"Are you in favour of phasing out the containment of whales and dolphins in Stanley Park?" is the question that will be on the 2008 Vancouver civic election ballot after a motion approving the plebiscite was passed by COPE Park Commissioners on October 31.
"It is up to the people of Vancouver to decide whether or not the Vancouver Aquarium keeps whales and dolphins in captivity not Park Board Commissioners. Last night, democracy was served by giving the voters of Vancouver the opportunity to decide this issue in 2008," stated COPE Park Commissioner Loretta Woodcock.
Woodcock responded to NPA Commissioner Suzanne Anton’s criticism that COPE was fulfilling a 2002 election promise. "While ending the captivity of whales and dolphins has been a longstanding COPE policy, it was not part of our 2002 platform. We had no political obligation to put forward this motion, just a democratic obligation," said Woodcock. She continued, "To say that we were keeping an old 2002 campaign promise before the term ends is simply NPA misinformation and election year grandstanding."
The Aquarium currently has a lease approved by the former NPA Park Board, which allows them to keep whales and dolphins in Stanley Park until 2015. COPE Commissioners put forward the motion because the Aquarium is currently planning to expand its whale and dolphin facilities by 2010. The plebiscite still needs to be passed by Vancouver City Council, before it can be placed on the 2008 ballot.
"I am deeply concerned that an NPA City Council or Park Board would rescind the plebiscite. This issue needs to be resolved definitively in a democratic fashion, something that the NPA is always reluctant to do," concluded Woodcock.