Complaint filed against Toronto’s shark fin ban

By Don Peat ,City Hall Bureau Chief ,
4. November 2011

TORONTO – A week after Toronto council voted to ban shark fin, the city has been bit with a human rights complaint.

The Toronto Sun has learned the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal received an application on Monday related to city council’s decision to ban shark fin in Toronto.

Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, one of the councillors who championed bringing in the ban, called the complaint to the tribunal “laughable and pathetic.”

De Baeremaeker said he wasn’t aware the city had received a complaint.

“I don’t want to assume it may be a Chinese-Canadian person,” he said.

He added he knows several Chinese-Canadians, including a member of his own office staff, who don’t see the shark fin ban as a human rights violation.

De Baeremaeker said many Chinese-Canadians don’t feel shark fin soup is part of their culture.

“We’re not banning soup. We’re not banning weddings,” he said.

The Scarborough Centre councillor predicted the tribunal will throw out the complaint.

“It is ridiculous, it has no merit,” he said.

Tribunal spokesman Carol Brosseau said Friday she could not reveal who made the application or the basis of the complaint due to confidentiality.

City of Toronto spokesman Rob Andrusevich said the city is aware the shark fin complaint.

“We’re reviewing the complaint and we will be responding,” Andrusevich said.

During last week’s city council meeting, councillors voted 38-4 to ban the possession, sale and consumption of shark fin and shark fin products in Toronto.

Some residents and businesses in the city’s Chinese-Canadian community have objected to the ban saying it unfairly targets them because shark fin soup is seen by some as a traditional dish to be served at Chinese weddings and other celebrations.

Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said Friday that council should re-think the shark fin ban.

“I think it was predictable that someone would want to take this to court,” Holyday said. Before the vote last week, Holyday tried to dissuade councillors from supporting the ban, arguing it would draw the city into a costly legal fight that “we probably won’t win.” City staff also advised councillors enacting a ban would be “risky” and there would be challenges to defending the bylaw in court.

“We would have been well-advised to let others carry the ball (on a shark fin ban),” Holyday said.

Source: The Toronto Sun 



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