The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has stated that Shark Fin bans are beyond municipal jurisdiction (ultra vires).
At a September 2012 Board of Directors meeting it was decided that such bans are beyond the jurisdiction of municipal governments in Canada.
At the bottom of the 7th page of the document summarizing the decisions made at the meeting, there is a notation that the issue is beyond municipal jurisdiction. The document reveals that, while the FCM took measures to urge the Federal government to change its legislation, it stopped short of urging any municipalities to pass bylaws in an area where they have no legal jurisdiction.
Immediately upon passing their own ultra vires bylaw last fall, the City of Toronto faced a human rights complaint.
In December the Ontario Superior Court overruled the city’s ban.
Beyond concerns over human rights complaints and legal costs, no one at the City of Abbotsford has yet explained how its bylaw department can be expected to enforce a bylaw which directly contravenes a federal law especially when the bylaw in other cities has not stood up to the legal challenges against it.
Lexus-environmentalist Patricia Ross undoubtedly checked with Abbotsford’s legal counsel and the FCM before she brought her motion forward because the last thing she would want to do is get the City in expensive legal trouble.
While the local media have gleefully reported on Ross’ successful motion and Council’s passing of its latest piece of ultra vires legislation, there has been no coverage of the legal problems and costs other municipalities have run into trying to enforce the ban.
Illegal bylaws and decisions have grown to be an almost normal way of dealing with issues at the City of Abbotsford.
From BC’s Municipal Charter, to the Canada Health Act, to the Charter of Rights, to federal and provincial legislation governing health care, Abbotsford’s council have forged ahead with a number of decisions over recent years that may yet come to haunt them if and when anyone challenges their authority to make them.