Debates of Nov. 14th, 2005
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 liberal.
- Question Period
- Foreign Affairs
- Yitzhak Rabin
- Foreign Affairs
- Reproductive Technologies
- Annual Public Health Days
- Yitzhak Rabin
- Government of Canada
- Health Partners International
- Government of Canada
- Diabetes Awareness Month
- Yitzhak Rabin
- Government of Canada
- Sponsorship Program
- David Dingwall
- Sponsorship Program
- Parliament of Canada
- Aboriginal Affairs
- Canada Post
- David Dingwall
- Parliament of Canada
- Fuel Rebates
- Airport Security
- Access to Information
- The Environment
- Mining Industry
- Italian Canadians
- National Defence
- Presence in Gallery
- Ways and Means
- Order in Council Appointments
- Government Response to Petitions
- Telecommunications Act
- Committees of the House
- Canadian Products Promotion Act
- Canadian Forces Superannuation Act
- Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act
- Parliament of Canada Act
- Questions on the Order Paper
- Question No. 183
- Question No. 187
- Question No. 189
- Question No. 191
- Question No. 201
- Question No. 209
- Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
- Question No. 160
- Question No. 165
- Question No. 176
- Question No. 184
- Question No. 186
- Question No. 188
- Question No. 194
- Question No. 196
- Question No. 200
- Question No. 202
- Question No. 203
- Question No. 204
- Points of Order
- Criminal Code
- Business of the House
- Criminal Code
Call in the members.
And the bells having rung:
At the request of the chief government whip, the vote on the motion, as amended, will be deferred until tomorrow evening at 5:30 p.m.
(Bill C-50. On the Order: Government Orders)
May 16, 2005--The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada--Second reading and reference to the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness of Bill C-50, an act to amend the Criminal Code in respect of cruelty to animals.
Paul MacKlin Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to the provisions of Bill C-50, an act to amend the Criminal Code relating to the cruelty to animals.
The legislation has a long and notorious history in Parliament. Members will no doubt remember that the legislation has been before the House on a number of occasions over the past five years. These animal cruelty amendments were first introduced in Parliament in 1999 as part of an omnibus criminal reform bill called Bill C-17 but died on the order paper. They were later reintroduced as another omnibus bill, Bill C-15, in a subsequent Parliament. That bill was split into two portions and the portion which contained the animal cruelty amendments again died on the order paper. The amendments were next re-tabled as Bill C-10 which were again split and again the portion with animal cruelty died on the order paper. In the last Parliament, these amendments were known as Bill C-22. Today we are discussing the same amendments in Bill C-50.
The history of the bill is a long and winding road, which includes two highly unusual incidents of bill-splitting and several messages being sent between this and the other chamber. Given the occurrences of rare parliamentary procedures and ping-ponging of the legislation, a person unfamiliar with this history might come away with the impression that the legislation is still controversial and lacks broad base support.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind the members that in actual fact this House has passed this legislation several times in the last two years with support from members on both sides of the House. In addition, hon. members should recall that the legislation has a history of accommodation and compromise that has brought together groups that advocate for animal welfare, as well as groups that advocate for people whose livelihoods depend upon the use of animals. Let me explain.
Over the past five years there has been spirited and comprehensive debate about the impact of the legislation in both this House and the other place, in committees in both places, in the public domain and in the media, not to mention the innumerable meetings between stakeholders and various government officials. As a result, specific amendments have been made on a number of occasions to this bill. These were not legally necessary changes, I would submit, but were adopted by the government with a view to providing greater clarity about the issues of concern.
These accommodations did not compromise protections against animal cruelty. The end result was that a large number of industry stakeholders came to support the legislation. The ministers received the written support of a broad based coalition of industry groups, including a letter from earlier this year urging the government to re-table these very amendments just months before this bill was tabled.
This coalition of stakeholders includes representatives from the agricultural sector, animal research and the trapping industry. The legislation is not meant to and will not negatively impact on the lawful and humane animal related industries and these industries have now acknowledged that. Of course, animal welfare organizations, as well as veterinary associations, police associations and provincial attorneys general, continue to support the legislation wholeheartedly.
The only difference between this legislation and that which was last passed by this House as Bill C-22 is the inclusion now of a non-derogation clause that reaffirms the applicability of existing constitutional protection for traditional aboriginal practices. This was included after discussions between the minister and concerned senators over the potential impact of the legislation on aboriginal persons.
