Ontario Finally Passes New Legislation To End Acquisition and Breeding of Killer Whales At Amusement Parks Like Marineland

A Post from the Office of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne

(A Brief Foreword by Niagara At Large publisher Doug Draper – The following media release from the Ontario government of Kathleen Wynne is good news, of course. No other provincial government before this one dared to place any meaningful restrictions on what amusement parks like Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario can or cannot do around keeping whales and other marine mammals in captivity.

My question is this. Why stop at killer whales (more softly known as orcas by true marine biologists who more fully work to study and respect this great specie’s place in the wild)? Why not apply the same ban on acquisition and breeding to other marine mammals, including beluga whales and dolphins?

Why not pass legislation to a point where amusement parks like Marineland, around their display of these great mammals in cement tanks, is as out of date and as unacceptable as fights to the death by gladiators in a Roman coliseum.

Surely by now, we can move beyond exploiting these great fellow travellers on our planet in this circus-like way!)

Ontario Increasing Oversight and Protection for Marine Mammals

This May 28th, 2015 the province passed the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, which will prohibit the acquisition and breeding of orcas (killer whales) in Ontario effective immediately.

To ensure the province continues to have the strongest animal protection legislation in Canada, the bill contains a number of other measures to improve the oversight and well-being of all marine mammals in Ontario. This includes:

  • Rules that allow the government to require animal welfare committees at any facility that houses marine mammals
  • Rules that allow the government to require facilities that house marine mammals to have qualified veterinarians with expertise in marine mammal medicine to oversee preventive and clinical care 
  • Penalties of up to $60,000 and/or two years in prison on first conviction for breaches of the Act

The province is also working on setting specific standards of care for marine mammals which will reflect advice from an expert report by Dr. David Rosen, a University of British Columbia marine biologist, and recommendations from a technical advisory group. When introduced, Ontario will be the first jurisdiction in Canada to set specific standards of care for marine mammals.

The amendments complete a three-point plan initiated in October 2012 to strengthen protection for all animals.


  • Ontario provides the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) with $5.5 million annually to strengthen the protection of animals.


Niagara, Ontario Makes It Known – Once Again – That Freedom Of Speech Means Almost Nothing Here

A Commentary by Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

 There’s an old line that speaks to the right all of us should cherish in Canada and the United States to freedom of expression, and it goes something like this – ‘I may not always defend your view on an issue, but I will always defend your right to express it.’

The billboard you were not allowed to see in Niagara, Ontario. Banned as it was by certain 'thoght police' in the region.

The billboard you were not allowed to see in Niagara, Ontario. Banned as it was by certain ‘thoght police’ in the region.

In that spirit, I find it more than a little disturbing that a billboard sign by a group of animal activists in Niagara, Ontario, supporting a vegan diet and opposing the eating of eggs, was pulled down in the Niagara city of St. Catharines this May 2015.

If you know anything about a vegan diet, it excludes everything or virtually everything to do with animal products, including milk, milk-related foods and eggs. It is a diet, I must confess, that is a bridge way too far for me. And as much as those who embrace a vegan diet may be appalled by this, I just had two hard-boiled eggs before I posted this. And just before I went to bed the night before, I had a glass of milk. 

Very sorry if the vegans out there can’t deal with that.

 Nevertheless, let’s get back to the right of people in our part of the world, where we like to pride ourselves in still being free to express our views in whatever is left of a democratic society.

Where is that right when a special interest group – in this case some egg farmers – can lobby a commercial sign firm to take their billboard sign down, simply because they are vegans who don’t like eating eggs? Do these egg farmers actually think that this billboard will persuade me and most others not to eat eggs? Do they feel that threatened that they have apparently successfully lobbied the billboard sign firm to rip the sign down? Continue reading

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath: Give Ontarians Their Say on Hydro One Sale – Sever Bill 91

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath

(A Brief Forward from Niagara At Large publisher Doug Draper – The move by Ontario’s Liberal government to at least partially privatize Hydro One – the hydro delivery piece of a once-proud Ontario Hydro plundered by the former Ontario Conservative government of Mike Harris – should be of concern to everyone who uses and pays for hydro services in the province. 

Somehow, Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne argues that this move to sell off some portion of Hydro One to private shareholders will bring much needed money to the province for other things like public transit, infrastructure renewal, etc. That seems very suspect given the history of privatization in other jurisdictions, including Margaret Thatcher’s Britain where the privatization of public services like water led to a significant rise in water costs, a crumbling of water delivery infrastructure and an explosion of boil water advisories (due to dangerous fecal bacteria, etc. in the water) all over the country. 

