August 1, 2014 10:47 am

Park board commissioner compares whales in captivity to human slavery

Emotions are running high in the debate around whales and dolphins in the care of Vancouver Aquarium.

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Park board commissioner Constance Barnes, who has been vocal about ending captivity for cetaceans, made some controversial comments during the board meeting last night, where commissioners unanimously voted to keep the cetacean program, but ban most breeding. 

Barnes’ comments compare the cetacean program with human slavery.

I look at this as people that are advocating for an animal that doesn’t have a voice, said Barnes.

I know myself, and I am maybe walking a fine line here, but less than a hundred years ago, my people were being bred, and less than a hundred years ago, my people were being sold.

There is no way in the world that there weren’t people that were fighting for my people that were told this is the end of your career, you’re going to go down, or whatever it may be, because it is emotional.

But I am not in a position not to continue the fight. I’m not in a position not to stand up for the whales that don’t have the voice. I’m not in a position to be threatened.

And if it does take me down, it does because it’s the right thing to do.

The board had to meet three times since July 26 to hear out all the speakers on the issue.

More than 130 people registered to speak.

The board says it also received emails, public comments and inquiries from thousands of concerned residents on all sides of the debate.

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