House of Commons Hansard #163 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was pesticide.

Topics

An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals and Firearms) and the Firearms Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would reflect what my colleague has just said. Clearly there is a concern about the abuse of animals. There is not one member of the House of Commons who is not concerned to see that steps are taken for proper protection of animals, but it is not quite that simple. The difficulty is that in this law we are opening up to attack a lot of people who own animals, whether they are domesticated animals or animals which are farmed.

I would like to read a couple of comments from people who love the kind of wording that is included in the legislation. The California based animal rights organization In the Defence of Animals, IDA, launched a campaign called “They are not our property; we are not their owners”. According to the IDA website the campaign proposes nothing less than to change society's relationship with animals. The following few quotations indicate that the campaign has strong support among animal rights activists. The quotations also reinforce the argument that the concept of property is fundamental to understanding the animal rights agenda.

Lynn Manheim, a columnist for Letters for Animals said:

Ultimately there can be no real progress until society undergoes a paradigm shift, a new way of looking at the world which opens the door to new systems of interacting with it. We have seen most strikingly with the women's movement, language plays an essential part in such a shift. Establishing legal rights for animals will be virtually impossible while they continue to be called and though of as “its” and “things”.

Alan Berger, executive director of the Animal Protection Institution said:

Animal Protection Institute is pleased to endorse IDA's They are not our Property...campaign. Society's perception of animals as property must be changed before legal rights for animals can be established. The time is right to make such a change.

This one is from Kristin von Kreisler, author of

The Compassion of Animals:

IDA's They are not our property campaign will prod us along in our moral evolution. Just as we have moved beyond “owning” people after the Civil War, we now need to move beyond “owning” animals, who deserve a far greater understanding in our society than simply being treated as property or things.

This is one from Jane Goodall of the Jane Goodall Institute:

In the legal sense, animals are regarded as “things”, mere objects that can be bought, sold, discarded or destroyed at an owner's whim. Only when animals can be regarded as “persons” in the eyes of the law will it be possible to give teeth to the often fuzzy laws protecting animals from abuse.

Let me repeat the objective of this particular activist: Only when animals can be regarded as persons in the eyes of the law will it be possible to give teeth to the often fuzzy laws protecting animals from abuse.

Those are the people and the organizations the government is not taking into account. The wording of its legislation is simply not precise enough to stop this kind of fuzzy headed thinking.

This quote is from Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of When Elephants Weep and

Dogs Never Lie About Love:

How can we own another person? We cannot. Why then should we think we can own another being, a dog, a cat or a horse? The law may tell us we can, but the law also told us in the past that men owned their wives, parents their children, slaveowners their slaves. I now realize how wrong it is to consider myself an animal “owner”. Language is no trivial matter, how we use it affects how we think and then how we act.

We can no longer own a dog, a cat or a horse. Perhaps this person would also like to give them the vote. I do not know. This is another quote:

I looked up the word “property” in the dictionary. It said, “a thing or things owned”. To me, this makes it clear that, by definition, animals can never be considered property. A “thing” cannot love. A “thing” cannot act from compassion. A “thing” will never risk its own life to help a stranger or even a friend.

This is so fuzzy it is almost, in my humble opinion, slightly humorous. But it is not humorous because we are talking about the lives and the livelihood of people who are involved in the agricultural industry.

We are talking about the potential effect of criminal prosecution against anybody who owns an animal. As human beings we can own animals. Let us be clear, that is exactly where I am coming from.

When we look at the various motions by the member for Selkirk--Interlake that clause 8 be deleted, if we are unable to pass the amendments that are required to prevent harassment prosecutions of farmers, ranchers, medical researchers and all other Canadians who use animals for their livelihood, we should delete the entire animal cruelty section. That is where we are coming from. We must be more precise.

There is another motion we will be opposing. It is Motion No. 4 by the member Ancaster--Dundas--Flamborough--Aldershot which states:

That Bill C-15B, in Clause 8, be amended by replacing line 5 on page 3 with the following:

“other animal that has the capacity to experience pain.”

