Current Conditions
2.3 C
Light Rain
Today's Forecast
5 C
Periods of rain or drizzle
Sponsored by Highland Ford

News And Views




Shop Local

More Local

Search The Web

Google Search

Local News

Should City Council allow traveling circus animal acts?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012   by: Darren Taylor

City Council will soon discuss the question of whether or not to permit traveling animal shows, such as circuses, to perform in Sault Ste. Marie.

Possible passing of a by-law prohibiting local performances by traveling shows which use wild, exotic animals such as elephants, lions, tigers and bears, will be discussed at Council’s next meeting in November.

A report on the issue was accepted by Council as an information item at its last meeting on Monday.

The report includes a great deal of online information highlighting cruelty to circus animals.

There was also a listing of many incidents in which public safety was an issue, such as a 1999 Timmins incident when a circus employee was killed after being struck by an elephant, another 1999 incident in which two trainers suffered minor injuries when they were bitten by a lion, and a 2007 Newmarket incident in which three elephants escaped from a circus and wandered into a residential area before being successfully rounded up.

In May of this year, Council passed a resolution forwarded by Ward Two Councillor Terry Sheehan requesting the City Solicitor draw up a report on how the City could pass a by-law that would keep traveling animal acts such as circuses from performing in Sault Ste. Marie.

Sheehan pointed out in the May resolution that many shows, such as Cirque du Soleil's Quidam, which performed at the Sault’s Essar Centre this past spring, provide a high level of quality entertainment without using wild animals, and that 29 municipalities across Canada have moved to prohibit circuses that use animal acts.

Monday’s item also contains information related to Bill 50 (the Provincial Animal Welfare Act).

Nevertheless, the information item accepted by Council at this Monday’s meeting includes a recommendation from City Solicitor Nuala Kenny to take no action on the matter.

Kenny explained to this recommendation comes for two reasons.

"The City of Windsor passed a by-law that would prohibit circuses coming to Windsor. An Ontario Superior Court of Justice struck that by-law down in 2004. The City of Windsor did not appeal, so it is law in Ontario. We followed that lead. So Windsor’s not appealing was very significant.”

“What the Court said at the time was ‘cruelty to animals ’ was covered by both the provincial and federal governments, and not by municipalities,” Kenny said.

However, Kenny says Sheehan is correct in that the Ontario cruelty to animals legislation has been amended by Bill 50 subsequent to the Windsor by-law, and specifically authorizes municipalities to pass by-laws to protect animals.

“That definitely tweaks what happened with Windsor, but the Court also stated that under freedom of expression in the Charter, if you have an act that uses animals as a form of entertainment or theatrical use, that it is a type of ‘expression’ permitted under the Charter,” Kenny continued.

The second reason Kenny recommended that no action be taken by Sault Ste. Marie on the matter is “we have been advised by our Community Services Division that we just don’t get those acts, they don’t come here. They used to, but not anymore.”

Regardless, Sheehan put forward a Notice of Motion on Monday, stating he still wants the matter debated at Council’s first meeting in November, feeling that the changes in Bill 50 changes the picture, and wants everyone on the same page when it comes to animal shows in Sault Ste. Marie.

Correspondence from the Kiwanis Club, addressed to Council, states the local chapter of the Club has been tentatively selected as a host for the famous Royal Canadian Mounted Police Musical Ride for its 2013 tour, with final approval to come hopefully in January.

Club President Brad Frechette points out that the local club hosted the 2009 RCMP Ride and the event raised over $20,000 for children’s programs in Sault Ste. Marie.

Frechette urges Council to consider any wild animal by-law thoughtfully so that the Kiwanis Club would be able to host the RCMP Musical Ride in 2013 or any other future year, stating that “the RCMP is a model organization for the treatment and care of their animals.”

Sheehan has responded to the Kiwanis Club by writing he would support an exception to any by-law that would allow the RCMP musical ride to perform in Sault Ste. Marie.

