An Act to amend the Criminal Code in respect of cruelty to animals

This bill was last introduced in the 38th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in November 2005.

Sponsor

Irwin Cotler  Liberal

Status

Not active, as of May 16, 2005
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment would amend the Criminal Code by consolidating animal cruelty offences and increasing the maximum penalties.

Elsewhere

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.

February 5th, 2008 / 5:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

What I think I'm hearing is that the animal welfare groups made compromises with respect to getting to Bill C-50—as did many of the animal user groups, by the way; I'm not just talking about one side. Both sides made compromises to get to a middle point.

What we're seeing with Bill S-203 is that it's the bill where there's no compromise; it's the bill that is only addressing concerns on the animal-use side. None of the issues I'm hearing are really being substantively dealt with on the animal welfare side.

This brings me to my last question. This would be to you, Kim. You talked about how Canada sized up relative to the rest of the world. What you didn't get a chance to say is—and it's embarrassing, frankly—that we're behind nations such as the Philippines. That's something we should really hang our heads about, I think, personally.

How would Bill S-203, after it was passed—I hope it doesn't happen, but let's just presume and say it did get passed.... How would Canada stack up against the rest of the world?

February 5th, 2008 / 4:35 p.m.
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NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Last week, again, the coalition, in spite of some of their other opposition to Bill C-50, indicated a willingness to have that section in Bill C-50 about animals being killed brutally put in as an amendment to this bill. Would your association take the same position?

February 5th, 2008 / 4:30 p.m.
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NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

All right.

Mr. Farrant, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters had a request, when Bill C-50 was working its way through the House, that they be exempted from the legislation. Is that correct?

February 5th, 2008 / 4:30 p.m.
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NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

I don't want to put words in your mouth, but if I'm hearing you correctly, you would lay charges in six to seven times more cases if the code were brought in line with what was C-50 and is now Bill C-373, the private member's bill.

January 31st, 2008 / 5:35 p.m.
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Executive Director, Ontario Farm Animal Council, National Coalition of Animal-based Sectors

Leslie Ballentine

Those are the two major ones. We would have liked nothing better than to come before a committee collectively with those who support Mr. Holland's bill, or Bill C-50, or whatever you would like to call it. We tried to accommodate that, because it makes it much easier for you as legislators.

January 31st, 2008 / 5:35 p.m.
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Executive Director, Ontario Farm Animal Council, National Coalition of Animal-based Sectors

Leslie Ballentine

No, we agreed to Bill C-50.

Criminal Code

April 25th, 2007 / 6:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to rise to speak on this bill. When I first came to Parliament nearly three years ago, animal cruelty was an issue that was indeed top of mind for me, something I was very concerned about. That concern was driven by what I had seen as a municipal councillor with both the city of Pickering and the Region of Durham, where again and again animal abuses were not prosecuted, where we saw that the laws that existed in Canada were completely ineffective and did nothing to deter animal abuse.

Of course when I came here to Ottawa and learned that it had been 1892 since last our legislation with respect to animal cruelty was changed, I wanted to embark on trying to modernize it, on trying to work with Parliament to get to a point where we could get those who are involved in the animal use industry and those supporting animal welfare to meet in the middle, to find a compromise and to find effective legislation.

Before we even got to that point, Parliament had already dealt with Bill C-17, Bill C-15, Bill C-15B and Bill C-10, then getting to Bill C-50 in the last term of Parliament. So for nearly 10 years Parliament had been wrestling with this issue.

The problem with the existing law rests in a number of different places.

One is that it treats animals as property, essentially affording as much protection to an animal as would be given to a chair in our house. For most Canadians that is not acceptable. It is a Victorian notion we have grown out of. It also did nothing to protect stray or wild animals that could be viciously killed for any reason. It gave no protection against brutally or viciously killing even domesticated animals. It did nothing to stop training animals to fight one another or receiving money from those fights.

It was clear that we needed to take action. Bill C-50 at that point came forward. It was an opportunity to bring the different groups together to look at why legislation had failed in the past. In fact, by the fall of 2004, shortly after that June election, as many as 30 animal industry groups came together representing a broad range from agriculture to fur and to animal research. They sent a letter to the then justice minister urging a quick passage of the reintroduced government bill.

