An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms Act

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.


Anne McLellan  Liberal


Not active, as of June 13, 2002
(This bill did not become law.)


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law)Government Orders

June 11th, 2015 / 4:05 p.m.
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Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, it was a government bill at the time. I fought that bill all the way along with the entire animal-use community in this country. Thankfully, in 2006, there was a change of government and Bill C-15B died on the order paper.

What Bill C-15B would have done was open up traditional animal uses to legislative interference by third-party groups, and that is why Bill S-203 was resoundingly passed in the House, primarily by Conservatives, and has the characteristic of criminalizing and penalizing egregious animal cruelty, something we all support. Egregious, deliberate animal cruelty must be condemned and criminalized, but at the same time, Canada's traditional, historic animal-use practices must be defended and, equally important, our medical research community, which depends so much on animal-based research, must be protected from harm so it can continue to do its important work for all of us.

That is why the Conservative hunting and angling caucus, of which I am chair, is making sure that the entire sustainable animal-use community in this country will know exactly where all the parties stand in terms of the use of animals.

I would like to express my complete support for Bill C-35, the justice for animals in service act, which I believe would contribute in a meaningful way to achieving our government's goal of making Canadian communities safer. This proposed reform supports the October 16, 2013, Speech from the Throne commitment to bring forward Quanto's law, to recognize that animals used in law enforcement are put at risk while assisting police in enforcing the law and protecting society. I was extremely pleased that the scope of the proposed legislation was expanded to also apply to other service animals, which also play an important role in making it possible for persons with disabilities to lead independent lives.

I am also very pleased to note that the bill proposes to enhance the punishment of persons who commit an assault on a police officer or certain other law enforcement officers. It would do so by requiring that a sentence imposed for any type of assault on a law enforcement officer, whether a common assault, an assault causing bodily harm, an assault with a weapon, or an aggravated assault, would be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed on the offender arising out of the same event.

I would now like to walk through Bill C-35 and compare it with the existing general offence of cruelty animals in section 445 of the Criminal Code. The proposed section 445.01 would create a new hybrid Criminal Code offence that is distinct from the general offence of cruelty to animals in section 445 of the Criminal Code. The classifications of animals that this would apply to are:

...a law enforcement animal while it is aiding a law enforcement officer in carrying out that officer’s duties, a military animal while it is aiding a member of the Canadian Forces in carrying out that member’s duties or a service animal.

This legislation clearly defines the prohibited conduct captured by the new offence. It would be an offence under the proposed legislation to kill, maim, wound, poison, or injure one of those animals. The legislation clearly defines the necessary mental element that must exist at the time of the commission of the offence. An offender convicted of the proposed offence would be subject to a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment when the offence is prosecuted on indictment and 18 months imprisonment and/or a $10,000 fine when the offence is prosecuted on summary conviction. These are the same maximum penalties as in section 445 of the Criminal Code.

I ask all members to reflect on the importance of law enforcement animals and our ability as legislators to improve the protection afforded these working animals that contribute so much to making our communities safer for all of us.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law)Government Orders

June 11th, 2015 / 3:55 p.m.
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Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the comments from the member for St. Catharines.

I support this proposed legislation, and it would have been a good thing had all parties in the House stuck to discussing the legislation. However, the NDP with typical overreach, went overboard last October and again today and extended the discussion to a discussion about animal rights.

We strongly support the notion of animal welfare, but the concept of animal rights, which NDP members strongly implied they wanted to implement, has done so much damage to Canada and Canadian communities that I can barely describe it. We can look at what has happened to coastal Inuit communities because of the animal rights movements against the seal hunt, the effect on the fur trade, and just as important, the effect on medical research.

It is a fallacy that Canada does not have strong animal cruelty legislation. In 2008, Bill S-203 was introduced with the full support of the animal-use community. The bill passed with a vote of 189 to 71, with the support of all Conservatives and some Liberal MPs. I suspect the NDP voted against it.

Bill S-203 substantially increased the fines and penalties for animal cruelty under the Criminal Code from six months imprisonment and/or a $2,000 fine, to five years imprisonment and/or a $10,000 fine and the prohibition of animal ownership.

Bill S-203 made a distinction between penalties for two categories of offences. One was for injuring animals intentionally or recklessly, and the second was for injuring animals by neglect. Most important, Bill S-203 did not contain language that would impede or prevent the type of traditional and accepted activities conducted by the sustainable animal-use community.

