Members of the public cheered for joy Tuesday afternoon after Toronto city council voted 38 to 4 to ban the consumption, sale and possession of shark fins.
Jay Beckett sat in the middle row of the council chambers in his shark suit and was ecstatic when the result came in.
“I couldn’t be happier. I was in tears when it happened,” he said. “I just think that sharks are the most beautiful creatures and they are so misunderstood. I just think that it’s something that shouldn’t be ignored. Thank God! I’m proud to be a Torontonian today because it wasn’t ignored.”
Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker was also pleased with the outcome. He hopes to see the shark fin ban spread across to other cities around the world and he is sure that it will happen sooner rather than later.
“I think we’ll see this go around the world within a year,” De Baeremaeker said. “With many by laws in the past, whether it be no smoking or pesticide bans, we did it in Toronto first and the rest of the country and the rest of the world has followed Toronto’s example. We consider ourselves to be a world leader and we’ve done it again today. We’ve shown people the way to do it.”
Shark fin soup considered is served in some Chinese restaurants, and is also served at Chinese weddings. However, according to councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam and Chin Lee, culture has little to do with it.
“Similar to the elephant tusk ivory ban, shark fin is just a luxury and has nothing to do with culture,” Wong-Tam said.
De Baeremaeker respects mayor Rob Ford’s vote against the shark fin ban and says everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion.
“The mayor, like myself and like all of us, have to vote with our hearts and with our feelings and what we think is best for the city,” De Baeremaeker said.
“So when you have 38 councillors vote one way and four the other way. I respect their right to vote the way they saw fit. You very rarely get votes like this where you get right wing, left wing (and) people in the middle all coming together on an issue. I think it’s a great day for the city of Toronto.”