineland, where very diverse aquatic fauna is found. If we take away the right to keep cetaceans in captivity, do you see a future for this type of establishment?

Mr. Demers: I didn't fully understand your question. I need more practice to be able to speak in French.

Senator Forest: It's the same thing for me in English.

If we take away the right of a business such as Marineland, an important tourist attraction, to keep cetaceans in captivity, do you see a future for this type of establishment?

Mr. Demers: Not yet. I think we're moving toward an approach that will involve establishing environments adapted to the lives of animals. However, for the moment, I don't think this can be done in pools. There's still room for improvement.

Senator Forest: I don't think you understood my question, but it doesn't matter.


Senator Plett: I am not sure if it was Ms. Ferguson or Ms. Cartwright who talked about Kiska being 40 years of age. I said earlier that I didn't want to talk about Kiska anymore because it was maybe not relevant to the bill. However, this is about whales in general. I think you said Kiska was 40 years old and that was middle age?

Ms. Ferguson: Correct.

Senator Plett: Yet, I have here the stats of a study of 500 whales studied in the wild. Of those 500 whales studied, 97 per cent lived less than 50 years and only four lived past 60 and 5 per cent of the whales studied in the wild are between the ages of 40 to 50. According to this study, male whales are typically 38 years of age and females, 60 years of age.

Ms. Ferguson: Correct. Are you speaking about killer whales?

Senator Plett: Killer whales, yes.

Ms. Ferguson: Marineland says that female orca whales can live to be about 100 years old.

Senator Plett: I'm not talking about what Marineland is saying.

Ms. Ferguson: That is on their sign. There was a 103-year-old orca on the West Coast that just passed away.

Senator Plett: One of our senators just celebrated her mother's 102nd birthday a few weeks ago. It is normal for a person to live to be into their hundreds.

You said, and not Marineland, that Kiska was 40 years of age and that was middle age. I don't want to put words in your mouth.

Ms. Ferguson: Yes.

Senator Plett: This study says that that is old age for most of them. It doesn't say that there aren't whales that live to be older than that, but how do you square that?

Ms. Ferguson: I have not seen the study, sir, so I cannot really comment on what the study says, but I would like to address your question about you not wanting to address Kiska if I could spend a minute on that.

Senator Plett: Sure.

Ms. Ferguson: Kiska can't do much anymore. Everything has been taken from her. She holds all the characteristics that dolphins and belugas also carry. I believe that this animal can't do anything anymore. She has had her children taken from her, her freedom, the ability to speak to other whales, everything. If she can do anything, she could teach us. If you want to talk about education, that animal can teach.

Senator Plett: I don't think there is anyone arguing for more killer whales to be brought into captivity. I think everyone would agree that we have a lot of sympathy for Kiska, but the laws prevent her from getting a partner and prevent us from releasing her.

Ms. Ferguson: If I could address that, Marineland had four years to get Kiska a companion before Bill 80, now law, was introduced.

Senator Plett: Then we would now have two killer whales in captivity.

Ms. Ferguson: Correct, but they did have the opportunity to mitigate her situation. They failed to do that. There is nothing stopping Marineland from moving her to another park where she can have a companion, if they truly cared about that animal.

Senator Plett: In fact they cannot because they can't move her out of the country.

Ms. Ferguson: Yes, they can.

Senator Plett: No, they cannot. It is illegal to move her out of the country. That's a separate issue. They are not allowed to.

You also said nobody wants to see this anymore. Last year Marineland had a little over a million visitors. It seems to me there are at least some people who want to come and see this.

Ms. Ferguson: Phil could probably speak to that more.

Mr. Demers: I imagine your source is wrong.

Senator Plett: No, I am asking you.

Ms. Ferguson: I don't know. Marineland is telling you that, clearly. I don't think there are Marineland statistics online so they are obviously telling you that. Over the years I have seen the parking lot dwindle in attendance. That is all I can tell you.

The Chair: Thank you, senators and witnesses. I realize there are some serious disagreements on this issue, but we are tasked to deal with Bill S-203. We are trying to hear as many opinions from as many people as we can. That is why we invited you here. We are delighted that you took the time to join us.

We will adjourn.

(The committee adjourned.)

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