That was Bill C-50. It represented compromise. It represented an acknowledgement that in the animal use industry there were legitimate uses that should be permitted, whether or not for agriculture or whether or not in hunting, but on the other side it recognized that we have a lot of work to do to better protect animals and to provide animal welfare.

Unfortunately, we did not get the opportunity, because of the brevity of the last Parliament, to pass Bill C-50. It had broad support, not only from industry groups and animal welfare groups but from this Parliament. I expect it would have passed, but we ran out of time.

In this Parliament I have put forward a private member's bill, Bill C-373, and we also have a bill that moved more quickly through the Senate, Bill S-213, which is before us right now and which we are talking about this evening.

Let us talk for a moment about Bill S-213 and the deep concerns I have with this legislation. First of all, the main thing the bill does, and in fact really the only thing it does, is deal with sentencing. This is a huge problem, because sentencing represents only a very small fraction of the real problem.

In fact, when we look at it, we see that less than one-quarter of one per cent of animal abuse complaints lead to a successful conviction. That is what this bill deals with: one-quarter of one per cent. If we hold Bill S-213 out as some kind of solution for animal cruelty, we are being dishonest. The only thing it deals with is that enormously small percentage of successful convictions. If we are serious about animal cruelty, certainly we must do more.

We also know that Bill S-213 will not make it easier to convict perpetrators of crimes toward animals. It will not make it easier to punish the people who commit crimes against animals or neglect animals. It will not offer protection against torture for stray or wild animals. It will not make it a crime to train animals to fight one another. In short, Bill S-213 just does not get it done.

If it were just a placebo, if we could just pass it and move on and hopefully get to my bill or some other version of what Bill C-50 was in order to pass effective animal cruelty legislation, then that would be one thing. My fear is that it will do more than that. My fear is that if we pass this placebo bill that does nothing, that addresses only one-quarter of one per cent of the problem we are dealing with in regard to animal cruelty, it will be held out as if we have done something.

I have listened to many speakers talk about animal cruelty. They talk about what happened in Didsbury. They talk about the terrible abuses that occur in our country today and go unpunished and they hold this out as some kind of solution. It is not.

If we do that, if we turn to Canadians and say that we have a solution for animal cruelty and it is Bill S-213, we are misleading them. Worse yet, it may destroy the ability to actually bring forward effective legislation. So if this does not do anything, why move forward?

I would like to talk for a second about some of the things my Bill C-373 should be able to do, or I would encourage the government to bring in a bill in the same vein.

An effective bill on animal cruelty should allow for the prosecution of negligent animal owners. It should protect the rights of those who work and must kill animals for their livelihood, such as anglers, hunters, trappers, farmers and biomedical scientists, et cetera, but it must prosecute individuals who harm animals without lawful excuse or who do so in a malicious way.

An effective bill must offer protection to pets and farm animals as well as stray and wild animals. It must make it illegal to train animals to fight one another. It must make it a crime to kill an animal with brutal or vicious intent, whether or not the animal dies immediately. This is one of the problems with our current law.

This would ensure that the perpetrators of grievous crimes, those who make the headlines, are actually brought to justice. We need to take that one-quarter of 1% into a figure we can be proud of and demonstrate that we are actually doing something.

Why do something about animal cruelty? The first thing that would come to mind, obviously, is hopefully because we would care, because we would have some compassion toward animals, because we would feel they deserve dignity and our protection. One would hope that this argument would be enough reason to protect animals.

However, there are other reasons. Certainly as Parliamentarians we have to consider the will of the Canadian electorate. We have to consider the will of those we represent. Anecdotally, we would all say, Canadians by a large measure want to see effective animal cruelty legislation, but SES also conducted a poll on behalf of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies in which 85% of respondents said they supported legislation that would make it easier for law enforcement agencies to prosecute perpetrators who commit crimes against animals, including wild and stray animals.

