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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Mr. Demers: You made a comment to me from Marineland's baseless
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.)