House of Commons Hansard #149 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was animal.

Topics

Criminal Code
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, there is certainly something fishy about that point of order.

There is a net economic benefit associated with hunting in Ontario. It employs about 20,000 people, representing $1.5 billion in economic activity. Ontario deer and moose hunters paid over $10 million in licence fees in 2004. Ontario's hunting industry generates more wealth than Ontario's television and film production industry by way of example of its importance to our economy.

Outdoor recreational pursuits like hunting and fishing should be encouraged by government, not discouraged by bad legislation. Protecting animals from unnecessary cruelty is a laudable goal that I support. I do not support legislation that would criminalize the heritage activities of rural residents of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Madam Speaker, I would have a comment. This is a good bill to the extent that the minister has put his foot down and will finally be legislating against animal cruelty. There is a problem, however. The hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke illustrated it perfectly. We are mixing apples and oranges, mixing the gun issue with the hunters, pets, poultry farmers and auctions. Everything is all mixed together.

The committee will have to go back to the drawing board and develop categories within the bill. That is what matters. When Bill C-10 was discussed, this was already a problem. The same happened when we discussed Bill C-22, and it is happening again with Bill C-50. Everybody mixes everything up. How can we ever arrive at safeguards for everyone—aboriginal people, farmers, hunters, fishermen—as well as the industry? This can never be achieved because it is such broad legislation.

I hope the minister will listen to what animal welfare groups are asking for to fight animal cruelty.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, I concur completely with my colleague. Part of the problem is the undue influence lobbyists have with respect to the government. Under the Liberals lobbying the government, often the friends and associates of the Prime Minister and other Liberal cabinet ministers, has become a multi-million dollar industry. Senior Liberals freely move back and forth between elected and non-elected government posts and the world of lobbying.

Liberal lobbyists have accepted success or contingency arrangements where they do not get paid unless they deliver the policy change their clients want. That is part of the problem.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and Minister responsible for Democratic Renewal

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to join in the debate this evening.

I listened with dismay to the replies of my colleague opposite. The replies she was reading out had nothing to do with this very important issue. She claimed to be defending, for example, the hunting community, a community with which I am very familiar. I lived in the north for many years of my life, whereas in fact she has not.

She was using this debate for partisan purposes. I heard some of her references to farmers. She mentioned the value of the hunting and fishing industry in Canada and in Ontario. It is very small in comparison to the value of the farming industry to us in financial terms but also in terms of basic national security, in terms of providing high quality food at reasonable cost under all circumstances. I think my colleague did a great disservice to those communities in the way she spoke to this bill.

As my colleague from the Bloc just said, the bill has nothing to do with those things. It has nothing to do with normal farm practices. It has nothing to do with normal hunting and fishing practices. It has to do with people who are viciously cruel, unnecessarily cruel to animals of any sort.

If ever there was a community in the country that has a vested interest in the care and well-being of animals, it is the farming community. Go to a dairy farm in my riding and see the involvement of the family and children. The children in the 4-H clubs are rearing calves and showing calves. They are not people who wish that unnatural people are free to viciously torture and kill animals. They are people in our society who are well educated, well informed, involved in an industry which is of basic and fundamental importance to us all. The bill has nothing to do with those things. This bill has to do with unnecessary and deliberate cruelty to animals.

The bill has been around for a considerable period of time. For various reasons it did not pass in the House. One of them was the opposition of the Conservative Party members or that party's previous incarnations. The pre-incarnations of the Conservative Party, the Reform and Canadian Alliance opposed it for partisan reasons similar to those mentioned by my colleague. Then it was delayed in the other place, and I deeply regret that. This is something I regret. Of course, it is the responsibility of the other place to manage its own affairs.

I do regret this whole period of time of uncertainty not only for the animals and people who own the animals as to what is animal cruelty and what should be involved in that, but also to the industries upon which doubt is being cast. Farmers are not the people who are cruel to animals and people should know that.

Over the last few years changes have been made here, in the other place and in committee. There has been a stronger and stronger consensus not only among farmers and hunters, I would like to think, and fishers, but also in the research community which initially had concerns with the legislation but now are much more comfortable with it. That is very important.