This means that 85% of Canadians said that existing legislation does not cut it. And Bill S-213 does not cut it. In fact, a petition was before the House with nearly 120,000 signatures, an enormous number, and it said that Bill S-213 did not do it, that it was placebo policy and it was essentially entrenching all of the same problems that we have today. The petition said that we needed to modernize our laws and, whether or not that is Bill C-373 or some other bill that accomplishes those aims, we should move forward with it.

The third reason we should care about animal cruelty, if those first two are not compelling enough, is that it is a precursor to violent behaviour against human beings.

In fact, Dr. Randall Lockwood, a Washington, D.C. psychologist who is also the vice-president of the Humane Society of the United States and one of the world's leading experts in the field of animal cruelty, states, “While not everyone who abuses animals will become a serial killer, virtually every serial killer first abused animals”. Of course this has been brought to the attention of the justice minister. He has been talked to about it and is made sick by this, it is said. It will continue to be brought to his attention until something is done.

We have every reason in the world to take action and yet we have not. In fact, we are still arguing about dealing with a non-measure that we are going to try to hold out as action. That is why groups like the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and so many others oppose Bill S-213 and urge the passage of Bill C-373 or other such effective legislation.

It is time that we listen to those voices, that we listen to voices of reason. It is time that we pass something that, frankly, should be motherhood. It is time to take effective action on animal cruelty and stop playing games or trying to pretend we are taking action. We need to stand up and either vote for Bill C-373 or have the government bring forward effective animal cruelty legislation.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

February 26th, 2007 / 11:40 a.m.
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NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill S-213. I would like to advise the House that the NDP will not be supporting the bill.

We take the issue of cruelty to animals very seriously. The current animal cruelty laws were enacted in 1892 and have not been substantially altered in 114 years of Parliament's rule over this land. The answer to dealing with these issues is not simply to cosmetically increase the sentences that are being meted out for offences that are not enforceable in the first place and have not been enforceable over many years.

There have been many instances of animal cruelty where the RCMP has not bothered with charges because the punishment meted out was not worth pursuing the case and it was impossible to prove wilful neglect. We need more of a deterrent. We need something that speaks to the nature of animal cruelty in a modern context.

Hon. members who have spoken before me have talked about the history of dealing with this issue in Parliament over the last seven years. Parliamentarians and governments have tried to focus on this issue and have found that it is impossible to move modern legislation through the two Houses that deals with animal cruelty.

The former government's Bill C-50 was not allowed to pass through the Senate. In 2003 it had support from animal protection groups, animal industry groups such as farmers, trappers and researchers, the vast majority of Canadians, and all parties in the House of Commons.

We have seen a disconnect when dealing with this issue of animal cruelty. We are stuck. We are only dealing with this bill now, not another companion bill, that would achieve support in the House and in the Senate. On the one hand we can put this bill forward which will cosmetically increase the penalties for animal cruelty, but it will not deal with the fundamental issues of a modern animal cruelty bill. That is not adequate. It should not be adequate to parliamentarians. It was not adequate in 2003 and I fail to see how it has become adequate today.

When we look at animal cruelty and the opportunities for the misunderstanding that comes with harvesting of animals, with the use of animals in agriculture, those things cry out for a clear definition. They cry out for a modern bill that would set the terms and conditions by which human beings could deal with animals. Without that, the deterrents are meaningless.

My constituents have spoken to me on this issue and have urged me not to support Bill S-213. I see their logic. I am concerned. The hon. member for the Bloc said that if we set higher deterrents without understanding the nature of cruelty to animals and without outlining it carefully in the legislation, we may find that it will lead to difficulties in different industries in the future.

My constituents still are part of the trapping industry. My constituents utilize animals in a modern fashion. When I look back through the history of trapping, humane traps were designed by trappers in response to their understanding of the nature of cruelty to animals. That is admirable. The industry looks at how it conducts business and regulates itself to a great degree. The understanding of the nature of that can lie with the industry very well.

In my own home community of Fort Smith, the Conibear trap was originally developed by a trapper who worked for many years in the bush. He saw how leghold traps worked and how effective they were and how the tools they used worked with the animal population they were harvesting.

Those types of issues need understanding in a bill. It is not good enough simply to increase the sentences for the actions of society toward animals. We need to understand how to use the law to make society work better with animals. That requires more than simply raising the penalties in a law that was first enacted in 1892 and virtually has not changed since then.

