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Council to vote on shark fin ban today

(Image: Robert S. Donovan)

City council is set to vote later today on whether to ban shark fin products in Toronto, an issue that came to our attention when Brantford blazed ahead as the first Canadian city to prohibit the sale of the product. CBC News reports that as many as 300 people took part in a protest at city hall yesterday to oppose the proposed bylaw. Councillor Doug Ford is also in staunch opposition to the ban. “I won’t be voting for it,” he told the Globe and Mail. “I’m a big supporter of the Chinese community; if that’s part of their culture then we shouldn’t interfere in that.”

Barbara Chiu, executive director of the Toronto Chinese Business Association, feels that a ban could drive Chinese wedding parties out of Toronto, but Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker (who proposed the ban) maintains removing shark fin products from Toronto markets won’t hurt local business. “The reality is that we are going to ban it and all of those restaurants who have concerns today will all be here in a year from now,” De Baeremaeker told the Globe. Karen Sun, former executive director of the Toronto chapter of the Chinese Canadian National Council, is also in favour of the ban. All of this seems to indicate that this is more than a purely environmental issue (shark fin is the largest illegal trade concerning wildlife, inhumanely killing millions of sharks per year); as the Globe’s Greg McArthur argues, there’s also a generational divide at play among Chinese Canadians. Council is already in session now.

• Toronto shark fin ban draws mounting opposition ahead of vote [Globe and Mail]
• Proposed ban on sale of shark fin soup reveals generational divide [Globe and Mail]
• Toronto shark fin ban protest draws 300 [CBC News]