We are opposing it because the amendment simply changes the definition of animal from a vertebrate other than a human being to any other animal that has the capacity to feel pain, with emphasis on the word feel, a vertebrate other than a human being and any other animal who has the capacity to experience pain. We are opposed to either definition as both broaden the term “animal” in the context of criminal code offences.

We are aggressively opposed to Bill C-15B for the simple reason that it opens the door to fuzzy headed thinking about the ownership of animals and the ability of people to work with animals within our society in the humane ways in which they are presently working with them.

Again I want to make it perfectly clear that every member of the Canadian Alliance and I as the member for Kootenay--Columbia are concerned about the potential abuse of animals, livestock and domestic animals. We are all concerned about that. However the proposed law does not cut it. It is far too imprecise. That imprecision will open the door to the potential criminal prosecution of people in my constituency and any other rural constituency where people are dealing with domesticated animals or livestock.

The member for Selkirk--Interlake has moved Motion No. 5 which states:

That Bill C-15B, in Clause 8, be amended by replacing line 7 on page 3 with the following:

“who, wilfully or recklessly, and in contravention of generally accepted industry standards,”

The amendment is designed to better protect farmers, ranchers, medical researchers and others who depend upon animals for their livelihood from nuisance prosecutions by animal rights activists. Any member in the House, anybody reading Hansard , anybody watching this debate on television who does not believe that the bill will not open farmers, ranchers and dog owners to the potential of criminal action as a result of the activity of animal rights activists probably does not know what day of the week it is.

The former Minister of Justice called on a number of amendments that will actually straighten out a certain amount of this badly flawed bill. We are not in opposition just to be in opposition. In fact with respect to Motion No. 6 the opposition will vote in favour of the government's amendment to its own bill. It takes some tiny steps toward resolving this imprecise situation of which I spoke.

We have gone over the bill with a fine-toothed comb. On balance, unfortunately there is a tremendous amount lacking and a tremendous amount of potential danger within Bill C-15B.

An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals and Firearms) and the Firearms Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I compliment my colleague who just spoke and also my friend from Lakeland who spoke a minute ago on their speeches. They touched on many of the concerns the Alliance has with Bill C-15B.

I want to point out that in a way Bill C-15B underlines the misunderstanding or the lack of appreciation that the government has for farmers and ranchers in Canada. This is one of many pieces of legislation and initiatives that the government has taken that really make it difficult for farmers to make a go of it today.

I refer to the endangered species legislation which would not properly compensate farmers and ranchers whose land would be taken out of production because of the legislation. This comes at a time when farmers are already in straitened circumstances. I refer to Kyoto which potentially could have tremendous negative consequences for farmers and ranchers. I refer to the government's unwillingness to address the drought situation in the prairies and the lack of a suitable farm safety net that would allow farmers and ranchers to make it through tough times when European and American farmers are receiving heavy subsidies that distort the market.

On top of all of that this really causes me to wonder whether or not the government understands what is going on in rural Canada. It seems to be completely insensitive on the issue.

My friend mentioned the problem of gophers on the prairies. I can assure members that this is a real problem. A couple of years ago a farmer just outside of Seven Persons, Alberta called to say he was being overrun by gophers. Times were tough on the farm and he complained about putting seed in the ground only to have swarms of gophers consume everything he had planted. It is difficult to deal with that kind of situation without the support of government.

In Alberta there is a real move to deal with the problem of swarms of gophers that cause all kinds of destruction not only to crops but leave holes that cattle step in and break legs, and cause destruction to underground wiring and so on. Many people are concerned to start to deal with the gopher issue the way that they have always dealt with it in the past which is to use poison in some cases or shoot them in other cases.

They are concerned that the government will be lobbied hard by animal rights radicals to stop that activity which they need to do to protect their livelihood. It is quite common for farmers to protect lambs at lambing season against predators such as coyotes and foxes. They need to know that they can do that and not fear being pursued by the government because radical animal activists have been pushing the government hard on this issue.

