Mark Leiren-Young: Orca policies and the Canadian election

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      In case the southern resident orcas aren’t following the Canadian election, we decided to check all the party platforms to see where they stand on B.C.'s iconic endangered whales. The answer—they don’t. No party platform mentions the southern residents.

      The People’s Party of Canada doesn’t have a stance on whales, but considering their positions on environmental issues it’s possible their leader, Maxime Bernier, would be game to literally stand on an orca and ride her into Marineland.

      The Bloc Québécois is fine with orcas as long as they stay out of Quebec. If they’d like to immigrate to La Belle Province they can’t show their dorsal fins or saddle-patches in public.

      The ReformaTories offer a “real plan to protect our environment” based on “green tech, not taxes” and other fun, meaningless slogans that alliterate. They do mention whales—although from a southern resident perspective their focus is on the wrong whales, a.k.a. the Right Whales.

      The Conservatives are proposing better tech to monitor shipping lanes—although that tech isn’t about avoiding whales, but protecting endangered delivery times. “Real-time data could make sure that ships avoid interactions with whales and marine animals and ensures marine traffic is only re-routed when there are real threats posed to marine life.” 

      I’m assuming by “real threats” they’re referring to Andrew Scheer’s alleged climate policies.

      The NDP’s “New Deal for People” doesn’t mention whales at all and likely won’t until the southern residents unionize or Right Whales are renamed Left Whales. They do, however, mention salmon. Once. Possibly because they’re pink? The Jagmeet juggernaut proposes implementing the 2018 Cohen commission report to protect wild salmon—so the orcas should find that promise tasty.

      The Liberals wish our friends at the Canadian Orca Rescue Society would stop carrying their adorable orca balloons at every West Coast protest and reminding voters about pipelines and bitumen. Justin Trudeau supporters also claim the prime minister was fond of dressing up as a Blackfish. Oops… that’s not in the official platform.

      Officially… Team Trudeau boldly declares #whalelivesmatter.

      “From coast to coast to coast, the health of Canada’s oceans matters—to the people whose livelihoods depend on them and to the marine species, including whales and commercial fishing stocks, that cannot exist without them.”

      Someone in the PMO also finally read the Cohen report—or listened to the unsinkable Alexandra Morton—and are looking to “transition from open net pen salmon farming in coastal waters to closed containment systems by 2025”.

      The Green Party platform makes no mention of the plight of the southern residents, but does feature two lovely pictures of orcas—including one that looks like it may be the photo from the cover of my book—so bonus points for that.

      Their only official whale policy is about ghost gear and nasty nets. “Trawling gear has destroyed fish habitat, and trap and long lines create extreme entanglement hazards for whales, sea turtles, seabirds and other species.”

      They also think there’s something fishy about open pen fish farms and are on-board with Team Cohen/Morton.

      All parties have policies that would have an impact on orcas—ranging from hastening the Apocalypse to replacing the Queen with Greta Thunberg.

      So do your homework, quiz your candidates and, before you mark your X for orcas, remember Stephen Harper’s bold policy on science: “Fire all the scientists.”