MPs sink proposed shark fin law

Alice Wong samples some shark fin soup at the Jade Restaurant. -
Alice Wong samples some shark fin soup at the Jade Restaurant.
— image credit:

Richmond MP Alice Wong voted alongside fellow Conservatives last week to narrowly defeat a proposed law that would have banned shark fin imports in Canada.

Federal politicians voted 143 to 138 to scrap NDP MP Fin Donnelly's Bill C-380. Donnelly managed to win over some Conservative government MPs, but not enough to have the bill pass second reading and move to a House of Commons committee for further study.

I am disappointed more Conservative MPs did not support this important legislation. I hope the government will take immediate action to restrict the importation of shark fins to Canada,” said Donnelly in a statement following the March 27 vote.

The decision comes just weeks after Richmond city council decided that regulating shark fins should be left to the federal government, not cities.

Activists had been urging council to approve a local ban, similar to that of other cities in B.C. and Canada, while the B.C. Asian Restaurant and Cafe Owners Association lobbied Richmond to steer clear of a bylaw.

Wong, Richmond's MP since 2008, showed her distaste for further legislation last fall by sitting down to a bowl of shark fin soup for Chinese media at a Richmond restaurant.

Donnelly said 100 million sharks are killed each year to support the shark fin trade.

"This is having a devastating impact on shark populations, which is harmful to ocean ecosystems," said the New Westminster-Coquitlam NDP MP.

Donnelly noted "tens of thousands" of Canadians have signed petitions supporting his bill, adding a 2011 Mustel Group poll of 500 British Columbians found 83 per cent opposed shark fin imports

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