Legislation, still to receive Royal Assent, will phase out the practice of keeping cetaceans, such as whales, dolphins, and porpoises, in captivity, but the two institutions that currently maintain cetaceans will benefit from a acquired rights.
Green Party leader Elizabeth May, who sponsored the private member's bill, said it was a "good day for animals in Canada".
She recalled that several scientists had shown that it was essential to stop this practice with cetaceans, "who need the ocean, space, acoustic communication over long distances".
The bill, which was in third and final reading in the House of Commons on Monday, received support from Liberals, New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois. Some conservatives opposed it.
It prohibits the capture of wild cetaceans, but allows the rehabilitation and rescue of aquatic mammals. The bill also amends the Criminal Code, creating new animal cruelty offenses related to cetacean captivity. Breeding is also prohibited.
The bill also outlaws the import and export of cetaceans, with exceptions only for scientific research or "if it is in the interest" of the animal, the decision being left to the minister.
This is a decisive moment for whales and dolphins, and a powerful recognition that our country no longer accepts to imprison intelligent and sensitive animals in tiny tanks for entertainment purposes.
Marineland Park in Niagara Falls, Ontario and the Vancouver Aquarium in British Columbia are the only two institutions in Canada that keep cetaceans in captivity.