In northern parts of the country ravens are a problem. They go after the eyes of newborn livestock. Farmers and ranchers need to know that they can protect their livestock and property and that the government will support them. The government has failed to make its intentions clear by not allowing us to pass some of the amendments that the Canadian Alliance had proposed.

We are very concerned that the government is mixed up in its priorities. It seems to be on the verge of granting all kinds of rights to animals at the behest of radical animal activists while at the same time making the livelihood of farming and ranching very precarious. We urge the government to keep this in mind when it proposes to pass Bill C-15B. Other members on the government side who will speak to this come from rural areas.

I note for a fact that they are hearing from farmers and ranchers in their areas. I hope they will have the courage to stand and let the government know that it is unacceptable to start to raise the rights of animals up to the same plane as those of human beings. We are hearing that kind of rhetoric from animal activists.

Members must remember it is not unrealistic to suspect that animal activists will push very hard to take whatever crack that the government gives them in the legislation and pursue it in the courts to make it very difficult for farmers and ranchers to do what they need to do. We need to remember some of the statements that they have already made about going hard after government backbenchers who do not support their point of view. They have made public statements along those lines.

We also know that they have condoned violence and have used violence. They have acted as terrorists, blowing up trucks that belong to fish companies, for instance. They have done all kinds of things to protest the idea that people can own animals and that animals are not on the same plane as human beings.

We know what these people are willing to do and have done in the past. The government is playing far too much to their agenda by going as far as it has gone with Bill C-15B.

Canadian farmers and ranchers want one sign that the government is sensitive to the situation they are in today. So far in the House I cannot think of a single piece of legislation in the nine years I have been here where it has shown some awareness that there needs to be reform that favours farmers and ranchers and is not always against them.

An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals and Firearms) and the Firearms Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John M. Cummins Delta—South Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, at the outset I will make it clear that my party supports stiffer penalties for animal cruelty and is against animal cruelty. It is an issue of concern to us. However the direction the government has taken is clearly wrong. There are other ways to achieve its objective.

I will give an example of the danger that could befall us if we follow the direction the government has taken. Recently in Denmark a fishmonger was convicted and fined $150 in court for having a live fish in his stall. This is the possibility that exists when we elevate the status of animals from property into some sort of nebulous, quasi-human status. What would the penalty be for a fisherman who caught a fish on a hook and brought it in? Obviously the animal is under stress when that happens. What would happen if a fisherman caught a fish in a gill net and the fish smothered, which is what they do in gill nets? Would the fisherman be brought forward in court and fined on that basis? Who knows?

The concern goes beyond that. There is concern in the agricultural community. The parliamentary secretary to the minister of agriculture has suggested the concerns are of no effect. He and the government assure us we do not need to worry about inappropriate interference in the agriculture business not to mention the fishing industry if Bill C-15B is brought into place. However there is considerable concern in the agricultural industry.

I will read into the record a letter by Leo Bertoia, president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada. The letter is directed to the Prime Minister. It is interesting that the president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada would go beyond the agriculture minister and the justice minister and make his point directly to the Prime Minister. He states:

Dear Prime Minister Chrétien,

The cruelty to animals section of Bill C-15B places Canada's dairy producers at unnecessary risk of prosecution for engaging in normal animal handling practices. Dairy Farmers of Canada recommends that three changes be made to the Bill to ensure that farmers can continue, without extraordinary legal burdens and intrusions, to provide top-quality, safe, and affordable food for Canadians.

  1. The current status of animals as “property” in the Criminal Code must be maintained.

Canada's agriculture industry is based on the principal of ownership of animals: a farmer's legal right to use animals for food production stems from his proprietary right in these animals. By moving the cruelty to animals provisions out of the special property section and creating a new section, the Government is changing the legal status of animals. This shift could lead to an unprecedented risk of prosecution of farmers who use animals for food production, as a farmer's right to use his animals would have to be reconciled with the new status of animals under the Criminal Code.