It is interesting that one of the purposes of the bill, and why this has been delayed for so many years I cannot understand, is quite simply at one level to bring the penalties which have been in existence, and which are in existence as we speak today, up to date. It is no longer the 1950s or the 1960s. The dollar is not worth what it was in the 1950s and the 1960s. The penalties which people face for cruelty to animals today are decades and decades old. One of the purposes was to increase the existing penalties and to make them real.

Today for the worst possible mutilation or torture of an animal one could think of, the maximum penalties are up to six months in jail or a $2,000 fine. In this day and age if someone tortures an animal, be it a puppy, a cow or a deer, and I am talking about deliberate mutilation, not accidents or whatever, the penalties should go up.

In the bill those penalties go up from a maximum of six months to five years in prison, and the decades old ceiling of $2,000 is being removed. This is simply in line with other indictable offences in the Criminal Code. Currently there is a two year maximum on orders preventing the offender from owning and possessing animals. For someone who tortures an animal, be it a large animal or a small animal, there is a two year maximum on preventing that person from owning a similar animal again. This is not appropriate. Anyone, be they a hunter, fisher or farmer, accepts that. The legislation should bring such matters up to date.

Also under the bill I am glad to see that the person responsible for these horrific acts will be responsible for some of the costs associated with it. Periodically we read of people deliberately mutilating cattle. We do not know where this is coming from. People would think it was a grizzly bear, but people were actually mutilating them. Now when a person is caught, in addition to the higher penalties, the person will be involved in repaying the costs for this horrific damage. That is simply good judicial policy.

One of the changes that is involved in this legislation is the creation of the new offence that directly targets the wilful killing of an animal with brutal intention. We heard earlier today about strapping an explosive on an animal or fastening an animal to a rail line. If that is not cruelty, I just do not know what it is. These are despicable forms of cruelty. Goodness knows if the same thing happened to human beings what it would be.

The person may not be caught by our existing law if the person had a legitimate excuse for killing an animal. An example would be if someone had to put down a dog, but instead of euthanizing the dog in a reasonable fashion, in the meantime, the person decided to have some horrific fun and strapped the dog to a rail line and waited until a train came by and took pictures. This is a loophole in the present legislation and it should be changed.

Throughout this legislation we are dealing with intentional brutality. We are not dealing with accidents that happen in the home, accidents that happen on the farm, accidents that happen in hunting and fishing camps. We are not talking about that. We are talking about someone who is deliberately and wilfully cruel to an animal.

Euthanasia, slaughter, hunting practices are humane at the present time. There are codes of practice which protect those things and while there are inhumane people in every walk of life, most of those people know the rules. They have taken the courses. They know what is involved in those areas of activity. They go out of their way to minimize pain and suffering. Those people will not be affected by this legislation.

There is the matter of the definition of an animal. At the moment there is no definition of an animal. I have talked to members of the farm community. Is it better to have a definition of an animal which says “a non-human vertebrate”, or to have no definition at the present time and have someone taken to court for being cruel to a worm? It is incomprehensible. A definition is appropriate in legislation of this type.

Some of the concerns of the people involved in farming or in hunting or fishing is because they have been misinformed by members of the party opposite. However the time has come to pass this legislation.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Madam Speaker, we do not need the government to tell us or give us the impression that it is going to protect farmers because it certainly has not in the past. Nothing in the legislation indicates that it would protect farmers or hunters in spite of what the member said.

The government's past history indicates that farmers are at risk every time the government says it will look after them. We have a firearms registry that does not work and that has been nothing but a problem for farmers and legitimate gun owners, such as hunters.

In the past, animal cruelty bills have come forward from the government that have not been acceptable and have not been workable for our farm communities. We have had failed farm programs for 12 years now. We have a failed trade position at the WTO. The government says that it is protecting farmers but it is not doing that.