However, here we have an NDP member of Parliament, the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, bringing in Bill C-592, an act to amend the Criminal Code on cruelty to animals. According to the sustainable-use community, which in this particular case is composed of hunting, trapping, and angling groups as well as medical research groups, this particular bill is the latest in a long line of legislative attempts to amend sections of the Criminal Code pertaining to animal cruelty.

There have been, between 1999 and 2014, some 18 bills introduced into Parliament. All of the bills but one, Bill S-203, have been voted on thus far and defeated for very important reasons. Each one of these bills contained wording that has been strongly opposed by a broad cross section of communities, including aboriginal communities, the outdoor community, agricultural producers, medical researchers, major colleges and universities, fairs and exhibitions, and even some religious groups.

This particular bill from the NDP MP for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine seeks to reintroduce the same wording that has caused all of the previous bills to be defeated. If passed, this particular bill could unintentionally criminalize all sorts of accepted, necessary, and traditional practices, the practices I talked about, which include food production, hunting, fishing, and most important, medical research.

The medical research community is highly sensitized to the wrong kind of animal rights legislation, like the NDP wants to introduce and talks about. Therefore, I would like to make the point most emphatically that there are a lot of people in this country who do not hunt, fish, or trap, but every one of us is affected by medical research, and medical research on animals is what has kept many of us alive. Again, a badly worded animal welfare, or animal cruelty, or animal rights piece of legislation would open the door to the criminalization of those kinds of activities.

When Bill C-35 was first debated back in October 2014, the New Democratic MP for Nanaimo—Cowichan said that she supports legislation in which “...animals would be considered people and not just property.”

The MP for Gatineau, on the same day, said that animals should be treated with “...the same protection that we afford to children and people with mental or physical disabilities”.

The implications of those statements are absolutely staggering, and this points out where the NDP members are actually coming from.

They support the kind of legislation that would criminalize many traditional, accepted animal uses in this country and, at the same time, would have a very serious effect on animal-based medical research. It is truly unfortunate that they are using this particular bill to expand their agenda, but now their agenda is in front of all Canadians, for Canadians to see and evaluate.

I would make the point that there are about four million people in this country who hunt and fish. I am chair of the Conservative hunting and angling caucus, and we are going to make sure that each and every one of them knows where the NDP is coming from.

I am not going to let the Liberals off either. Back in the late 1990s or early 2000s, the Liberals introduced Bill C-15B. I was working for a hunting organization at the time and had the honour to completely dissect Bill C-15B. That particular bill, similar to the bill by Mark Holland that was talked about earlier, which the member for Charlottetown said he was very sympathetic to—

March 31st, 2015 / 10:30 a.m.
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Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Well, it's interesting; in my own research on this particular bill, because it deals with the issue...and the NDP have a couple more bills in place, plus the Liberals have two along these lines. Of course the Liberals had Bill C-15B back in the early 2000s.

The one thing that all these bills have in common is that they deal with the issue of animals feeling pain. Obviously mammals can feel pain, but when one goes down to invertebrates—this particular bill deals with invertebrates—if one does any research on whether a lobster feels pain, or a fish that's on the end of a hook feels pain, the jury, quite frankly, is still out on much of that.

Again, if a judge interprets this bill...and thankfully it will never pass, I'm sure. It could really put in legal jeopardy all of these activities that we cherish.

Could you expand, Mr. Scarth, on what you discussed in terms of unintended consequences of such bills as Bill C-592 and the long-gun registry in particular in terms of its effect on hunters and trappers and their very important conservation activities?

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

April 4th, 2008 / 1:50 p.m.
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Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, true to its reputation, the Bloc Québécois carefully read Bill S-203 when it was before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. It listened with interest to the various witnesses and is well aware of the limitations of Bill S-203.

We are aware of the importance of properly protecting animals from cruelty, so we proposed a series of amendments to improve Bill S-203. Among our proposals was the idea of introducing a clear definition of what an animal is. We also sought to protect stray as well as domestic animals. We also wanted to clarify the criterion for negligence, thereby making it easier to prove. Finally, we also proposed an amendment to formally ban training cocks to fight. Unfortunately all the Bloc's proposed amendments were rejected and the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights agreed on February 14, 2008, to report the bill without amendments.

That is not stopping the Bloc Québécois from supporting Bill S-203 in that it is, in fact, a small but real step in the right direction and does not prevent the possible study and adoption of a more complete bill in line with Bill C-50.

The Bloc Québécois does oppose the amendments proposed at report stage by the NDP. These amendments seek nothing less than to kill the bill. Their first amendment would remove the title and their second amendment would remove the rest. The NDP's logic in all this is especially twisted. Instead of voting in favour of an improvement to the legislation, even though we know a lot remains to be done—it is true—the NDP prefers the status quo that it nonetheless vehemently criticizes. Where is the logic in that?