Humane treatment is not compromised by an animal's designation as property. The Government could maintain the current status of animals as property under the Criminal Code and still meet its stated goal of the legislation, which is to increase penalties for animal abuse and neglect.

  1. The defenses of “legal justification, excuse and colour of right” that currently exist under subsection 429(2) must be retained.

Agricultural producers must have access to defenses that provide assurances for legitimate animal-based activities and businesses. Including these defenses would not diminish the stated intent of the law. Former Justice Minister Anne McLellan repeatedly met farmers' concerns with the statement that--

An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals and Firearms) and the Firearms Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The hon. member knows the minister cannot be referred to by name. She must be referred to her as the former minister of justice.

An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals and Firearms) and the Firearms Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John M. Cummins Delta—South Richmond, BC

Sorry, Mr. Speaker, I was quoting directly from the letter and I appreciate that. The dairy farmers go on to say:

Former Justice Minister...repeatedly met farmers' concerns with the statement that “what is lawful today will continue to be lawful”. If the government wants to ensure this, the defences currently available should not be removed.

The third point the dairy farmers make is the definition of animal cruelty in the bill must be amended.

Defining “animal” as “a vertebrate other than a human, and any other animal that has the capacity to feel pain” is too broad. As it is written, Bill C-15B threatens to subject farmers to protracted litigation as meaning is given to this definition through judicial interpretation. More importantly, this broad definition is not necessary to achieving the Government's goal of legislation.

The dairy farmers go on to say:

Prime Minister, no group of people in this country is more concerned about animal welfare than agricultural producers. Farmers set and follow high standards of animal care and treatment, and we believe those who neglect or viciously kill animals should be punished with the full force of law. However, Bill C-15B moves far beyond punishing those who neglect or viciously kill animals. The Bill unnecessarily elevates the legal status of animals and puts powerful legal tools into the hands of animal rights activists to lay animal cruelty charges against producers. At the same time, the Bill takes away defenses that should be available to farmers who responsibly produce Canada's food.

The three changes we have suggested will ensure that the law is fair and just, and will in no way detract from the Government's goal of increasing penalties for animal abuse offenses. I trust you will give careful consideration to these concerns, and on behalf of Canada's dairy producers, I thank you for your attention to this important matter.

The letter is signed by Leo Bertoia, president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada.

I believe that the president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada makes a compelling case for changes to the bill. I think the last thing we want, and I would suggest that it is not the intention of the government, is to have farmers brought before the courts on frivolous charges of abuse. However it is implicit in the bill that that is a possibility.

It is also a possibility that fishermen and others who handle animals in the prosecution of business could in fact be brought forward on charges of cruelty to animals for doing what is normal and expected business practices. They are not practices which are intentionally hurtful but they are the usual practices of either agriculture or fishing.

I urge the government to reconsider the bill and to take into consideration the changes that have been suggested by the Dairy Farmers of Canada and by my colleagues in the Canadian Alliance.

An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals and Firearms) and the Firearms Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the previous speaker for his remarks.

In going through Bill C-15B, it is important to keep in context how the legislation came about. It originally was before the House in the form of what is called an omnibus bill. There were a number of very complex and unrelated subjects that found themselves in the bill which caused a great deal of consternation I think for many members of parliament. It is a usual tactic that the government has employed to have its way, that is to essentially include a number of issues with which most if not all members agree and couple them with other pieces of legislation that the government would like to slide in, putting members of parliament in the uncomfortable position of voting against things of which they actually are in favour.

The strategical tactics unfortunately have blurred much of the merit of this particular bill. However the former minister of justice did climb down from her lofty position and agreed to some extent to split off parts of the bill to allow members to vote more freely and more in line with the wishes of their constituents and their own comfort levels.

