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.