However, Kenny told us: “Any such by-law may be open to challenge because of the Charter’s freedom of expression provisions, and also, if you’re saying we’re not going to allow these shows and you list lions and tigers and bears and you don’t list ponies and dogs, that to me seems like an arbitrary cut. So, I think it’s a little dicey, in my view, to arbitrarily split which animals come under the care of the municipality and which should not.”

Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
MR40 10/24/2012 4:54:22 PM Report

wow- you councilers have way to much time on your hands..
Sam C 10/24/2012 5:08:17 PM Report

Sheehan wants a by-law prohibiting performance that use "wild or exotic animals," but thinks they can make an exception for horses.


I stand to be corrected, but I don't believe the RCMP goes out and captures a dozen wild mustangs before each show.
wallyhunter 10/24/2012 5:24:00 PM Report

I would like to know where they get this stuff. And we elected them.
~~BrOwN EyEz~~~ 10/24/2012 5:26:26 PM Report

the city has taken away bellview park animals so the families and little kids could see and enjoy .. so ya city take away the circus that kids enjoy every year going to see at the gardens!!! thats kool of yous.. what will be left here for the lil ones to enjoy?? NOTHING
moosehunter2 10/24/2012 5:52:18 PM Report

The traveling circus is the city council!!! lmao if the people don,t want the circus they would not be going when it comes to town!!! go figure!!!
chief1 10/24/2012 5:53:13 PM Report

when i was a child growing up in wawa i remember the true circus comming to town with the tents set up at the end of town - it was great-i also remember the circus in the early days here in the was great i would watch the tigers an elephants do there acts and even the dog acts were great.last year i attended the cicus just to watch a acrobat show - how boreing and sad and a waste of my money - what happen to the clowns-r they at city hall - i hope not!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
cityhallguy 10/24/2012 6:12:30 PM Report

Sounds like a complete waste of time to me! If the province and the Feds are already dealing with it, why pass a useless bylaw! Reminds me of the no-smoking bylaw. Did we really have to pass one when it was already being addressed and on its way?
jenndefran 10/24/2012 6:22:13 PM Report

I agree with city council, and believe that the traveling circus animal acts should not be able to come to Sault Ste Marie. Those poor animals suffer from extreme abuse, and it continues because so many people still attend these horrible events. There is enough information regarding these issues, so why would anyone want to bring their child or family to such an event? Why not educate the children on how inhumane these acts truly are. There are many things families can do in Sault Ste Marie then make a huge fuss over not allowing a circus come once a year because our city doesn't support animal abuse. There are many other events that come to the Essar for children and families, we don't need the circus..they are a bunch of low lives. And if cities refuse to allow such events with these animals in it, then the need to import these animals for animal abuse..will stop. People who support such events need to give their head a shake, and get in touch with reality. We have alot more knowledge of this stuff now..compared to many years ago.
Christina216 10/24/2012 6:33:06 PM Report

What other events happen at the essar besides hockey and over priced wiggles concert? just curious.
bus 10/24/2012 6:40:06 PM Report

hilary duff, brian adams, kiss, sienfeld, barenaked ladies, scotties tournament of hearts, capital one series, subway super series, ohl all star game. must i go on, be reminded that this is a 5000 seat facility.
bus 10/24/2012 6:44:49 PM Report

and in reference to the story, animals shouldnt be made to do trick for profit. the money these shows make wouldnt even cover the cost of treating the animals fairly. so really, shame on thecustomer who pays dismal amounts to watch animals being abused. if the circus was charging top dollar, and the animals were getting treated fairly, it would be a whole different ball game, but how fair is it to really carry animals around the country in trailers. overall circuses are bad ideas. on the other side of things council shouldnt be wasting this much time on it. propose the by law, take a vote, and pass the bylaw. we know its not a good thing, who cares what other cities do. everytime we need to do something, we look at other cities. for example, the essar centre (Sarnia) more recently the sign bylaw (toronto, north bay, etc) and now the ciricus. just get it done fast and without comparing our small city to these big centres such as toronto
jenndefran 10/24/2012 6:52:38 PM Report