I do not think that this action today is correct. We need to look at the question in its entirety. Parliamentarians in the past have done that. We have not been able to come to a full consensus in both houses but we have a duty to Canadians to act correctly in this fashion.

Our party's justice critic may have an opportunity to expand on this in further debate. I urge members to consider carefully what is being done here.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

February 26th, 2007 / 11:30 a.m.
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Bloc

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.

Animal CrueltyPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

December 12th, 2006 / 1:10 p.m.
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NDP

Denise Savoie NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have another petition to present with regard to animal cruelty stating that Bill S-213 will not meet the needs of Canada's animals and, unlike its predecessor known as Bill C-50, will do little to prevent further abuses.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon the government to veto Bill S-213 and, instead, enact legislation similar to Bill C-50 which would safeguard animals and hopefully lead to less violence.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

October 30th, 2006 / 3:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-373, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals).

Mr. Speaker, we recently learned of the death by brutal torture of Daisy Duke, a Labrador Border Collie cross, in Didsbury, Alberta. This outrageous action highlights the failure of Parliament to modernize Criminal Code provisions dealing with animal cruelty.

Our present laws date back to 1892 with only minor amendments. Bills to modernize our animal cruelty laws have been introduced in every Parliament since 1999, but they have all died on the order paper.

This bill that I am introducing today is identical to Bill C-50 in the 38th Parliament. It is the product of countless hours of debate, testimony and study. Previous versions of this bill were in fact passed by both Houses of Parliament but failed when both Houses could not agree on minor amendments.

I not only call on all members of the House in all parties to get behind this bill but on the government itself to reintroduce this legislation as government legislation. It is time we passed proper legislation for the protection of animals and stop failing Canadians.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Business of the HouseOral Questions

November 24th, 2005 / 3 p.m.
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Hamilton East—Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I see the hon. member across the way is displaying his charm once more.

I also think the hon. member understands clearly that the call for the election and, ultimately, if there is an election caused, it will be the opposition members who will have to take responsibility since they will be voting to dissolve Parliament and we will be voting to sustain Parliament in order to continue the work that I will now lay out.

This afternoon we will continue with the opposition motion.

On Friday we will call consideration of the Senate amendments to Bill C-37, the do not call bill; report stage and third reading of Bill S-36 respecting rough diamonds; report stage and third reading of Bill C-63, respecting the Canada Elections Act; and second reading of Bill C-44, the transport legislation.

We will return to this work on Monday, adding to the list the reference before second reading of Bill C-76, the citizenship and adoption bill; and second reading of Bill C-75, the public health agency legislation.

Tuesday and Thursday of next week shall be allotted days. There are some three dozen bills before the House or in committee on which the House I am sure will want to make progress in the next period of time. They will include the bill introduced yesterday to implement the 2005 tax cuts announced on November 14; Bill C-68, the Pacific gateway bill; Bill C-67, the surplus legislation; Bill C-61, the marine bill; Bill C-72, the DNA legislation; Bill C-46, the correctional services bill; Bill C-77, the citizenship prohibitions bill; Bill C-60, the copyright legislation; Bill C-73, the Telecom bill; Bill C-60 respecting drug impaired driving; Bill C-19, the competition legislation; Bill C-50 respecting cruelty to animals; Bill C-51, the judges legislation; Bill C-52, the fisheries bill; Bill C-59 respecting Investment Canada; Bills C-64 and C-65 amending the Criminal Code.

In addition, there are the supplementary estimates introduced in October that provide spending authority for a wide variety of services to the Canadian public and we the government would certainly like to see this passed.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

November 23rd, 2005 / 4:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present the most recent of many petitions signed by thousands of people who deplore the delay in the animal cruelty legislation.

The petitioners believe that the delaying tactics of the Conservatives has been a great disservice for animals, animal lovers and groups such as farmers. The petitioners want the legislation passed soon. The petitioners point out that there have been several highly publicized examples of deliberate cruelty to animals and that this affects the work people such as veterinarians.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to expedite the process of enacting Bill C-50 to law and ask all members to exercise good conscience in so doing.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2005 / 6:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Barry Devolin Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Madam Speaker, I hope the member does not crash either. I look forward to as long and illustrious career as he has had.