In every other respect, the legislation we have before us today mirrors exactly that legislation which was passed by this House many times already and which stakeholder groups on all sides of the issue urged the government to re-table.
With that brief history, let me make a few basic points about the legislation.
The first point to note is that Bill C-50 is not about new law. It is about better law. The criminal law already contains a range of offences that prohibit cruelty to animals and has since 1893, but the law is a messy jumble of archaic terminology and piecemeal amendments made on a few occasions since 1893.
The first goal of the bill therefore is to modernize, simplify and rationalize the law as well as to fill in certain gaps in legal protection. This objective is accomplished by a variety of measures, including: removing the distinctions in the law that originate from another century; removing overlapping offences; improving the coherence and functionality of the law by removing problematic language, such as “dogs, birds and other animals”; eliminating the illogical notion of “wilful neglect” that is not found anywhere else in our criminal law; and filling in gaps by creating new offences of killing an animal with a brutal or vicious intent and training an animal for the purpose of fighting another animal.
One other change that bears mentioning is the creation of a new chapter of the Criminal Code devoted specifically to animal cruelty. The new chapter would not change the legal substance of offences but would allow us to stop categorizing animal cruelty as property crime and to symbolically reflect that animal cruelty is most appropriately characterized as a gross violation of public standards of acceptable behaviour, as oftentimes it is a serious offence of violence. In fact, there is increasingly scientific evidence of a link between animal cruelty and subsequent violent offending against humans, particularly in the context of domestic violence. The women and children who are forced to witness animal cruelty know that it is not about property damage and it is time our Criminal Code recognized this reality.
The second goal of the amendments is to increase and enhance the penalty regime for animal cruelty offences. The way that society traditionally recognizes the seriousness of a particular conduct is through the penalty that it prescribes for that conduct.
Bill C-50 would make the law more coherent by clearly distinguishing criminally negligent conduct from wilful cruelty for the purposes of providing different sentencing ranges. The person who keeps too many cats and is unable to care for them all commits a different kind of criminal offence than one who skins a cat alive, and Bill C-50 would ensure that penalty ranges reflect this.
The current maximum penalty for animal cruelty, six months in prison or a $2,000 fine or both, would be increased accordingly for both kinds of crime. For intentional cruelty, which would be made a hybrid offence, the maximum penalty on indictment would be increased to five years and on summary conviction to eighteen months. For criminally negligent offences, the maximum sentence would be increased to two years.
Another change is the removal of the current two year cap on orders prohibiting a convicted offender from owning or living with animals. The length of a prohibition order would be in the discretion of the judge and he or she would make the final determination. The courts would also be given a clear power to order a convicted offender to repay to a person or to an organization, which most likely would be the animal welfare society, the costs associated with the caring for the animal the offender was convicted of abusing.
These penalty enhancements, coupled with the other set of reforms that bring greater simplicity, coherence and rationality to the laws, will work together to signal to judges, prosecutors, police and the general public that the abuse of animals is about violence and that cruelty is a matter of serious criminal law.
To be effective, good criminal law must not only provide adequate penalty ranges, it must also be clear, coherent, complete and must reflect the true nature of the misconduct and the societal values at stake. The full range of legal reforms is necessary to bring our 19th century criminal laws in this area into the 21st century.
Over the course of many years that animal cruelty amendments have been before Parliament, Canadians have consistently voiced their strong support for legislative change in this area and their expectation that the legislation will be passed without delay. I urge all members in the House to ensure that occurs as soon as possible.
Vic Toews Provencher, MB
Mr. Speaker, is the parliamentary secretary saying that the bill is exactly the same as the bill that was passed by the House previously?
Many agricultural, hunting and trapping groups are expressing a lot of concern about the idea that one examines whether the killing of an animal is judged criminal, whether or not death ensues immediately. I would think that death ensuing immediately would go to the determination of whether or not something is vicious and brutal.
In my reading of the act, it seems to suggest that the act of killing the animal can be vicious and brutal even though death ensues immediately. That does not make any sense to me. Even though something might appear to be vicious and brutal, if the act of killing an animal, let us say a cow or a hog, was immediate, how can it then be vicious and brutal? I would like to have that explained.
Paul MacKlin Northumberland—Quinte West, ON
Mr. Speaker, the member has asked a number of questions and I am not sure whether we will have enough time to properly address them.
However, first, with respect to the bill itself, the bill is not exactly the same as the previous bill. As I mentioned in my speech, it relates to the non-derogation clause for the recognition of aboriginal practices. That is an addition to the previously passed legislation.