There are many things you can do with your children that doesn't even cost money to spend quality time with them. And the events that are held at the Essar are priced no different then any other city that offer those same venues, you could save and put money aside to attend such things. And I haven't been to a circus since I was little, but I'm sure there tickets aren't very cheap also, I'm sure there prices went up just like everything or everywhere else has. Its just very sad that families still attend these events after knowing how the animals are treated. It is all over the internet with regards to the abuse. The animals don't like entertaining families, traveling city to city, chained up, and performing like clowns. They are beaten 24hrs/day to "entertain" families, and fear the trainers. All so those low life circus owners..make money to continue this cycle..and as long as families continue to pay for their tickets, and support it..then it will never end.
geterdun 10/24/2012 7:05:27 PM Report

What a joke!!!!!!!!! more monkeys or donkeys????? now were should we go to see the circus????? any ideas people???? LOL!!!!!!!This is your tax money at work folks......OMG!!!! im going to pee my pants LOL!!!!!!!What a joke !!!!!!!!!Sheehan for Mayor.......LOL!!!!!!way to much time on their hands ......
lizard79 10/24/2012 7:16:08 PM Report

I don't see why a by-law needs to be passed on this. It is just common decency that we shouldn't allow these acts to perform here. How about when they ask to come or apply for a permit, we just say no. Simple. The end.
chief1 10/24/2012 7:21:26 PM Report

i think if you people really cared about animal cruiety you would stop building windmills and solar fields full of pannals for the profit in your pockets the big wigs only see.i personally have seen the animals scare into our personal liveing areas becouse there habitat is totally-now ruined - right!!!!!!!!
DutchTouch 10/24/2012 7:27:47 PM Report

jenndefran you are very brave to be the "lone voice in the wilderness" and submit your opinion to a lot of folks who either don't care or are oblivious to the way circus animals are treated.
I agree with you and haven't attended an
animal featured circus since I became aware of what was going on and wouldn't take my kids.
It sounds like fun to watch on the surface but just how much fun is it for those animals? Especially the large ones. I'm glad that council is having second thoughts on this issue and hope they turn it down. The animals need a voice to speak up for them so I'm adding mine.
BlackHelix 10/24/2012 7:31:58 PM Report


To your first post - Yes, please go on. No one cares about Bryan Adams or Jerry Seinfeld. My 15 year old niece can't stop going on about how she wishes Elton John or Kiss would come back to town.

To your second post - Why would we compare ourselves to larger cities? Do you mean the cities that have culture, entertainment (and no - Hillary Duff is not entertainment), access to international travel, shopping, jobs, housing, diversity, education? Why would we want to be like that! Not to mention the Supreme Court of Canada. Of course we don't have to listen to them - We're the Sault!

Lastly, everyone is assuming that these animals are being treated unfairly. It's entirely possible (even likely) that they are, but where is the data or facts to support this? If it is true, what do you think the owners will do when their income source dries up? Release them into the wild with a backpack full of food? I don't think so...
BlackHelix 10/24/2012 7:34:49 PM Report


Good point. Let's keep burning fossil fuels for the next 50 years and see what happens to their habitat. Because that's working out so well right now...
Bobby Nerves 10/24/2012 7:37:23 PM Report

I guess everybody is afraid of the competition.

Once, this city was known for the Hurleyville Taxi.

Let the people enjoy a good day with their families in the way it fit them best and stop interfering with the creativity and initiative of all the people with good will.

If you have to research the Hurleyville Taxi, I'll save you the time, watch this:

the coach 10/24/2012 7:47:08 PM Report

Sheehan, your not getting my vote this time. You need a real job. And as the circus deal, give me a break. Cruelty to animals. When I was a kid it was great to go to the circus. Bleeding heart no minds.
Mike99 10/25/2012 12:05:14 AM Report

What a Joke, I agree these high paid morons have way to much time on their hands. They should stop wasting so much time on minor topics and try worrying about what really matters. How many dumb by laws can we possibly pass in this city.. Maybe try spending some of that valuable time on creating jobs and stimulating the economy rather then trying to save the world one by law at a time. It's know wonder everyone heads into michigan to spend a ton of money on recreation and family outings...way to go Sault Canada city council keep up the good work scaring business away from our city......
Bad Dawg 10/25/2012 12:53:33 AM Report

this what we pay them to do.... sit around and talk about banning circuses be cause of alledged mis-treatment of animals.... does that mean the studio is closing??
tcowen 10/25/2012 12:53:54 AM Report

No more monkey business.. sounds like a great campaign slogan for next election.