If the NDP truly had animal protection at heart, it would act differently. It would follow the Bloc Québécois' example and act responsibly. Although the Bloc Québécois is aware of the limitations of Bill S-203, it finds that this bill is a small but real step in the right direction, and does not hinder the possible study and adoption of another bill I will speak about shortly. The Bloc Québécois is making no secret of this. It is in favour of a real reform of the animal cruelty provisions and will seriously study this matter again, unlike our colleagues, apparently.

Introduced by the Senate, Bill S-203 is the result of a long legislative process. Indeed, in recent years, six bills were introduced by the Liberal government of the day, specifically, Bill C-10, Bill C-10B, Bill C-15B, Bill C-17, Bill C-22 and Bill C-50. To those we can add those proposed by the Senate, namely, Bill S-24 and Bill S-213, the two predecessors of Bill S-203.

All those bills sought to modify the offences set out in the part of the Criminal Code that deals with cruelty to animals. Some of the bills went even further, however, and proposed real reforms to this bill. The Bloc was particularly in favour of the principle of Bill C-50, which would have created a new section in the Criminal Code to address cruelty to animals, removing this topic from the sections of the code that deal with property.

However, since that reform raised a number of problems, Bill S-24 was introduced in the meantime, to allow much more modest changes. Bill S-203 is a copy of Bill S-213, which was itself a copy of Bill S-24—I hope people are able to follow me.

The Bloc Québécois is in favour of Bill S-203, even though we are aware that it does not go far enough. But it is better than nothing. Such a bill will send a message to anyone who mistreats animals. Protecting animals against certain despicable actions will always remain a concern of the Bloc Québécois. The current maximum sentences under the Criminal Code are too lenient for the seriousness of the acts committed.

The bill does not jeopardize legitimate activities involving animal death, such as agriculture, hunting and fishing. This bill, however, is less comprehensive and therefore does not replace Bill C-373, which is a revival of Bill C-50. However, we are not here to discuss that bill today.

The bill amends the Criminal Code to increase the maximum sentences in cases of cruelty to animals. For prosecution by indictment, the maximum sentence is five years. For summary convictions, sentences can range from six to 18 months, along with a possible $10,000 fine.

In the past, judges could prohibit those found guilty from owning or residing with animals for up to two years. Now that ban can be for life. The judge can now require the offender to reimburse costs arising from his or her actions.

Obviously, the bill does not solve all of the existing problems. As I said earlier, this is a baby step, but these new penalties will provide better protection for animals until such time as animal cruelty provisions can be reformed significantly.

By increasing the penalties, we are sending a message to criminals as well as to the judges who have to take this into account in sentencing. The seriousness of a crime is determined in part by the maximum penalty that can be imposed on an offender.

We are also hoping that by making the ban on owning animals indefinite, we will be able to prevent some animal abuse from taking place.

The bill we are considering this afternoon has three major advantages. First, it corrects an anachronism. When the Criminal Code was first drafted back in the 19th century, society did not regard animals the way it does now. The relationships between people and animals have changed, so it makes sense for the Criminal Code to reflect that. Everyone agrees that the current penalties are not severe enough. Bill S-203 goes a little way toward correcting the old-fashioned, weak penalties. The old penalties were based on how people interacted with animals in the 19th century.

The second good thing about this bill is the fact that, as penalties become more severe, there is a good chance that the courts will become stricter with those who are found guilty of crimes against animals, such as mutilation, slaughter, neglect, abandonment, or failure to feed them.

This bill would change the minimum sentence. From now on, if a case is tried as an indictable offence, the minimum sentence will be five years in jail. The fine will go up to $10,000. As it happens, both of these provisions are in the member for Ajax—Pickering's bill, Bill C-373.

There is another excellent change. Henceforth, a court may ban an animal owner for life—or I should say a former owner—from having an animal in his possession. Bill S-203 will now allow a court to impose a prohibition order for life on this owner, whereas the current legislation provides for a two-year prohibition.

The third and last advantage of this bill is that it provides for restitution mechanisms through which the courts can order an individual to pay the costs if an animal has been taken in by an animal welfare organization, for example. Individuals who committed offences of negligence or intentional cruelty could be forced to pay the organizations that have taken in mistreated animals.

These three benefits alone represent a considerable improvement and warrant our support of this bill.

A number of our constituents have written to us comparing this Senate bill and the bill introduced by the member for Ajax—Pickering to be debated later. The Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of a step in the right direction rather than sticking with the status quo denounced by all. In other words, it is better than nothing.

