Shark fin soup controversy stirred by MP

Oct 15, 2012 | News

“If it’s an issue of protecting the sharks then all shark products should be banned. We would have absolutely no problem with that. But, you can still find shark products in non-Asian grocery stores and cosmetics,” said Leung. PHOTO COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.

by Jeanette Liu

A member of parliament boils up a pot of trouble as she gulps down a bowl of contentious shark fin soup.

Alice Wong, a conservative MP, representing Richmond, British Columbia, ate the soup at a news conference held on Thursday at a local restaurant.

According to media reports, it isn’t clear whether Wong was supporting the sale of fins or if she was representing the Harper government.

Reportedly the MP said the ban is a decision that should be up to the federal government and not up to the municipalities to make.

But many Canadian municipalities, including Toronto, have already banned the sale of shark fin products successfully.

Toronto banned the sale of the traditional delicacy last October in a vote of 38-4, responding to conservation concerns that many species of shark are currently endangered.

Recalling last year’s ban, Ben Leung, the co-chair of Toronto’s Fair and Responsible Governance Alliance, a lobby group for continued access to shark fin cuisine, told Humber News he agrees with Wong.

He said the decision to ban should not have been up to Toronto City Council or any other municipality.

“The ban itself wasn’t an issue, it was the consequences and procedure that are the issue,” Leung said. “City council was doing something clearly outside of its authority and beyond its jurisdiction. Illegal products have never been banned at the municipal level.”

About 70 million sharks are de-finned and as a result killed every year, according to a CBC report.

“The fact of the matter is no matter how you cut it it’s unquestionably cruel, horribly inhumane and utterly unsustainable,” said Liz White from animal protection and rights group, Animal Alliance Canada.“Its not okay to take a fully conscious animal, cut off its fins and throw it back into the water knowing it will die in horrible pain.”

Calgary and other cities in Southern Ontario have also banned selling the soup and other shark fin products.