In terms of Bill C-50, I think all Canadians would agree that we would oppose cruelty to animals. That is not the issue here. I am not a lawyer, and I say that as often as I am given the opportunity, but I have been told by lawyers that one of the problems in prosecuting these cases is often the challenge of actually getting sufficient evidence to get a conviction. It is not so much that there are not laws on the books and quite frankly, it is not even so much that this bill would necessarily change the laws so much. The problem is gathering sufficient evidence. I suspect that is a problem that this bill, whether it passes or does not pass, is not really going to change.

In my riding there is a non-partisan farm council which I speak to regularly. Its members inform me about agricultural issues and advise me on different things. One of the members of the farm council runs a fox farm where foxes are raised and sold for their fur. They have concerns with this bill that something such as tattooing numbers on an animal's ear may be challenged at some point in the courts. Their concerns are valid in terms of their fear about what this bill will actually mean once it goes through the courts, as opposed to being concerned about what the intent is of parliamentarians.

They are concerned because animal rights activists in the country, who I believe represent a very extreme view, do not represent the mainstream and would like to see all practices that involve animals ended. They have said quite boldly and defiantly that if this bill passes, they will work hard to push this new legislation to its limits in the courts. They will test it. They will prod and probe to see exactly how far they can push it. I suspect they will keep their eyes on which area they are in and who the judges are. That is not to insult judges but just to recognize that they may know that some judges may be more or less sympathetic to their views and that that may establish case law.

Several years from now we may be standing in this House talking about how we all thought Bill C-50 was a good idea because of what we intended, but unfortunately the real world result of it was different. At the end of the day it will be the courts that will interpret the bill. What the courts decide will be what actually happens on the ground.

I mentioned earlier in a question to another member that only last week I met with representatives from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. I come from a rural riding in central Ontario. There are many people in my community who enjoy hunting and fishing as a recreational activity. Quite frankly many of them use the spoils from that activity as a way of augmenting their food supply over the course of a year.

I listened carefully to the representatives from the OFAH and they made a couple of points. Their first point was that if there were a couple of amendments made to this bill, they could live with it. They never said they would like it, but they did say that if a couple of important amendments were made, they could live with it.

They have a concern with the phrase “the owner, permits an animal to be killed, brutally or viciously, regardless of whether the animal dies immediately”. I do not know what that means. I suspect that if the bill stays the way it is, that will be the subject of interpretation in the court. I am sure that will be one of the areas that is probed. I do not think it is unreasonable to suggest that any time any animal is killed, on some level it is brutal or vicious. I do not know how one could kill something in such a way that no one could suggest that it was brutal or vicious.

Anyone who has ever visited a slaughterhouse knows it is not a pretty sight. There is the old joke that making legislation is like making sausage; the less one knows about how it is done, the better one will like it. That suggests that sometimes the process of producing the food we eat every day may be something with which people are not that familiar and they may not be that comfortable if they knew about it.

The point is, as a society I think it is acceptable for us to use animals, both agriculturally as well as recreationally and that many of those uses involve the killing of those animals. It is very reasonable for an organization like the OFAH to raise this concern and to say that it has a real problem with some of the wording. While the OFAH is not suggesting that the framers of the bill are deliberately going down this path, I think it is concerned that we may inadvertently go down this path, whether it is through sloppy language or whether it is through someone who was involved in the drafting process who may actually have an agenda that is a little different from the mainstream of people who support the legislation. That is important. The will of this place is not always done. The will of this place is as determined by the courts and we will have to see that.

It is a very responsible position that my party has put forward, which is that in principle, and I would say obviously, we agree with the suggestion that cruelty to animals is wrong. It is very reasonable that we have looked at the bill and said largely our party can support it but there are at least a couple of amendments that are absolutely necessary to make the bill acceptable. One of the things I have learned in a year and a half in this place is that often a bill comes forward and it is not exactly the way we like it. We have to decide if we are going to vote against the bill because it is not perfect, or whether we are going to vote for it and hope that at the committee level the amendments can be made to make it the way we think it ought to be, in which case we could support it at the end of the day, but I guess we could oppose it at the end of the day if the amendments were not made.