We have before us a bill with a number of important amendments, which I would hope the government would consider, that would improve and in fact very much ameliorate the ability of the legislation to address the principle issue, and that is: helping to eradicate and give our law enforcement officials greater ability to enforce laws which are meant to curtail cruelty to animals.

We in the coalition are very supportive of any initiative that will bring about legislation dealing with crimes against animals. This legislation very much puts forward the spirit that we need to punish those who intentionally abuse or neglect animals. Cruelty to animals is an issue that has received significant public attention of late. In recent years psychologists have drawn clear parallels between a child's cruelty to animals and subsequent cruelty toward human beings in his or her adult life as one element to take into consideration.

We support as well the government's decision to put forward an ability for judges to remove barriers, to heighten the sentences and heighten the degree of deterrence that should emerge from cases where there is clear-cut, proven on evidence cases of animal abuse.

We do not, I hasten to add, adhere to the government's position in the legislation that to achieve the deterrents and to achieve the heightened degree of accountability, the government must remove the criminal code provisions dealing with animals from the property section of the code.

The proprietary aspects of animal abuse have always been very important in the prosecution of animal cruelty cases. Moving the animal cruelty provisions out of part XI of the criminal code removes the protection of legitimate based businesses that relate to animals and animal husbandry. By virtue of taking that section out of section 429(2) of the criminal code, this important ability to protect oneself by virtue of the law is removed. Let us be very clear about that.

The current section in the property law allows for legal justification, or excuse or colour of right to be claimed by a person who might be charged. Therefore it affords legal protection for acts which have always been seen as legitimate and outside the gamut of animal cruelty and always based upon the evidence. It is inappropriate and misleading in a malicious way to suggest that somehow removing these sections will protect animals any further than it currently does.

It currently is illegal to perpetrate any sort of cruelty against animals. The problem has been in the prosecution of these offences and further in the ability of the police to lay charges. That also ties very much into the resource allocation currently available for police in the country. Removing the cruelty to animals provisions from this section is of particular concern to hunters, trappers, farmers and to researchers. There is an important element in the use of animals for genetic research. People like John and Jessie Davidson would be the first to say that genetic research is something that has to be given a higher priority by the Parliament of Canada and the people of Canada.

These legitimate individuals who work and depend on animals for their livelihood have expressed very clearly to the government their concerns. They came before a committee. There was extensive study of this issue. Everything the bill seeks to achieve could be achieved by bringing about the amendments but leaving the current sections in the property section of the criminal code. Everything that is sought to be accomplished could be done so in that fashion.

We share the concerns of many Canadians, though, who have spoken about the definition of an animal. Any animal that has the capacity to feel pain does encompass in a large way any sort of cruelty that might be perpetrated. Yet through this definition, the government is putting at risk many activities that currently occur. We have heard examples of those. A farmer who puts a noose around an animal's neck to lead it to pasture or to pull it out of danger could potentially be charged.

We have heard ludicrous examples, such as putting a worm on a hook or boiling a live lobster. Potentially, if taken to the extreme, these types of activities could result in prosecutions. The sad reality of that is that the cost that would be expended and the delay in following through with these types of prosecutions, whether they be brought about by the crown or private prosecutions which currently can occur, would bankrupt and put out of business a lot of individuals who currently rely on animals for their livelihood.

Even the intentional act of stepping on a spider was one example that was given as cruelty to an animal.

My comments are in no way an attempt to make light of a serious situation but to point out that this type of law is very dangerous and should not be proceeded with in this fashion. This law could place fishermen, farmers, hunters, trappers, furriers or any individual that associates with animals at risk of frivolous prosecution and those who espouse radical views about animal protection.

The ensuing lawsuits could paralyze and bankrupt some businesses. It is well intended and there are many individuals who are well intended in their efforts to protect animals, but the reality is the horrific cases of animal abuse are currently illegal. It is a matter of enabling our system further to resource and through attention and priorizing the prosecutions for these types of offences. We support strengthening the criminal code and provisions dealing with animals and many of the improvements that are envisioned by the bill. This punishment and resource question is where the problem lies.