However, in other respects the bill is a mirror image of the bill that has been passed here a number of times.
The question the hon. member raised is one that needs to be addressed as it relates to those who are in the industry. Clearly, we have had support through various letters brought to us about the industry's acceptance of what is going on. As he would well remember, some of the amendments that we brought forward previously made it clear that we are incorporating all of the common law defences that were there originally so that they are equally available today.
I believe the industry does have an understanding of this. The basic concern that industry was trying to express was whether it would have the protections that it has today. It is fair to say that it would have the same protections and that we have, shall we say, bolstered it, both from a section 8 perspective and the broader perspective, which I believe was section 429, although I could be in error on that, but around that section. However in both cases it does protect the issue as it relates to their practices.
We are all very conscious about wanting to, first, protect our animals, but we are equally conscious of ensuring that those who make their living from this are properly protected so that they will not suffer the risk of being prosecuted for simply carrying on in their normal trade practice the way in which is accepted for that trade or profession to carry out the killing of animals.
Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC
Mr. Speaker, first, I have a comment and then I want to ask a question.
It is very appropriate, in my opinion, to introduce a bill to prevent cruelty to animals. This bill is essential. We have been talking about this since I arrived in the House of Commons. We had Bills C-10 and C-22. Now, we have Bill C-50. I hope that this bill contains many improvements. I will make what may be an unfortunate parallel. It would have been nice to see legislation banning cruelty against human beings, particularly psychological harassment, in the same way that we are now considering legislation on cruelty to animals.
My question is as follows. It is not so much how animals are killed, which is important to animal rights groups, but rather the care they receive, whether they are en route to the slaughterhouse, force-fed, given water and food, cared for, from the day they are born to the day they are slaughtered. For those who have concerns about this, is there a section in the bill that mentions protection for animals in this very specific regard?
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)
The hon. parliamentary secretary only has seconds to reply. The Chair made a mistake in assuming there were 10 minutes for questions and comments, whereas there are only five minutes. Would the parliamentary secretary please make his answer brief.
Paul MacKlin Northumberland—Quinte West, ON
Mr. Speaker, let me simply say that this will cover a broad range of activities that would be considered to be negative in relation to animals. It goes into the issue of taking care of animals. When we are talking about care, that care can be in the most broad context that one could suggest.
Each and every one of us really has sympathy for our animal friends. We want to make sure that they are cared for. There have been some examples in the last few days of what are referred to as puppy mills. That sort of activity obviously causes a great deal of concern to everyone who is interested in animal welfare. This bill goes a long way toward making sure that we provide far better protection in a very clear and distinct manner so that our pets and animals will be well looked after.
November 14th, 2005 / 3:45 p.m.
Vic Toews Provencher, MB
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address Bill C-50, an act to amend the Criminal Code in respect of cruelty to animals.
It has been a great source of frustration for many Canadians that the government has been attempting to legislate changes to animal cruelty offences since 1999 without success. Several versions of this bill have wound their way through the House and Senate only to die on the order paper. The parliamentary secretary did go through those previous versions. There were concerns that the proposed amendments could have criminalized some common and lawful activities such as catch and release fishing, trapping, hunting, and even some farming practices.
We are not just talking about our friends the animals, which is how urban people might view animals, and we have lots of animal friends. I have a dog who is a friend. Animals are also used in the context of agriculture, and those animals are not necessarily our friends. We have to recognize that animals play a dual role in our society. I recall the 2% strychnine solution being argued here regarding our friends the gophers. Gophers destroy thousands of acres of land every year and kill or hurt other animals that fall into gopher holes. We have to remember that all animals are not our friends.
Throughout the debates on these bills, Conservative MPs and senators strongly expressed their desire to prevent abuse of animals, but sought legal protection for those who use animals for legitimate, lawful and justified practices. The Senate was ultimately successful in amending Bill C-10B to narrow the definition of animal and to ensure that current legal defences for legitimate practices would be maintained.
Bill C-10B was reprinted in the House of Commons as Bill C-22, and was supported by the Conservative Party in light of the Senate amendments. However, the bill died at committee in the Senate in May 2004 before the last general election.
As the parliamentary secretary has explained, this enactment would amend the Criminal Code by consolidating animal cruelty offences and increasing the maximum penalties.