Of every, any & all things this council should have on their minds.. you'd think circus animals would be more like a placeholder at the bottom of the page.

With over 500 people statistically listed as homeless, 1500 if you include couch surfers & those currently holding a 30 day notice.

Approximately 300 families will be notified that their final EI payment will be two weeks into the coldest part of December & a declining vacancy rate of .5%

Our elected officials seem to be more concerned for the emotional well being of a traveling chimp.?

jackie17 10/25/2012 1:34:30 AM Report

No, I'm a 69 year old italian that still has plastic on my couch.
thomas 10/25/2012 5:59:55 AM Report

ABSOLUTELY NO circuses! Good for city counsel for considering boycotting the TOTALLY INHUMANE exploitation of wild animals in circuses.
The GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH? Ringlings, Barnam and Bailey?
Take a look at this video, and tell me you want your kids to see those elephants after seeing what they go through before performances.

Wild animals should be just that, wild. Not forced to live in captivity performing silly tricks for human enjoyment.
pedwards1978 10/25/2012 6:35:43 AM Report

artimus4378 10/25/2012 7:20:50 AM Report

R they trying to make the Soo the lamest place on earth?
bird_2 10/25/2012 7:29:59 AM Report

We haven't had a travelling circus into town for years now. I was under the assumption that this by-law was already passed. The Shiners put on an amazing circus complete with elephants, lions, tiger and horses across the river. Cheap tickets and the animals don't show any sign of neglect or harm.
jenndefran 10/25/2012 7:33:05 AM Report

To the people that say these animals are not abused. This is pure miseducation and plain ignorance on your part, or maybe you just have no heart. All you have to do, since you obviously have access to the internet is google or youtube (which has undercover people videotaping the cruelty which these animals endure during the training.) Shame on you, I can't believe there are so many ignorant people still that turn a blind eye to this kind of stuff. Why not teach the children how to treat animals, and teach them about animal cruelty. And to one of the above comments..I understand that if circus's stopped, these animals wouldn't be release back into the wild, however they would go to a sanctuary(which they have done when other circus's have closed) however if there was NO demand for this type of entertainment then the demand for these animals would stop. You have to start somewhere, and stop this cycle.
jenndefran 10/25/2012 7:38:23 AM Report

Do you honestly believe the trainers want the elephants to look abused or sick? When everyone, well guess not everyone, most people are aware that they are abused? They train using a bullhook..its the wand with a sharp edge at the top, they hit them with it in training, so they fear it, in their most sensitive areas. Which includes under there arms, joints, etc..their skin is very thin, so when they see it in the circus when they have to entertain, they remember the beatings they had with it, and are gently nudged at the circus with it to stay inline, but after the performance, if they acted out, then they will pay for it. Just google the information, alot of it, is videos from ex trainers of the circus. Knowledge is power.
Old Man Winter 10/25/2012 7:47:51 AM Report

Way too much time to waste at city hall. Too many clowns, wish my taxes were invest in better
sameboat000 10/25/2012 8:06:20 AM Report

I wasn`t going to comment when I seen the headlines but the main point is unless there`s proven animal cruelty charges,city fathers should find more important things to do, FIND WAYS TO LOWER THE CRIME RATE,but that would be to important,or someone elses job.
Stevie-E 10/25/2012 8:35:08 AM Report

I am all for this.

If the people wanting animals to do tricks for them saw how these animals are treated, in which they are OUTSIDE their natural habitat to begin with, you might just change your tune. Animals should not be kept in captivity.

We can still have carnivals and circuses, but with only humans for the entertainment. If you wish to see animals, save some money, quit the bad smoking/drinking/gambling habit and you will have enough in 6 months to take your family to a zoo!