The minister did at least realize the carelessness that occurred in the drafting of the original bill, Bill C-17, and she was careful to now inject the word “wilful” with respect to cruelty and unnecessary pain being perpetrated in the drafting of this new bill.

Regrettably, the former minister did not see the need to keep the animal cruelty sections within the property sections of the criminal code. Thus, this improved legislation would not provide the adequate protection with which the majority of animal business people would be concerned. For that reason, sadly we are unable to support the bill.

We believe the legislation is needed and that further legislation is needed to prevent needless animal pain and suffering. An example that comes to mind is the case that many of us were transfixed on a few years ago when we heard about a Rottweiler dog that was dragged on a chain behind a pick-up truck. There was a case very recently in Kingston that was reported in the Kingston Whig-Standard of horrible abuse to a cat named Solitaire that was bloodied and battered. These type of cases are extremely offensive to the sensibilities of most Canadians.

The traditional practices of hunting, fishing and farming do not fit into the category of mean spirited violence, yet they could very much be caught up by virtue of these changes.

It is imperative that animal cruelty legislation be clearly designated to target those who would engage in brutal, deliberate acts against animals. Just as the other parts of this legislation which deal with firearms legislation, it is fine to try to redefine what the legislation does, yet we know it has been a complete and utter failure. The cost is prohibitive. The intent is such that individuals will not voluntarily participate.

For those reasons, and for reasons which I would like to elaborate on but due to limitations of time I cannot, our coalition cannot support the bill. We would be hopeful that the government would be willing to accept the amendments which would take away those sections which very much undermine the spirit and intent of the bill.

An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals and Firearms) and the Firearms Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dave Chatters Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to again participate in the debate on Bill C-15B at report stage. I believe I addressed the bill at second reading but in view of the government's position on the bill I do not think one can revisit one's concerns often enough.

If the evidence I have seen is any indication of the reasons for bringing the bill forward by the former justice minister, it is for all the wrong reasons. I have a fundraising letter in my office from an animal rights group suggesting that the bringing forward of the bill to the House of Commons by the former justice minister was a payoff for supporting her in a very close election race in the last election. I am really concerned that the bill was brought forward for that reason.

I really think this whole recognition of animals in a Walt Disney sort of animated way leaves the wrong impression and creates these kind of extreme animal rights groups that want to elevate the status of animals to the status of humans with human rights. It is quite ridiculous.

As a person who has been involved in animal husbandry all of my life and who grew up in a family that was sustained through hunting, fishing and the traditional practices that many people today, particularly our aboriginal people in Canada, still maintain is a necessary part of our culture and our very existence, I feel the bill could threaten those ways of life and for reasons that are not necessary.

I think everyone here would agree that we need to enforce the law. Although I am not certain, we may even need to put in place more severe penalties or more severe procedures to punish real cruelty to animals which does exist and does happen. I think the member who spoke previously pointed out some examples which I certainly would not deny. However, life sometimes requires acts that would not be considered kind to animals, whether that be in the slaughter of animals for food, in the husbandry of livestock when someone is ranching or the harvesting of wildlife for sustenance.

If people ever lived in a rural setting and been part of that life they would recognize that it would not be a kind world if domesticated animals were left to fend on their own. I still support the concept of ownership of animals but part of the whole aspect of having animals in the property rights section is a responsibility to look after one's animals in a humane and decent way. I have always taken great pride in the way I looked after my animals and took care of them. If we do that animals are quite content, quite happy and life is as it should be. In those instances where it is necessary to neuter animals or to dehorn cattle, for example, these are not pleasant jobs but they are necessary and part of that culture and lifestyle.

Anyone who has ever been out in the wild or for that matter has watched films showing the taking of animals by wolves, by coyotes and by predators has observed cruelty to the extreme.

