Petition to give Vancouver environmental activist his passport back

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Public asks Justin Trudeau to allow Paul Watson back in the country

By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor

Justin Trudeau isn’t even in office yet and a petition is already going around asking for his immediate action. Though politics might not be your forte, as a Vancouver resident you might want to take note of this one—after all, it concerns one of our own.

Paul Watson is a founding member of Greenpeace and the founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a worldwide non-profit organization that commands a small fleet of ships that go all over the globe protecting marine life, most notably whales and cetaceans, from poaching and legal hunts. They are best known for their efforts in the North Sea, which inspired a reality series on Discovery Channel called Whale Wars, and their continued protests regarding the Taiji dolphin hunt with former Flipper trainer Ric O’Barry. Watson also happens to call Vancouver home—or, at least, he did, before his Canadian passport was revoked by former prime minister Stephen Harper.

Watson is no damsel-in-distress, mind, and he does have outstanding warrants regarding his personal brand of “eco-justice,” which includes shooting flare guns at Japanese whaling vessels and intentionally trying to sabotage their propeller systems.

The thing that made even Watson’s naysayers stand up and pay attention, though, were accusations that Harper revoked Watson’s passport without a trial, effectively denying him return to his home country and access to Canadian embassies in his worldwide travels.

Watson’s passport was seized three and a half years ago by German officials, stating that it was no longer valid, and though Canadian Citizenship and Immigration denied comment, Watson made it pretty clear he blamed Stephen Harper. The confiscation of the passport happened conveniently around a time of legal turmoil for Watson, following repeated conflicts with Japanese authorities. Watson has been barred from Canada ever since. Admittedly, had it been anyone else claiming government conspiracy, even I would have scoffed. But reflecting now on Harper’s track record and his blatant dislike of environmentalists, Watson’s conclusion doesn’t seem so farfetched.

After the recent election, environmental conservationists and supporters of Watson banded together to create a petition asking Trudeau to re-issue Watson’s passport and allow him back into the country.

For more information or to sign the petition you can go to

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The Other Press, Douglas College's student newspaper since 1976. Articles, insight and updates from the New West and Coquitlam campuses.

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