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodePrivate Members' Business

March 10th, 2008 / 11:50 a.m.
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Bryon Wilfert Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to make some comments with regard to this bill. There is no question that the animal cruelty legislation needs to be updated. We certainly tried in the past to do this with different pieces of legislation, but unfortunately, the Conservatives opposed those updates. There is no question that Canadians want more effective animal cruelty legislation. The legislation has not been updated since 1892.

The question becomes the value of this particular private member's legislation. This legislation does not go far enough in addressing some of the concerns that members of Parliament hear from Canadians. It will not make it easier to convict perpetrators of such crimes. One of the things we continually hear about is the need to be tougher on the perpetrators. We have heard some horrific stories. Some have been mentioned in this debate and in previous debates. Tougher penalties are needed.

We need to remember when punishing people that they are not being punished for mistreating a piece of furniture, but for mistreating a live animal. The penalty has to reflect that mistreatment. We have to make it easier to deal with people who neglect animals.

On the weekend, we heard of a very tragic case in Alberta with regard to the neglect of horses. Unfortunately, many of them had died and others were very badly malnourished. When people see those things they ask why are we not bringing in tougher animal cruelty legislation.

We need greater protection for wild animals and domestic animals as well. We need to be clearer. Unfortunately, this bill does not go far enough. My colleague from Ajax—Pickering has a private member's bill. It replicates much of the legislation that had been in this House in past Parliaments, such as Bill C-15. My colleague's bill reflects much more of the mainstream concerns of Canadians.

I would also point out that this legislation does not address the situation where animals are trained to fight one another. It does not make that a crime. We have seen in the media some specific examples of that situation, such as cockfighting in Vancouver and the case of Mr. Vick in the United States regarding fighting of animals. Those are the kinds of things that need to be addressed.

If we are going to update legislation which has not been updated in over 100 years, we need to be effective in terms of these issues. We need to address those issues effectively for Canadians. When members get calls on this people are asking why we have taken so long. A lot of it has to do with the fact that we have confused protection of animals with hunting and other issues which some members on the other side have argued we have to be a little more vague on.

In fact, Canadians want to be very specific in terms of addressing the issues. Not only is greater protection needed, but greater clarity in the language is needed as well. Currently the language is very vague, which means that unfortunately, there have not been the kind of convictions that are needed. The courts have said that they can only work with the laws they have before them. They want to see tougher legislation. Canadians want to see tougher legislation.

As parliamentarians, we clearly have an obligation to deal with this type of legislation, and I hope that we do not use a piecemeal approach. The legislation of my colleague from Ajax—Pickering deals with some of the specifics I and others have mentioned in this debate.

We need to look at a couple of other factors. We need to deal effectively with individuals who neglect animals, not just those who do those horrific things we have heard about in terms of microwaves and so on, which acts are intolerable. We need to deal with those who neglect animals, those who have an animal and are not able to care for it. We must ensure that when people are convicted of a crime, they are not allowed to own animals in the future because of their wanton recklessness in terms of their treatment of animals.

The bill only deals with the status quo. It does not move it along to the degree to which we need. After 100 and some years, one would think, given all the examples and issues that exist, that it would have been much more effective. It is too bad the government had not proposed legislation on this. It is too bad we have to have it through a private member's legislation, as good as that may be, particularly by my colleague on this side of the House. However, the reality is attempts to move this forward by previous governments were stalled, either here or elsewhere. That is reprehensible. We need to have legislation that protects the public good.

We have waited a long time for this. The power to introduce this type of legislation has to be comprehensive. It has to deal with all aspects of the debate. I am hopeful the legislation will move forward.

The question I would have is this. Why has the government failed to take a proactive stance on this? In the past, government legislation was moved forward at different reading stages. It is too bad we did not see a proactive approach from the current government on this. It speaks to the very nature of the government in not caring about animal welfare in particular. It is unfortunate. Had it been proactive, we would not have had to go through other vehicles, including private members' legislation.

I am hopeful the legislation will move forward. Again, however, the bill before us today does not address some of the fundamental issues, unlike what my friend from Ajax—Pickering has suggested. I look forward to that legislation when it is brought before the House.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

February 26th, 2007 / 11:30 a.m.
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Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I, too, want to congratulate the member for Miramichi on sponsoring the bill introduced by the hon. senator, who was a member of this House and a colleague of mine when I was elected in 1993.

Everyone knows that the debate on cruelty to animals goes back a long way. Six other bills have been introduced in six years: Bills C-10, C-10B, C-15B, C-17, C-22 and, lastly, C-50, the most recent bill, which was introduced during the last Parliament.