One of the things we have to realize is that these changes to the Criminal Code will not make it easier to prosecute animal offences. It is very difficult to prosecute animal offences. We hear about all kinds of horrendous examples such as skinning a cat, or putting cats into microwaves, those kinds of things. The point is that these changes will not make it any easier to prosecute those types of offences. The injustice that is often done is a result of inadequate evidence to prosecute the offence.
I am not necessarily opposing these amendments. We have voted on them many times already. I am suggesting that when there is a conviction, meaningful sentences should be put in place. There have been philosophical debates about whether an animal is property or whether it is not quite a human being, as some animal rights activists would have us believe, but the point is that appropriate penalties need to be in place so that when these difficult cases are successfully prosecuted, meaningful sentences are imposed.
One of the concerns that many animal groups involved in agriculture, fishing and hunting have mentioned to me about the current bill is that it would make it illegal to brutally and viciously kill an animal regardless of whether or not the animal dies immediately. I have a lot of concerns about that particular provision because it really takes an urban person's point of view about the killing of an animal. Many urban people look at the practice of killing a particular animal as being brutal and vicious and therefore that practice should be stopped. The real point we need to consider is not simply whether it looks brutal or vicious, but whether the animal in fact dies immediately. We want to minimize the animal's pain. I think all of us are agreed on that.
I am concerned that what we are doing here is taking a key relevant factor in determining whether or not something is brutal or vicious and making it irrelevant. We need to take a look at that particular issue. That more than any other issue has raised concerns for the groups who depend on animals for their livelihood.
I have no concern about raising the penalties. If there is genuine cruelty to animals and a prosecution is successful, we need to prosecute those cases vigorously and impose appropriate penalties.
There is one thing I find remarkable about Liberals. I wish Liberals would speak as passionately about human victims as they sometimes do about animal victims. I am very concerned about human victims. This is perhaps an appropriate segue into that entire issue.
I raised in question period the issue that under Bill C-70 a judge will be able to impose house arrest on someone who rapes a woman. The minister said that there would be exceptional circumstances where that would happen. I asked him in question period today under what exceptional circumstances should people who rape women serve their time at home. I am concerned about that kind of thing.
I am concerned about brutality toward animals, but I am also very concerned about the brutality that we demonstrate to other human beings. When we catch those animals who commit crimes against their fellow human beings, we say we should leave the door open for exceptional circumstances so that the poor rapist can serve his time at home. I am concerned about that kind of thing and I dare say most Canadians are.
I am concerned about drug dealers who are peddling poisons that kill our children. I am concerned about that. Yet under the Liberals' Bill C-70, drug dealers who are repeat offenders can get house arrest. I wish Liberals would talk as passionately about keeping those kinds of animals behind bars, those who would do that kind of thing to our children and fellow citizens.
I have pointed out a very practical problem with this bill. I hope the parliamentary secretary looks at that particular issue. At the same time I would encourage the parliamentary secretary to ask the Minister of Justice what he is doing in Bill C-70 to allow vicious, brutal rapists and drug dealers who are destroying our youth and communities to get house arrest in exceptional circumstances. We were assured by past justice ministers, Allan Rock and others, that it would never happen that conditional sentences or house arrest would be used for violent offences.
I want to see some amendments to this bill. I think it is moving in the right direction. We have had this debate over and over. I remind the parliamentary secretary that he should show the same concern for human victims as he does for animal victims.
John Cannis Scarborough Centre, ON
Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to pick up on what the hon. member said earlier in terms of human victims and he is so right. I do not think there are any members in the House, no matter which side of the political spectrum they sit, who do not put first and foremost the value of human life and of course everything else.
I remember not too long ago in the greater city of Toronto we had problems with gangs. Chief Fantino at that time made a comment and I want to thank him again publicly. He said that had it not been for the anti-gang legislation that the Liberals brought in, he would have not been in a position to address this horrendous issue which he did admirably. Most recently, Chief Blair, the new chief of police, made a similar comment, that the laws are there, but the judiciary is not enforcing them.
If the hon. member wishes, I can show him the statements from the chiefs of police. Perhaps the judiciary today should look at them because officers have said to me repeatedly, “The laws are there. We apprehend these criminals. We bring them into the system. Then all of a sudden something happens. They get a slap on the hand. They get something wishy-washy and here we go again”.
Perhaps the time has come for us to look at the system beyond just making laws. We can make all the laws in the world, but unless they are implemented, unless they are enforced, nothing will happen.
Vic Toews Provencher, MB
Mr. Speaker, that has been exactly my point for the last five years. That is why I have been calling for mandatory minimum prison sentences.
