Shark Fin Ban Ultra Vires – FCM

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.

Click On Image To Enlarge

Click On Image To Enlarge

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.

Join the discussion 11 Comments

  • Not so smrt says:

    The city of abbotsford bylaw does not ban the possession of shark fins. It’s banning the sale of them. This was mentioned countless times during council. You fail to report this and conviently call it a “Shark fin ban” so you can use your comparison and call it ultra vires. Doesn’t this blog complain about other outlets not reporting “both” sides of the story. kudos

  • Meghann Coughlan says:

    Lexus environmentalist! LMAO! Priceless!!!!!

    Patricia Ross is our city council version of this girl:

  • Meghann Coughlan says:

    Besides, maybe she can move on to banning something important like Sasquatch testicles.

  • The Editor says:

    Thanks for your comment Not so smrt

    The City of Toronto’s 2011 bylaw, which was ruled ultra vires ruled no person shall possess, sell or consume shark fin or shark fin food products within the city.

    As taxpayers we are open to the same legal charges, fines and sanctions for outlawing the sale of shark fins as we would be if we had not tried to be tricky.


  • Not so smrt says:

    “As taxpayers we are open to the same legal charges”. Unless you are a lawyer I don’t think you are qualified to make that statement. Possessing and consuming are widly different from, you know applying for a business permit, and selling a particular item. It doesn’t take away from the fact that you left this part out. It seemed like a key point being made in the council meeting.

    • Meghann Coughlan says:

      Not So Smrt, if you are not a lawyer are you qualified to make a statement regarding Mike’s ability to make statements re: the legality of things?

      Life: a never ending circle of a bunch of not-lawyers.

  • The Editor says:

    Cool your jets Not So Smrt. I’m not sure why ‘the part I left out’ about the council meeting which isn’t even mentioned in the story, has become such an issue here.

    The story was about the fact that the FCM advised municipalities it would not take action on the matter other than to lobby the federal government because, just like a number of Abbotsford bylaws, municipalities have no jurisdiction in the matter.

    I don’t support the manner in which shark fins are harvested. I think it is cruel, unnecessarily and inhumane.

    That doesn’t mean I support a municipality passing a law it has no jurisdiction, authority or right to pass.

    Lobby the federal government, protest in whatever way you deem necessary but don’t waste municipal taxpayers time and money passing laws that are unenforceable, racist and illegal.

    It would be nice if more of our councillors had a passing acquaintance with the law or a semblance of an understanding of what it means to break it.

    “Unless you are a lawyer I don’t think you’re qualified …” Then why did you open your mouth on the subject and attack me?

    Let’s stick to the issues instead of calling each other names like ‘not a lawyer’.

    • Not so smrt says:

      @Meghann Coughlan I’m not the one wielding legalities and trying to compare two very different bylaws. There is no circular logic in that.

      The FCM screenshot clearly reads possession. You can’t see the difference between the city telling what you can do in your own home (ie possessing or consuming shark fins) vs applying for a license to do business in the City and profit from this endevour.

      “Let’s stick to the issues instead of calling each other names like ‘not a lawyer’.”

      Lexus-environmentalist vs ‘not a lawyer’ vs ‘Let’s stick to the issues’. Take a step back there and think about that one.

  • The Editor says:

    LOL. OK, referring to Patty as a Lexus-environmentalist is name calling. So I’ll take back my ‘Let’s stick to the issues’ comment and you can feel free to call me ‘Not a lawyer’.

    I think you are misunderstanding the force and the importance of the FCM statement. The Whereas portions of the document which refer to what several cities have done by passing possession bylaws does not mean that only possession bylaws are ultra vires, it means the issue of shark fins is beyond the jurisdiction of municipal government.

    Municipalities cannot simply go around passing laws on things over which they have to jurisdiction and the FCM warned them of that with thier statement, at the bottom of the document, that Shark Fins and related products were a ‘Category B issue not within municipal jurisdiction.

    (I still like Lexus-environmentalist)

  • Not so smrt says:

    Perhaps you should write an article on how the banning of pet puppies in pet stores is illegal so you can use the word ultra vires again. Many of your blog postings are filled with childish attacks – far worse than being called ‘not a lawyer. I’d hardly call it an attack, but it is interesting that when you felt the tables were reversed you pull out the “Lets stick to the issues”. That’s gold jerry.. gold.

  • The Editor says:

    Humour detector broken warning!

    For whatever part I’ve played in making this personal I apologize but the article actually makes a very straightforward point.

    The article points out that the FCM stated last September that shark finning is deplorable and that the FCM supports Bill C380 and requests that the federal government consider changing the laws which govern the practice.

    That is the proper, legal and mandated way of getting laws changed. Passing, illegal, ultra vires, useless and unenforceable bylaws which put the municipality in danger of human rights complaints and legal challenges is nothing more than dangerous, irresponsible and ill-advised grandstanding.

    Several of the municipalities which ignored the FCM’s point have suffered the predicted consequences and have wasted their taxpayers’ time and money defending indefensible legislation.

    Patty should use her influence (such as it is) with her fellow politicians who have jurisdiction in this matter (Ed Fast) in order to actually get something done instead of proposing bylaws and getting them passed with no legal authority or standing, no legal meaning and no practical purpose other than to appeal to her own narrow constituency by all the flattering coverage in the local media for her latest cause.

    As the purveyor of ‘The other side of the news’ we think it is important to point such things out. If you don’t want to read our perspective then don’t.

    If you disagree then use this space, as you have, to express your point of view and contribute to the discussion at hand.

    If you want to continue a personal battle you can use this space as you see fit but our readers will begin to lose interest very quickly (if they haven’t already).


Leave a Reply