There really is nothing more cruel than a wolf taking down a deer or a moose and eating it alive. It is not a pleasant sight. Reality is that life is not always kind and nature is not always kind.

The problem here is that we are going to the extreme. Anybody, whether a person who owns pets or is involved in animal husbandry, who is not terrified when they look at the bill and terrified at the prospect of being maliciously prosecuted by some organizations with very deep pockets is foolish. While someone may or may not eventually find justice, and I would hope they would, our justice system process is extremely expensive and one most of us cannot afford, particularly when we are seeking justice through court action brought on by a group of animal rights people or by the Government of Canada with extremely deep pockets. One could certainly face bankruptcy and destruction of their family. We have seen all kinds of examples of that. As members of parliament, every day we hear from people involved in those kinds of situations and who are trying to defend themselves against a corporation or a government entity with deep pockets. It is a frightening procedure and totally unnecessary.

I myself have seen incidents of unnecessary animal cruelty by those who keep animals for pets or for sustenance. My observation is that we are not enforcing the existing law as we should be. We could do a lot more.

I have watched people in my neighbourhood who I do not think intended any cruelty or intended to be unkind to their animals. They were raised in an urban environment and lived in the country and thought it would be a wonderful thing to raise their own wheat and produce meat raised without pesticides and all the rest of it. That is the kind of mentality of people who move to the country because they do have that right and it is maybe a good thing to do.

In this particular instance these people did not have any idea what those animals needed in the way of being looked after properly with the intention of being turned into food at some point. Those animals were terribly abused. My wife phoned the local animal cruelty authorities on a number of occasions. It was not until one animal was dead and the other very close to death that the authorities were willing to do anything.

Before we go down the road we are going down and make a real mistake, we could do a lot more by simply tightening up existing laws and leaving animal cruelty under the property section in the legislation. I think the minister could accomplish what he is attempting to accomplish without endangering an entire way of life and an entire culture of many Canadians.

Softwood Lumber
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Philip Mayfield Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, because of the Liberal government's failure to successfully negotiate an end to the softwood lumber dispute with the United States, Canada's forest products industry is preparing to withstand the impact of punitive tariffs on $9 billion worth of our lumber exports while the Americans are going to get a multibillion dollar windfall.

Late last year, while watching the international trade minister bungle negotiations, the official opposition began calling for arrangements to support the softwood industry workers. So far the Liberals have no plan to see these Canadians through this crisis.

Entire communities rely on the softwood industry and something must be done about the loss of thousands of these jobs caused by this government. This industry is Canada's largest single exporter.

Even though the Liberal government is raising the employment insurance surplus to $42 billion on the backs of our workers, it changed the Employment Insurance Act and is now denying benefits to many lumber workers.

The government continues to seriously fail Canada's softwood lumber industry.

Regional Development
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

André Harvey Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, may I take this opportunity to indicate that our government will continue to provide important support to the Roberval region, as it has in the past, in areas such as research and tourism, with the Centre de conservation de la biodiversité boréale de Saint-Félicien, as well as in lumber processing through support of such businesses as Pan-O-Star and Produits Forestiers Lamco.

I would also point out that we are going to continue our collaborative efforts with the municipalities in essential infrastructure projects, as we have recently demonstrated at Lac Bouchette and Saint-André.

There are several other projects slated for the Roberval region, which we intend to support.

Criminal Code
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, recently the Manitoba Association of School Trustees, the Council of Women of Winnipeg and other community activists have expressed great concern with Canada's age of consent for sexual activity. All involved express that which we have known for a long time: The age of consent must be raised from 14 to 16.

All too often we hear of very young girls and boys falling victim to sexual predators. Sadly this fate is most often suffered by young girls who are two or three times more likely to be a victim. In fact 54% of girls under 16 have been the targets of unwanted sexual advance.

It is the responsibility of this government to help the nation's parents protect our children. We need to see tough consequences for the people who prey upon the sexual naivety of our young. We need laws that reinforce our commitment to stopping these sexual predators before they strike. This starts with the prohibition of adults engaging in sexual contact with persons under the age of 16.