The biggest joke of all was when I heard the member blaming us for the failure of the animal cruelty bills in the past. The government has had a majority in the House of Commons for the past 10 years and if it had wanted to pass an animal cruelty or an animals rights bill it could have done that but it chose not to do so. It is not appropriate for the member opposite to say that this has something to do with the party on this side of the House. It needs to be understood that the legislation contains no protection guarantee for farmers and hunters.

The member talked about the importance of increasing the penalties. I do not think any of us would disagree that we need stronger penalties dealing with animal cruelty in this country. However the problem is not with the length of the penalties. It is with the government and what the justice system under it does with those penalties.

Does the member actually believe that under the Liberal government people would ever get more than six months in jail for whatever they did to an animal when we have people walking around this country right now who have killed somebody with a cue ball in a sock and were given house arrest? I do not think that is reasonable and I do not think he can expect that we will ever see anyone in prison for more than six months on an animal cruelty charge as long as the Liberal government is in power.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

November 14th, 2005 / 6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, my colleague does not realize that things die on the order paper in Parliament, particularly if they go to the other place.

Every common law protection that farmers have today still exist and there will be no change to them. This would be a change with respect to penalties in particular and the definition with respect to intentional cruelty. Farm practices and hunting practices would be protected. Deliberate cruelty to animals would not be protected.

I believe my colleague is doing farmers an enormous disservice. These five years of debate using farm examples have done the farming community a great disservice with respect to the consumer. The consumer thinks that farmers, who are represented by the people over there, are somehow in favour of animal cruelty, which is not the case. That party has done the farming community an enormous disservice.

The member mentioned human cruelty. I would like to point out that the link between deliberate cruelty to animals and family violence has been demonstrated time and time again and is well represented in psychology and psychiatric tests.

A very interesting link that has been well demonstrated is the link between demonstrated behaviour with respect to deliberate cruelty to animals and serial killing. I did not raise this matter, the member raised it. This is not my prime reason for being in favour of this legislation. If somebody deliberately mutilates a cow or a puppy, that person should not only get the full penalty of the law but the person should register with the law with respect to potential serious human cruelty offences in the person's home and on our streets.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Criminal Code
Adjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Thompson St. Croix—Belleisle, NB

Madam Speaker, just before the break I asked the government a question in the House of Commons during question period in relation to an LNG terminal or terminals proposed to be built in the United States at Passamaquoddy Bay, which is very close to Canada. In fact, to service this terminal, these LNG tankers, if built, would be required to go through internal Canadian waters. That capsulizes the issue.

Our position, the position taken by the Government of New Brunswick and the citizens of New Brunswick and the surrounding areas is simply that this area is much too dangerous for an LNG terminal. We are saying that the Government of Canada should stop it now because Canada is in a position to say no to the transport of those LNG tankers through Head Harbour Passage.

Head Harbour Passage is one of the most difficult waterways in all of eastern Canada to navigate safely. We have suggested that the Government of Canada should say the same thing now as it did 30 years ago when it said no to a similar proposal on that side of Passamaquoddy Bay. At that time, an American corporation was looking at building an oil refinery in the same location and those ships would have had to go through that very narrow, dangerous channel at Head Harbour Passage. The Government of Canada, about 30 years ago, said no to the passage of those ships, stating that it was too dangerous. After having done extensive studies on that waterway, the government concluded that it was simply too dangerous and that it would not risk our citizens, our environment and our economy by allowing those ships to go through there.

The Government of Canada should say the same thing today because there is an application to proceed with at least one of those terminals on the American side of Passamaquoddy Bay. For the government not to act, sooner as opposed to later, is not an acceptable position. It knows that the size of the ships going through there will be bigger than any ships that have navigated that passageway in our lifetime. The ships are simply too big and too dangerous to go through that stretch of water. Why the Government of Canada would not simply say no now is hard to believe. We are simply asking the government to protect our citizens, our environment and our economy by doing the right thing.

The government can do that in many ways. Under the Fisheries Act, I will cite sections 43 and 29 . It could enforce the Canada Shipping Act and say no under section 562.1(1)(e), or the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

The Government of Canada has the power to say no. We are asking the Prime Minister not to dither on this file, to stand and protect Canadians, to do the right thing and say no to the transport of those tankers through our waters.

