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Last month, in a bizarre move, Canada’s Conservative government downgraded the humpback whale from “threatened” to “species of special concern” under the Species at Risk Act. It was a move with purely political motivations. Compared to humans, whales are pretty unsophisticated.  They don’t know how to cook or use computers, and they sound like they’re whining whenever they talk. Whales are so dumb that they need our protection.  Thankfully we give it to them…or at least we used to.

These particular whales happen to live in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of British Columbia. The shift in terminology means that, under the Species at Risk Act, the government no longer has any obligation to protect the whales’ critical habitat. Take a millisecond to think about why the government might have made this decision. Actually, that’s generous. Take a nanosecond.

 

Putting the hump in humpbackWhit Welles

Putting the hump in humpback
Whit Welles

 

The Conservatives have been pushing for a particular pipeline project to move forward in Northern B.C. No, not the Kinder Morgan expansion. Certainly not Energy East…it goes the wrong direction. And no, you dummy, not Keystone XL. This time we’re talking about Northern Gateway, the pipeline that will carry Alberta tar to Kitimat, B.C., at which point the tar will board very large boats and head for Asia. Kitimat remains a protected area so long as humpbacks are listed as “threatened”.

If the humpack’s designation is downgraded, that protection will disappear. That paves the way for Northern Gateway, and puts whales in contact with oil tankers. Unfortunately, these boats present a significant risk, as they can hit and kill humpbacks. If this is a purely political move to  help with tar sands expansion, this government should feel ashamed of itself.

Wait a minute. Hold your horses! You don’t believe this crap, do you? Whales? Who cares about those anyway? They aren’t worth any money unless people pay to watch them, and even then you’re lucky if you see more than a tail or a fin from time to time. Plus, there are plenty of them- probably hundreds or even thousands.  Big boats off the B.C. coast hit only 21 whales between 2001 and 2008. Dry your eyes. You know what’s really endangered? Pipelines.

There are only four pipeline projects in the works right now. ONLY FOUR! That is way less than the number of whales in the Pacific Ocean. So who really needs protection? Oil companies.

So thank you, Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Expedient Approval for Resource Projects, for putting those whales in their place. They have the whole damn ocean to roam, so there is no reason why we should protect them if they decide to hang out around a busy port. Seriously, are we a nanny state? If whales want to swim dangerously close to tankers that’s their own prerogative. We have no right or obligation to stop them. It’s called free will. Read about it in the dictionary next to Free Willy- just don’t fall in love with whales while you’re at it.