Six bills have been brought before Parliament. The bill we are discussing this morning is the seventh. What is more, the member for Ajax—Pickering has introduced an eighth bill. All this has us thinking about the type of legislation we want.

One thing is certain: the status quo is not an option. It is unbelievable that, with one exception, the Criminal Code provisions on cruelty to animals have not been reviewed since 1892.

The situation can be summarized as follows: the punishment for people found guilty of wounding, neglecting, abusing, maiming or killing animals cannot exceed six months in prison or a $2,000 fine, except in cases where cattle are wilfully killed.

Certainly, the bill we are discussing this morning has merits. But it can be improved. I want to be very clear, for those who are watching. The Bloc Québécois will support the Senate bill, Bill S-213. And we also hope that this House will support Bill C-373, introduced by the member for Ajax—Pickering.

The bill before us this morning has three main points in its favour. First, it corrects the outdated sanctions, which are far too mild. These sanctions pertain to people's relationship with animals in the 19th century, when the Criminal Code was conceived.

This bill will make courts more likely to impose stricter sentences on those who commit offences against animals, that is, those who are convicted of misconduct against animals, such as mutilation, killing, negligence, abandonment or refusing to feed animals.

The minimum sentence, when prosecuted by indictment, will be five years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. The Bloc is pleased with that provision of the bill. That provision can also be found in Bill C-373, introduced by the hon. member for Ajax—Pickering.

This bill also corrects the existing anomaly that a court—through a prohibition order, which courts may impose —can prohibit the owner of an animal from having an animal in his or her possession for a maximum of two years. The bill before us today gives the courts the power to impose such a prohibition order for the owner's entire lifetime.

The third benefit of this bill is that it allows for restitution mechanisms through which the courts can order an individual to pay the costs if an animal has been taken in by an animal welfare organization, for example. A court could therefore order restitution and individuals who committed offences of negligence or intentional cruelty could be forced to pay the organizations that have taken in mistreated animals.

These three benefits alone represent a considerable improvement to the state of the law and warrant our support of this bill.

A number of our constituents have written to us comparing Bill S-213 from the Senate and the bill introduced by the hon. member for Ajax—Pickering that I hope will be debated later. If memory serves me correctly, the hon. member for Ajax—Pickering is 124th or 126th on the list. The political situation being what it is, Parliament may dissolve. We hope not, even though the Bloc Québécois is confident about the future.

In the event that Parliament dissolves before the bill by the hon. member for Ajax—Pickering is debated, we propose that this House fall back on the bill from the Senate. In any event, the short-term gain would be the possibility of increasing maximum penalties for those found guilty of mistreating animals.

I want to be very clear. The Bloc Québécois supports this bill. We would also want Bill C-373 to be passed, and for our constituents to know that these bills are not incompatible or mutually exclusive. The following three provisions are not incompatible with Bill C-373: increasing the penalties for animal cruelty offences; extending orders of prohibition on owning an animal; and implementing restitution mechanisms for individuals to compensate animal protection organizations. That is why the Bloc Québécois will support both bills.

Before explaining why this House should vote in favour of Bill C-373, I want to say that I know that my caucus colleagues and other parliamentarians in this House have always been concerned, when we have debated previous bills on protecting animals and on cruelty toward animals, about ensuring the ancestral rights of the first nations under section 35 of the Constitution, so as not to compromise legitimate hunting and fishing activities, and about legitimate research activities that may involve doing research on animals.

No one wants this House to adopt measures that would end up penalizing hunters and fishers. Senate Bill S-213 provides guarantees in this regard that may not be as attractive as those found in Bill C-373. Clause 3 of Bill C-373 sponsored by our colleague for Ajax—Pickering clearly states that, if the bill is adopted:

3. Subsection 429(2) of the Act is replaced by the following:

(2) No person shall be convicted of an offence under sections 430 to 443 where he proves that he acted with legal justification or excuse and with colour of right.

This means that a hunter or fisher cannot be prosecuted for such activity if it is deemed an aboriginal right or if he or she has a hunting or fishing licence, and this activity is recognized by the legislator. I say this because I am convinced that several parliamentarians in this House have heard representations on the balance that must be maintained between our desire to protect animals against cruelty and the right of hunters, fishers and aboriginal peoples to carry out activities that are recognized in law.

The bill introduced by the member for Ajax—Pickering clearly sets out this guarantee. In conclusion, we hope to amend the Criminal Code insofar as these provisions are concerned. We recognize the three major benefits of this bill and we hope that the House will also adopt Bill C-373. These two bills are a winning combination.