That is a reasonable position. That is the position the Conservative Party has put forward. I think that concerns of organizations like the OFAH are also very reasonable. Quite frankly, it is unreasonable for legislators, for members of Parliament to stand in this place and suggest, “Do not worry. We have looked after it. Trust us. The fine print is all okay. Nothing unintended will happen. We know exactly what the real world implications of the bill will be. We can anticipate with great accuracy how this will work its way through the courts and at the end of the day, what the real world impact of this will be”.

I think that the concerns brought forward by the OFAH and others, and in fact many of my colleagues, are legitimate. I also think that animal groups, which I would suggest do not represent the mainstream but in fact represent a very narrow slice on the extreme, do have an agenda. The fact that they are excited about the bill and that they think the bill moves things in the direction they would like to see, in itself causes alarm among many people in the mainstream whether they are farmers, fishermen, hunters or others who use animals.

Earlier today I heard it said that those who use animals in research are often at the forefront or at the edge of the wedge of this issue, and that they are comfortable with it. That may be true. I do not know, but I accept it as true. I come back to my point which is that they operate in a controlled environment and maybe they have been satisfied that their concerns have been addressed in the fine print and in the detail, but I think that there are probably other groups that do not feel that way.

The suggestion that the bill needs to be looked at more carefully is reasonable. There are at least a couple of amendments that need to be made to the bill, which is reasonable. For us to suggest to Canadians that they should not worry and to trust us is not reasonable. Canadians need to look at these things themselves. Shining the light on this bill, if in fact it is a good piece of legislation, I am sure it will survive that process. If it is not, then what it deserves is what it will get.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2005 / 5:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

It is not sloppy legislation. If the hon. member across says that it is sloppy legislation, then he had better go to all these groups, including the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, and tell them that all of them are wrong, if that is what he thinks. The hon. member across is entitled to say that all of the agricultural groups are wrong and maybe he can go tell them that they are wrong.

I understand tomorrow will be a big lobby day on the Hill for some of the agricultural industries, particularly in supply management. The reason I know this is that I am sponsoring the event, which will be a large social event. Perhaps the member could tell them how they are all wrong in supporting this bill. They will be pleased to know how the hon. member thinks he is so much smarter than all of them. They might have a different opinion of the hon. member after he has told them that but he is perfectly entitled to do so.

I will be at the lobby event tomorrow shaking hands with the hon. member when he enters the room to explain all this to my constituents, agricultural constituents and all the others across Canada who support the bill.

Just in case the hon. member and others did not get it, I will repeat what I said. The industry organizations wrote, as in paper, to the Minister of Justice before this legislation was introduced and requested it. All these agricultural organizations and everyone else who asked for the bill, who the hon. member says are wrong, wrote and requested this. With no disrespect, these people know a little bit more about agriculture than some of us and they are in favour of the bill.

These same groups wrote again to the minister in February 2005, three months before Bill C-50 was introduced, and again requested its introduction. I just happen to have the text of that letter here and it says, “We once again ask you to move forward with the reintroduction of Bill C-22”. Bill C-22 was the original bill as I indicated a while ago. People in the agricultural sector asked, not only once for the bill but they wrote a second letter asking for it again.

The moral of this story is that no matter whether one lives in urban Canada or rural Canada the issues are not that different. There will be people on the margins here and there, on the extreme side one way or the other, but no one can tell me that my constituents who work in agriculture are less conscious of proper animal husbandry and less conscious of issues involving cruelty to animals than people living in the urban parts of my constituency who may never have been inside a slaughter house or anything close to it. One might know more about how it is done than the other, and as someone who was raised on a farm I believe that, but that does not mean that one group is less concerned about animal welfare than the other.

When it is time for a cow to give birth, how many of us know that a farmer will be up all night attending to it? They take a lot of care in feeding their animals. Sometimes they are more careful with feeding their animals than they are with their own diet, but that is another matter.

All of that is to say that this is good legislation for either rural or urban Canada and it is supported by rural Canada.