Animal advocacy groups intervene in Vancouver Aquarium lawsuit

A lawyer for two animal advocacy groups appeared in court Thursday to oppose the Vancouver Aquarium’s bid to quash a bylaw banning cetaceans.

Arden Beddoes, who is representing the groups Animal Justice Canada and Zoocheck, made brief submissions before B.C. Supreme Court Justice Andrew Mayer on the aquarium’s argument that the Vancouver park board’s bylaw amendment violated the aquarium’s freedom of expression.

The two groups were granted intervener status in the court case after the aquarium filed a petition seeking to overturn the bylaw, which was passed at a meeting of the board in May.

The aquarium, which claims the bylaw will have significant adverse impacts, is making a number of arguments including that the amendment breaches its Charter right to free expression.

According to documents filed in court, the aquarium is arguing that through its cetacean program, the aquarium expresses one viewpoint in a many-sided public and now political debate about the ethics of importing and keeping whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Beddoes says that that position amounts to an unreasonable argument that in order to merely participate in the debate, the aquarium needs to keep cetaceans in captivity.

Tim Dickson, a lawyer for the parks board and the City of Vancouver, made a similar argument earlier in front of the judge.

Outside court, Beddoes said that the parks board is focusing on the bylaw while his clients are also looking at the impact a ruling that the aquarium’s rights were violated would have on animal-protection issues across Canada.

“It would mean that all of their activities would be rendered moot,” he said.

Animal Justice Canada and Zoocheck are national animal-advocacy organizations claiming membership in the tens of thousands of Canadians.

The deaths of two beluga whales at the aquarium in November 2016 reignited a long-running debate about the ethics of keeping cetaceans in the aquarium in Vancouver’s Stanley Park.

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Source:: Vancouver Sun

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