The practice of democracy is going out the window when it comes to animal welfare.
Take, for instance, the Vancouver park board’s handling of the Vancouver Aquarium. After years of debate, experts, testimony, and a clear mandate from the public, a motion was passed to draft a bylaw that would prevent the aquarium from continuing to breed whales and dolphins. Yet, as a small point in the recent election, the NPA-elected members are vowing to overturn the ban. Why? Well, because—y’know.
It comes down to this: when you infuse power, politics, and animal welfare, there is one clear winner (the one holding the bank notes) and there is one clear loser (the animals).
A simple referendum would decide, ultimately, what the people of Vancouver want. Public opinion has long been on the side of the marine mammals in the case of the Vancouver Aquarium. But those in control—more specifically, those who want to stay in control—refuse to allow that. There is only one reason to avoid a referendum: fear of the outcome.
But why? Why would elected officials be afraid of such a clear mandate coming from the people of Vancouver?
I can only offer supposition. But you can bet that money, politics, and power play a role in every theory.
That a motion in favour of a breeding ban can be put on the books after such a lengthy and expensive process only to be overturned immediately by politicians with their own agenda is an insult to the democratic process. It is an insult to those who worked tirelessly to have not this decision, but this process, honoured.
You can even look to our recent dealings with the RCMP and the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC). After decades of reasoning and discussions with them, the RCMP chose to look to their own members and the public on the issue of their muskrat fur hats. As it turned out, what we said was true: people (including the Mounties themselves) didn’t like the fur and wanted another option. With little fanfare, the RCMP investigated, tested, and began the acquisition process for toques in regular cold-weather conditions.
Enter the CPC. Upon hearing from their supporters (i.e. the fur lobby), they immediately announced they would overturn the RCMP’s decision. Years of work by advocates, thousands of man-hours by the RCMP’s uniform division, gone, for the sake of getting a few votes.
Perhaps, after decades of debate and political maneuvering, it’s time for a change in tactics.
It was with this theory that we launched our #MakeFurHistory campaign. We have, since the 1950s, tried to work with governments on the issues of fur trapping and farming. We have been patient and polite. We have gathered signatures, letters, and scientific reports. Yet the only organizations the government(s) have chosen to work with are those who are turning a profit from the skin of fur-bearing animals.
The tax dollars from the fur industry—in 2012 valued at approximately $800 million—are attractive to politicians. The votes—approximately 75,000 trappers (their numbers)—and their families are even more attractive. They also use the “us versus them” concept. If you’re against the fur industry, you must be against the rural way of life.
We’ve decided to try a different tactic. The only reason the fur industry continues today is that people are buying fur. Though most of the fur products “harvested” in Canada are sent overseas, some remain in country, such as the trapped and skinned coyotes used in Canada Goose jackets.
Rather than targeting the elected government, which clearly isn’t interested in hearing from the people who put them in office, we’re targeting the consumer. The fur industry only exists because people buy the product. But what if they knew? What if they saw and felt the horror that exists in this inherently inhumane industry?
MakeFurHistory.com takes viewers on a roller-coaster ride of emotion and truth. They see inside the fur industry—inside the filthy, dreary fur farms that are littered across the country. Viewers are then given the opportunity to take a pledge to be fur-free, to refuse to be a part of the cruelty. They’re directed to a site where they can send letters to companies who sell fur. They’re given an opportunity to get #MakeFurHistory merchandise, which includes stickers, shirts, and brochures. They’re given the ability to make a difference.
Democracy is not working for non-human animals. Despite the polls, the science, and the overwhelming public support for new laws (and laws are popping up to protect wildlife around the world), the government is failing to do its job. The system has failed us, and has failed the animals. Now it’s time to work outside of that system.
We will continue to shine a light on the darkest corner of the darkest cage. We will continue to speak for the animals whose screams are being ignored. We will #MakeFurHistory.