I stood up today and said that even under the Liberal bill dealing with serious sexual assaults, rapists can get house arrest. How can that be? We need to send the message to the judiciary that those types of sentences are not acceptable. The way Parliament properly does that is through the establishment of these mandatory minimum sentences.
The Minister of Justice has just recently flipped on his stand on mandatory minimum sentences. As late as August and September he was telling the House that there is no beneficial effect for mandatory minimum prison sentences. This weekend he came around, but he only goes half way. He will not do it for drug dealers. He will not say that those who are peddling this poison to our kids deserve to go to jail.
What needs to be understood about the rising gun violence in the streets of Toronto is that it is all drug related. This is a struggle for the drug trade and guns are used in order to increase a gang's market share.
If we are just going to deal with guns, that is a good start, but we need to deal with drugs. Those who are peddling the coke, the meth and the heroin deserve to go to jail. That is what Canadians are saying. Then we will see an end to this gun violence on the streets of Toronto and elsewhere.
Borys Wrzesnewskyj Etobicoke Centre, ON
Mr. Speaker, we have just seen across the aisle another demonstration of the party of division, the party of firewalls. The member for Provencher is now trying to create an urban-rural divide in our country. Unfortunately, I am not quite sure that his rural caucus members will appreciate the way he has referred to our rural communities. He said that the urban dwellers see animals as our friends.
I would like to inform the member that family members of mine are farmers. They have a tremendous respect for their animals and in fact, see their animals, including livestock, as their friends. He said that urban dwellers have a different perception of what would be cruel and vicious when we treat animals. I think our farmers and rural communities, and people dependent on livestock are probably among the more humane individuals when it comes to appreciating the value of our animal friends.
Could the member explain how he thinks, from what he previously said, that the rural community members or farmers do not have the same appreciation of our animals and of what cruel and vicious entails?
Vic Toews Provencher, MB
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is taking my comments completely out of context. What I said is that even I, as a rural MP, have an animal as a friend, my dog.
I was born and raised in a city environment. We have to understand that practices in rural communities that were strange and new to me may well seem different. The point I was making is that it should not be the perception of what is cruel and vicious, but in fact the reality.
Why would we exclude the most relevant consideration, which is whether or not death ensues immediately? Most of the judges in Canada, as are the people, are urban. If we were to tell a judge to look at a particular practice and he cannot consider whether death ensues immediately or not, on what basis would the judge make the determination? He makes it on a subjective perception determination, and that is wrong. We have to include objective factors in that determination. That is what I am saying. Why would we exclude that objective consideration in the issue of whether or not something is vicious or cruel?
Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Mirabel, QC
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to Bill C-50, an act to amend the Criminal Code in respect of cruelty to animals, and convey the Bloc Québécois' position in this respect.
Allow me to read the summary. It states:
This enactment would amend the Criminal Code by consolidating animal cruelty offences and increasing the maximum penalties.
So, the intention is to create a separate section in the Criminal Code for cruelty to animals and to increase the penalties for criminal offences committed by those found guilty of cruelty to animals.
We have heard two kinds of arguments from the Liberals and the Conservatives. That is why we are in favour of the bill being referred to committee. Efforts have to be made to ensure that there is a proper balance between protecting animals and protecting legitimate activities. In fact, that is what the Bloc Québécois has always sought in this House: to ensure that, while protecting animals, we remain able to assure the animal, farm, medical, sports and other industries that they can pursue their activities without being under constant threat of prosecution. Naturally, this is not easy, and it is much more complicated.
There have been examples such as the recent one in Quebec, where about a hundred dogs were seized. They had been so badly looked after that over half of them had to be put down. It is necessary to make it a criminal offence to raise dogs for personal use and not to respect their needs.
There are good animal breeders of course, but those involved in this industry, as well as farmers and those using animals in the medical field, or for sport such as hunting and other activities, need to feel at ease.
Here is some background information. This is the sixth time this bill has come up. It has been numbered C-17, C-15B, C-10, C-10B, C-22 and C-50. I must point out that the Senate has blocked it every time. This raises a lot of questions.
I will simply read out part of the bill, so that we can raise the questions together. The first clause is an addition to section 182 of the Criminal Code. It will therefore become 182.2(1). It reads:
Every one commits an offence who, wilfully or recklessly... (c) kills an animal without lawful excuse.