Criminal Code
Adjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Miramichi
New Brunswick

Liberal

Charles Hubbard Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Madam Speaker, the government is aware of and recognizes the concerns of local communities related to the proposed liquefied natural gas, LNG terminals, in Passamaquoddy Bay. We would like, however, to assure them that Transport Canada is monitoring the situation closely and that our government has indicated Canada's specific interests in this issue to the United States government. In addition, we will work with the province of New Brunswick to ensure that Canadian interests are respected.

Based on the action taken by the government in the 1970s and 1980s, when an oil refinery was being proposed in the same area, Canadian communities requested that Canada refuse the passage of LNG ships through the Canadian waters of Head Harbour Passage.

Although no proposal for an LNG terminal on the U.S. side of Passamaquoddy Bay has yet been filed with the United States authorities, the Government of Canada is in the process of commissioning a study to determine what the potential impacts will be and it will include various government departments that will do a factual understanding of the possible impacts in order to make an informed decision.

Given the findings as to the risk of pollution and the impact of a significant oil spill in the area, our government some years ago concluded that the environmental risk was unacceptable. Therefore, we did not grant permission for oil tankers to go through Head Harbour Passage.

However, I emphasize that the conclusions of these risk studies are for the most part not applicable to LNG terminals and associated LNG ship traffic, despite the same geographic area. The conditions in terms of environment with an oil slick cannot be compared with what might happen with an LNG spill which is a vapour that would quite easily disappear. It would not affect marine birds, mammals, the fisheries and other shore areas of that specific area of New Brunswick. The cargo, as we mentioned, does not have the same difficulties in terms of dispersing in the prevailing wind, but the fact that a fire could occur would mean that there would be concerns.

The Government of Canada is undertaking a study to determine the potential impacts. We also are considering the fact that most areas of eastern Maine have not approved terminals of this nature, so it is up to further consideration.

I can assure Canadians that the Minister of Transport, the Ministers of the Environment and Fisheries and Oceans are very much aware of this file and will do everything within their power to ensure that if it should occur in terms of an application to U.S. authorities, that we will study the matter with due diligence.

The hon. member lives in that area. It is a tremendous area for tourism. It has a great economy in terms of fisheries. I am sure our government would not want to see anything happen to that very rich area of southwestern New Brunswick.

Criminal Code
Adjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Thompson St. Croix—Belleisle, NB

Madam Speaker, I cannot believe what the parliamentary secretary saying. The government wants to do yet another study on this issue and then, to make matters worse, he suggests LNG is not as bad as oil tankers. That defies every known piece of information in the universe. I cannot believe the parliamentary secretary would suggest that.

Why have these terminals been turned down by every town, village, city and port on the eastern side of the American seaboard? Because they are dangerous sites. The last one licensed to the United States was built 125 miles off the coast of New Orleans. Why 125 miles? Americans do not want these sites. Now with the new energy act, it is more difficult for communities to turn them down, like they have done in the past.

We will be the pawns in all this. Canadians are the ones who will be taking the risk. Do we not have a right to say no, as American jurisdictions have done up and down the east coast of the United States? I want the parliamentary secretary to answer that question. Do we not have the right to say no in Canada, a sovereign nation?

Criminal Code
Adjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Hubbard Miramichi, NB

Madam Speaker, the hon. member is from New Brunswick, as I am. He fully realizes that in New Brunswick preparations are already underway for an LNG in the city of Saint John area.

We also know that sites are under consideration and some have been approved in other parts of Canada. In terms of shipping and the fact that tug boats would be used and in terms of our new GPS systems, if there is a possibility it might occur, we want to ensure that we have the proper safeguards in place. However, we cannot deal with questions in terms of what if. The hon. member is asking, “What if the Americans” or “What if the state of Maine decides”.

We have to wait to see what the Americans will do. At present nothing has been filed in with the United States authorities to make an LNG terminal in Maine. It is under consideration and review, but certainly nothing has gone forward in terms of a proper application to American and state of Maine authorities.

Criminal Code
Adjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:40 p.m.)