Friday, November 22, 2013

Hold Marineland Accountable Now

A new round of fundraising has begun to help a group of Marineland whistleblowers who are currently facing multimillion dollar SLAPP lawsuits by the captive display facility.  Three of fifteen ex employees who spoke out publicly in a lengthy Toronto Star investigation are being sued.  In the exposĂ© the former employees detailed what they witnessed as persistent and ongoing animal abuse and neglect during their time working at the facility.  Marineland has denied the allegations yet had as many as 6 written orders placed on them by the OSPCA during their investigation. Fallout continues well over a year later as Marineland's vets have recently been under investigation by the Ontario College of Veterinarians.

The SLAPP lawsuits that have been launched against the whistleblowers are both a burden and a blessing.  They will be extremely lengthy and costly to defend however they may be the single greatest opportunity that has presented itself to expose and hold Marineland accountable in the history of the park.  Captive display facilities like Marineland and Seaworld operate under as much secrecy as they can to keep the public from learning the truth about how marine mammals are captured, kept and exploited for profit.    Many of the darkest details we now know about Seaworld, recently highlighted in the film Blackfish and the book Death at Seaworld have come about because of the legal proceedings Seaworld has found themselves in such as the OSHA trial.  Similarly sordid details about Marineland's business came to light because of their legal fight with Seaworld over Ikaika.

Going to court with Marineland will undoubtedly provide the whistleblowers the opportunity to introduce important and irrefutable evidence that will not only vindicate themselves but finally force Marineland to reveal some of its worst secrets yet.  Those who have always refused to answer questions will be finally be forced into accountability on a witness stand.  But the reality is Marineland is able to use their almost unlimited resources to amass a team of high priced lawyers who will attempt to draw this process out as long as possible.  Their motive is to outlast, outspend and exhaust their opponents in classic SLAPP suit fashion.  It has already begun and that is why more fundraising is needed.

In 51 years  governments, police, politicians, the media and animal welfare organizations have failed to hold Marineland accountable.  While demonstrations, leaflets, kind words of solidarity, tweetstorms, retweets and likes have brought more public awareness to the issue the truth is direct action is what is required.  For those who believe in this cause, widespread public  support for those who spoke up about what Marineland is doing to their animals and in doing so risked it all is a must.  Frankly this means helping them stand toe to toe with Marineland in court.

To date over 95,000 people signed a petition demanding protection of Marineland's animals.  If each of those 95,000 people donated at the minimum $5, the people who are now facing financial ruin for speaking out on behalf of those same animals would be in a position to potentially tear down Marineland in court once and for all.  Marineland has chosen their weapon to defeat their critics and it is the legal system.  People have the opportunity to turn it around and use it against them right now.

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