Post-Secondary Education
Statements By Members

April 8th, 2002 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, representatives of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations met our caucus on post-secondary education. Since then the member for Fredericton and I have met with representatives of CASA universities in the maritimes. The focus of the presentations was access to higher education. Topics covered included strengthening of the Canada student loans program, parental contributions, loan limits and capital cost items, living allowances, in-study income and needs of low income and potential students.

With regard to the last item, CASA recommends additional funding of Canada study grants and improved debt relief initiatives.

I commend these students for their real interest in these matters and for the care and time they put into researching their positions. They are an example to other groups who lobby the federal government.

The House should realize that full access to higher education is the key to the future of a happy, healthy and prosperous Canada.

Daffodil Month
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, April is Daffodil Month. The daffodil is the symbol of the Canadian Cancer Society's fundraising campaign. Today I would like to pay tribute to the Quebec division of the society, which has been under the direction of Yvan Naud since November 2000.

Quebec's first Daffodil Day was held in 1961, and ever since then, this has been a high point in the organization's fundraising activities. Over the years, another fine tradition has developed, the Daffodil Ball, the 9th edition of which will take place on Thursday April 25, at Montreal's Windsor Station.

This community organization is wholly supported by funding from the public, and so it needs our generous support to be able to fund its services to those with cancer, its education projects and its promotion of research that is yielding results.

While in the 1940s, only one person in five diagnosed with cancer could expect to survive, now, one in two can beat this disease.

In closing, I would just like to remind hon. members that the daffodil is a symbol of the hope that we will one day conquer cancer.

Health
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Guy St-Julien Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik, QC

Mr. Speaker, “What is being done for ‘newborn’ mothers?”

This is the title of a letter which appeared in the April 7, 2002 edition of La Presse . It was written by Céline Lemay, a midwife from Boucherville, and deserves the attention of all MPs and MLAs in Canada.

She writes:

The move away from hospital care has highlighted not just a failing in our health care system, but also a failing in our safety net: support for new mothers, new parents.

The rest that women get in a hospital is not really physical in nature: one is not in one's own bed; it is too hot; there is constant noise, etc.; in addition to the potential medical problems for the mother or her baby; staying in the hospital, being exposed to numerous germs, and exposing one's newborn to them.

Visiting homemakers would be quite capable of providing services in the home for a few days.

In the Netherlands, specially trained postnatal assistants help out mothers at home for several hours a day during the first ten days after they give birth.

Albert Richardson
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, last week we learned of the death of Mr. J. Albert Richardson. Mr. Richardson was the province's first NDP leader. He worked for many years in the labour movement where I have personally known him when we were fighting side by side for the rights of workers.

Mr. Richardson was an old time socialist who really believed in the working people. Social causes were always near to his heart. This is probably why he got involved in the New Brunswick NDP. His devotion and beliefs helped him in many battles.

Mr. Richardson will never be forgotten for all the work he has done for the labour movement and as leader of the NDP. The New Brunswick NDP lost a wonderful member last week. The death of Mr. J. Albert Richardson will have an impact on the party forever.

Curling
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to offer my sincere congratulations to David Hamblin and his rink from Manitoba on winning the World Junior Men's Curling Championship. The world curling title has been won by teams from Canada for the past five years.

David Hamblin and his rink of Ross Doerksen, brother Kevin Hamblin and Ross McCannell defeated Sweden in a 3-2 thriller in Kelowna, British Columbia. David needed to throw a cold draw to the 8 foot to secure the victory for Canada. David is not only an outstanding shot maker but his abilities in his role as skip and leader of the team show a maturity well beyond his age of 20 years.

I extend congratulations to David's father, Lorne Hamblin, who served as the team's coach, as well as wife and mother Chris Hamblin whose support of the young curling champions was invaluable.

I am honoured to recognize these fine young curlers. All Canadians are very proud of them.