Watch "Water for Elephants" and you will see what I mean.
jenndefran 10/25/2012 8:38:37 AM Report

thanks for the above comment:)
clara 10/25/2012 8:52:10 AM Report

I am so proud of city council for coming out of the dark ages. Live animal acts should be completely banned - period. If you disagree with me, do some research on line and find out what their lives are like. Check out the PETA site and educate yourself. Training methods are cruel, they are constantly confined and for what - our short term enjoyment. For just a moment, think about what their lives must be like. People wonder why elephants suddenly go beserk and stampede through a town. They can't take it anymore! I will never support a circus with live animals. Cirque du Soleil's philosophy is no live animals! Someone mentioned Bellevue Park and that the animals were taken away. Of course they were, they were living in archaic, out-dated conditions.
It broke my heart to see how some of them lived. Open your minds and your hearts. Think about those who cannot speak for themselves.
bello 10/25/2012 8:59:50 AM Report

As a Saultite, I am never ceased to be amazed at the drivel on the these posts on Sootoday. You are really proving the the term "small town mentality, steel town mentality" here
Having animals do stupid pet tricks for your entertainment, is assinine. Do you really think these animals are treated fairly? Living in small cages, being taught idiotic tricks for amusement, and now you want to decide whether or not to allow these travelling shows should be allowed in SSM? Please dont show how ignorant you are SSM.This should be a no brainer, even for this city.
iLash 10/25/2012 9:03:07 AM Report

These animals belong in the wild! YES rehabilitated and introduced back in! Those that can't belong in a sanctuary that mimics their natural habitat! Instead of raising children that have no value or morals of wildlife try educating them on the importance and the animals roll in nature! This is very important! All of you saying it isn't is "Sault" mentality at it's best! There is life beyond Sault Ste. Marie! Not only that many of these animals are endangered! How do you think circuses come to buy them????? I have not ever brought my daughter to any circus and won't unless it is animal free. If you want something done about the "crime" go to one of these meetings and voice your concerns or give a call to your ward and do something about it!
Kevin5069 10/25/2012 9:32:40 AM Report

How do these fools get elected in the first place?
saultresident 10/25/2012 9:59:32 AM Report

I am opposed to any company using animals as attractions. Marine Land, the circus, the zoo... If an animal is rescued, that is wonderful, but don't raise generations of animals that will be used for a person or companies financial gain and put these animals in harms way.
bml69 10/25/2012 9:59:53 AM Report

All I can say is- growing up, I never went to the circus here, and I was proud of it. My mother explained the torment these animals go through when I was very young and I never looked back. You are complaining saying your taxes are being wasted on animal rights? You are an imbecile. Animals deserve the same rights we do, if not BETTER. Today's humans are disease of the earth, our people have destroyed countless habitats, and don't think twice about it. What happened to giving thanks to the animal who life has been sacrificed so you could eat? The supermarket take the fun out of it for ya? I realize I am a person living in today's day and age, but I refuse to be such a moron who would protest intelligent, compassionate thoughts to ban cruelty to our fellow creatures on this earth. Wouldn't be so fun if it was you getting shuttled around, starved, abused, and put on display would it?
Wisenheimer 10/25/2012 10:00:12 AM Report

We elect them ... Therein lies the crime.
sumosah 10/25/2012 10:22:16 AM Report

well the "circus' that has been coming here for the last few years doesnt really have any animals 2 years ago I think it had an elephant for kiddie rides but have stopped that too ... mostly performers and a couple of dogs in a lion costume which was very entertaining so this bylaw would prohibit this and probably buskerfest think about it .... do you need a bylaw to NOT go to something...remember when it is done in writing it opens a whole lot of room for interpretation to let this city conservatively close our doors to alot of other things....
Kubrick 10/25/2012 10:26:05 AM Report

Its funny, u guys see a video of animal abuse on YOUTUBE of all places, and think its the same for every circus in the world. Some people in this world are sick, not everybody is like that. I do think there should be some random inspections though to verify the animals treatment and well being. People these days, I guess next they should shut down all the Zoo's everywhere, Dog Shows, Horse Racing whatever....... Welcome to Nazi Germany, I mean America, sry I mean Canada. You're complaining about animal abuse but I bet you don't complain when you eat your Big Mac.
Meow 10/25/2012 11:02:35 AM Report

I am so proud of City Council. This is the right thing to do. We live in such a progressive City!