Finally, what we may all want to consider as the Wynne government moves quickly in the days ahead to approve this hydro privatization plan is that private corporations and their shareholders have a history of placing profits and dollar returns to them above everything else. We, the consumers of hydro services, are lucky if our concerns around hydro costs come a distant second.) 

From the Office of Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath 

Queen’s Park, May, 2015 – This May 22nd, 2015, Andrea Horwath, Leader of Ontario’s New Democrats called on the Liberal government to separate the portions of Bill 91 that relate to the proposed sell-off of Hydro One and to travel the committee across the province. Continue reading

A Great Lakes Pollution Crisis – If You Care About The Water We Need For Life, Get Engaged, Now!

The Great Lakes from space. The largest single basin for fresh water in the world. Do we still care enough to save them?

The Great Lakes from space. The largest single basin for fresh water in the world. Do we still care enough to save them?

News from the Alliance for the Great Lakes  •  Freshwater Future  •  Michigan League of Conservation Voters  Ohio Environmental Council  •  National Wildlife Federation

(A Brief footnote from Niagara At Large – Nutrient pollution from both sides of the U.S.?Canada borders of the Great Lakes could suffocate theses greatest of frehwaters to a point where there is no live living n them for fish or the rest of us. Note here that no Canadian group is involved in the important post below. Not Polluton Probe, the Council of Canadians or anwyone else. Apparently they have all given in to Harperland and an attitude in Canada that there is no more hope for anything around protecting the life-sustaining resources of our planet.)

Chicago, U.S.A. – May 2015 – Solving the nutrient crisis facing the Great Lakes requires an all hands on deck approach. The report released today by Ceres – Feeding Ourselves Thirsty: How the Food Sector is Managing Water Risks – is a clear call to action for increased private sector engagement to improve water quality not only at their facilities but also throughout their supply chains from farm to factory. Continue reading

Artists and Gardens Exhibition – June 5th to 27th – Celebrate GardenWalk Buffalo And National Garden Festival

News from GardenWalk Buffalo

(A Brief Foreword Note from Niagara At Large – GardenWalk Buffalo has grown in to one of the largest and most awesome urban tours of its kind in North America and it is free, held annually and every last full weekend of July. For further details, click on the GardenWalk Buffalo link near the end of this post.)

Buffalo, New York – In celebration of the uniting of Garden Walk Buffalo and the National Garden Festival, the new organization, Garden Walk Buffalo Niagara is pleased to present an exhibition of artwork done during its Open Gardens event last July.

Some artists' posters from GardenWalk Buffalo events in years gone by.

Some artists’ posters from GardenWalk Buffalo events in years gone by.

The exhibition runs June 5-27, at Studio Hart located at 65 Allen St, Buffalo. Hours are Tuesday-Friday 11:30am-3:30pm and Saturday from 12:00-4:00pm.

The Opening Celebration will be held Friday, June 5 from 6:00-9:00pm.
In conjunction, the group will show original art which has inspired Garden Walk Buffalo posters over the years. Many artworks, as well as prints of the posters, will be available for purchase. Continue reading

The Thrill Is Gone – B.B. King Dies At Age 89

Brief Note by NAL publisher Doug Draper

He has been to blues music what Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry have been to rock & roll – a leading ambassador for the genre.b-b-king-3

With the passing of B.B. King this May 15th, 2015, world has lost a true musical legend.

By all accounts, B.B. was also a very nice man – a quality that certainly shone through for any of us who had the thrill to see him in concert.

Goodbye dear sir, and if you’ll excuse me, I’m now going to find my old copy of ‘Live at Cook County Jail’ and give it a few spins today.

(Now NAL invites you to share your comments on this news in the space below.)


A Victoria Day Spring Songbird Migration Walk And Picnic – How Much Nicer Can A Spring Day Be

News from Carla Carlson and Niagara Nature Tours

Join Niagara Nature Tours third annual Victoria Day bird watching tour on May 18, in the north end of St. Catharines, led by Jean Hampson and her husband Bob Highcock. Hampson who recently helped conduct a birding study in this same area said, “Palm Warbler (Timothy McIntyre)

We had a great day with twelve species of warblers, including Northern Waterthrush, Palm and Canada Warblers. Also, Veery, Indigo bunting and Ruby-throated hummingbird. I was able to take photos of a Black-throated Green warbler and a Chestnut-sided Warbler.”

It will be easy walking along gravel paths and trails. They will be exploring two new locations this year, looking for colourful spring warblers and other songbird migrants, before the little birds fly north across the lake. Continue reading