This refers to the commission of a criminal offence. The other sub-clauses are far clearer:
(b) kills an animal brutally or viciously—
(d) without lawful excuse, poisons an animal, places poison—
It is never easy to use examples such as poisoning an animal. The dictionary definition of animal is a simple one, “animal means a vertebrate, other than a human being”. We then have the following definition of vertebrate: “animal sub-phylum consisting of all organisms possessing a vertebral column made up of bony or cartilaginous vertebrae. The vertebrates are made up of the following five categories: fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.” So both a rat and an ox fall within this definition.
Two weeks ago, we debated a bill on strychnine. It involved examining its use by farmers to rid themselves of rodents on a large scale. Rodents are obviously vertebrates.
Finally, in reading the definition providing that every one commits an offence who, without lawful excuse, kills an animal or poisons an animal, we might ask what the lawful excuse is. In this respect, we must refer to sections 444 and 445 of the Criminal Code, which set out a means of defence, that is, the lawful excuse. Subsection 429(2) provides that: “No person shall be convicted of an offence under sections 430 to 446 where he proves that he acted with legal justification or excuse and with colour of right”.
That assumes then that a lawful excuse is possible as a defence. It also means that a person has been charged. A person draws on the part of the Criminal Code that provides a lawful excuse because that person has been charged. The way the bill was written, it provides for lawful excuses. However, it is not very clear in the case of certain industries. We can understand then their concern about being accused voluntarily or involuntarily or frivolously and having to defend themselves.
The problem when a charge is laid is the wait until a trial is held for acquittal on the grounds of there being a lawful excuse. The trial has to be held. Problems of public perception can arise when a charge has been laid. This is sort of what the Bloc Québécois wants to do.
We support a bill preventing cruelty to animals. Never again must anything like what happened in Quebec on the weekend recur. Over 100 animals were in such terrible condition that over half of them had to be euthanized, because their master, or owner, who deserves no such recognition, was cruel to them. There must be the right to charge such a person and punish them, in the end. The problem is that it is hard to strike a balance.
That is why the Bloc Québécois is in favour of making a decision today and sending this bill back to committee. We will then have a chance to hear, we hope, as many witnesses as possible from sports associations, farming groups, the medical industry, the animal breeding industry and so on. These people could explain to us their experience of the situation.
I am sure these people do not want any cruelty toward animals either. Nonetheless, they want to be able to operate in accordance with the law and without a constant threat over their head every time an animal has to be slaughtered during their operations and for a possible suit to be filed against them. They would then be charged and their names would be in the media and in the papers. They would get only one chance to use the lawful excuse defence.
The Bloc Québécois wants to protect this balance between legitimate activities and criminal activities involving cruelty to animals. Rest assured, the Bloc Québécois will fully support this.
Not everything in this bill needs to be redefined. I will read subclause 182.2(1)( e ):
Every one commits an offence who, wilfully or recklessly—
in any manner encourages, promotes, arranges, assists at or receives money for the fighting or baiting of animals, including training an animal to fight another animal—
Of course we can all agree on this. Such discussions were held in committee. Some provisions of this bill are quite interesting. Subclause 182.2(1)( f ) reads as follows:
—makes, maintains, keeps or allows to be made, maintained or kept a cockpit or any other arena for the fighting of animals on premises that he or she owns or occupies—
Subclause 182.2(1)( g ):
—promotes, arranges, conducts, assists in, receives money for or takes part in any meeting, competition, exhibition, pastime, practice, display or event at or in the course of which captive animals are liberated by hand, trap, contrivance or any other means for the purpose of being shot at the moment they are liberated—
I see that I have only one minute left.
It is clear that this concerns the offences set out in ( h ), which states: “being the owner, occupier or person in charge of any premises, permits the premises or any part of the premises to be used in the course of an activity referred to in paragraph ( e ) or ( g )”, referring to animal fights and other things.
The Bloc Québécois does not question the entire bill, but rather it is a question of striking the right balance between legitimate breeding, hunting and scientific and medical research activities, meaning the animal, farming, medical and sports industries. All we want is for the workers in this industry not to feel constantly in danger of being accused of cruelty toward animals when they operate their business in accordance with legitimate and legal practices. That is the balance we are seeking. The men and women we represent can rely on the Bloc Québécois to defend the interests of animals and ensure that people guilty of cruelty to pets will get what they deserve, meaning jail time. We agree with the increased sentences proposed in the bill. All we want is a fair balance between legitimate activities and cruelty to animals.