Toronto Judge Rules Toronto Shark-Fin Ban Invalid

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TORONTO — Toronto restaurants could soon sell shark fin soup again. An Ontario Superior Court judge has declared the ban on the sale, possession and consumption of shark fin, invalid.

Presiding over a challenge to the ban, initiated by four members of the Chinese community, Justice James Spence said the bylaw — in effect since September — was outside the powers of the city and of “no force and effect.”

Ruling on the bylaw, the judge wrote, “The power to deal with municipal issues is a broad power since it is not defined in the [City of Toronto] Act. However, that fact does not mean that an issue is a municipal issue merely because a policy decision is taken by city council that an issue is important.”

According to a story in The Globe and Mail, the foursome who challenged the Toronto bylaw maintained the ban unfairly targeted the Chinese community. “The city has not banned or even considered banning, any other food or clothing products enjoyed by any other ethnic groups,” noted Judge Spence in his decision.

The quashed bylaw could see several businesses resume sale of the shark fins. “This is good for business, some people really like shark fin,” Albert Lam, manager, Gold Diamond restaurant, told CBC News.

The decision by Judge Spence has re-ignited the debate over shark-fin consumption. “It’s our hope the City of Toronto will appeal Justice James Spence’s ruling immediately and urge the citizens of Toronto to take a stand,” said Julie Andersen of United Conservationists, a Toronto-based conservation group. “Banning shark fins is the only effective way to quickly stop an unsustainable, often illegal and inhumane world practice with far-reaching ramifications.”

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