I went to Cirque de Soleil (non animal circus) at the Essar Centre with my daughter and it was wonderful. The show was sold out and there were people beside us that traveled from Sudbury to watch the show.

We don't need Circuses that abuse animals and if you don’t believe that these animals are abused the USDA just fined Shrine Circus 270,000 dollars for 27 separate incidents of cruelty.
sea shell 10/25/2012 11:08:36 AM Report

Then don't go!!!
clara 10/25/2012 11:30:25 AM Report

Why do you think so many cities in so many countries are banning animal circuses? Because people have become educated. There are plenty of other ways in which we can be entertained that doesn't cause suffering. Like any other topic, do some research and then form an opionion.
JustMe1234567 10/25/2012 11:52:14 AM Report

I think kids can live without ever seeing animals being forced to perform in these travelling animal prisons. Buskerfest and events like that are a better idea. And not cruel.
Just my opinion.

ackw 10/25/2012 11:55:30 AM Report

Make city hall mobile 'Then you have a travelling circus/pet friendly.
frauleinbroomhilda 10/25/2012 1:10:19 PM Report

Sault Ste. Marie...We really don't need a travelling circus to come to our city. We have our own right here at the CITY HALL. Jackasses!!!!
vipersmum 10/25/2012 5:51:58 PM Report

Good for you Terry Sheehan for bringing this up. It is definitely something that needs to be addressed. So many communities have come to realize how terrible these shows are and are banning them. If enough communities ban them then they will have to go out of business and release the animals into a sanctuary.

There is no doubt and it is absolutely proven that the animals are abused and do not live anything like a normal life whatsoever. No animal trainer with any conscience at all would ever subject their animals to this lifestyle or use any of the training methods or anything the circus does!!!

They really are a disaster waiting to happen, search for elephant rampages - you will find alot more than you thought possible - they dont really make the national news so we dont hear about all of them.

Most of the animals show signs of mental illness from no stimulation or natural lifestyle. Is that what you want to teach your children? This is time for a positive change - for the animals involved and for us as a society to evolve out of the stone ages and gladiator days.
Dead End Kid 10/25/2012 6:19:21 PM Report

Never mind the circus, City Hall should get rid of their donkeys and hire more chimps to run the show. They can't be any worse than the clowns they have in there now. That's what I call entertainment.
Dead End Kid 10/25/2012 6:28:09 PM Report

Id love to understand why most people who care about the welfare of animals have no trouble sitting down to a steak or chicken dinner at the end of the day. Seems a little bit hypocritical to me.(enough said).
vipersmum 10/25/2012 6:40:36 PM Report

you want to open up the whole can of worms? this is one issue we are discussing. dont bring in other issues and try to take the importance away of the main one.
frauleinbroomhilda 10/25/2012 8:44:46 PM Report

Stop the animal circus from coming to our city and then what? Close Spruce Haven Zoo? How about doing something good for the citizens of this lower our taxes, create more jobs and stop taking enjoyment out of our city. Let people decide whether they want to attend these shows or not! Why should you pencil pushing people decide how we spend our time. Put some of the tax payers money towards helping the poor animals at the humane society... Maybe by expanding the building! Start worrying about the citizens in the Soo people! I vote you ALL out. Idiots!
geterdun 10/26/2012 12:53:26 AM Report

I think we should privitize it!!!
city hall that is.....
sisii 11/3/2012 9:33:41 AM Report

Beware, farmers, hunters & anglers and pet owners are also on their hit list. Don't ya think the elephants in Newmarket had some help in escaping? How many people have been bitten by a pet, and yet they drag up incidents from 13 years ago? Peta cannot be given any power, please don't waste any time on this matter. At this rate you will need a college degree just for the priviledge of owning a pet, and a yearly tax fee to boot.
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
Advertising | Membership | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | About | Contact Us | Feedback

Copyright ©2014 - All rights reserved