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Toronto shark fin ban draws mounting opposition ahead of vote Add to ...

Opposition is mounting to a proposed ban on the sale and possession of shark fins, with Mayor Rob Ford saying he will not support the move when it comes before city council Tuesday.

The Mayor said he does not believe the city should become involved in such a ban and questioned why the issue is being raised at the local level at this time.

“I am not going to support a ban on shark fins,” Mayor Ford told reporters Monday, adding that he didn't think it was part of the city's purview.

Two of the mayor’s closest allies on council – deputy mayor Doug Holyday and the mayor’s brother, Doug Ford – also say they cannot support the ban, which gained unanimous approval earlier this month at a committee meeting. At the time, the ban gained the backing of committee members who are part of the mayor’s inner circle and it looked as if the proposal would sail through council.

That’s no longer the case in the face of mounting opposition from members of the Chinese community who staged a protest outside city hall on Monday.

“I won’t be voting for it,” Councillor Doug Ford told reporters. “I’m a big supporter of the Chinese community, if that’s part of their culture then we shouldn’t interfere in that.”

Councillor Ford later went out to show his support to the protestors in Nathan Philips Square, who cheered when he voiced his support for their cause.

Councillor Holyday said he is concerned the city could end up in court if it goes through with the ban, leaving taxpayers with a big legal bill to pay. “I don’t know why we have to be doing this fight for North America.”

Councillor Holyday said the issue is better dealt with by the province.

Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, who introduced the motion, said taking one dish off the menu of Toronto restaurants is not going to hurt business, noting that several nearby municipalities have either moved to ban shark fins or are considering it.

“It is like the no-smoking bylaw,” he said. “The reality is we are going to ban it and all of those restaurants who have concerns today will all be here in a year from now.”

About 200 people demonstrated outside Toronto city hall today against a proposal to ban the sale of shark fins in the city.

Many wore signs that say a ban would be “an unfair and irresponsible act.”

Council is expected to vote on the proposal today or Tuesday while Oakville, Brantford and Mississauga have already banned the delicacy which is used in soup.

One man called for councillors to do their research before making a decision.

He says people who legally fish for shark don’t cut off the fin and throw the rest of the shark back, they sell it to fish mongers who sell the whole fish.

But Rob Sinclair of WildAid, which supports a ban, notes shark fin is the largest illegal trade concerning wildlife by far.

With a file from Canadian Press

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