moved for leave to introduce Bill C-414, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals).
Madam Speaker, this private member's bill deals with an issue that is scandalous in that it was not put into law many years ago. This bill, in a somewhat different form, has been through this House twice and then stopped, once by prorogation and another time by the Senate.
The bill is quite straightforward. It is to address the reality that our criminal law dealing with animal cruelty has not been changed for over 100 years. This bill would bring us into the 21st century where other countries, which I would argue from a criminal justice standpoint are not nearly as advanced as Canada is, have moved on this issue.
The bill would do two basic things. It first recognizes that animals are sentient beings as opposed to a piece of wood or a piece of furniture, which is the way the Criminal Code currently treats them. The other thing that it would do has a very clear consequence. The number of convictions for animal cruelty would increase dramatically under the Criminal Code. We have estimates that only one in a thousand cases of animal cruelty can result in convictions under the Criminal Code, and this would address that issue.
It is a bill that I have worked on for a very long time and this is the third time I have had it as a private member's bill. It has been before this House for well over a decade and still has not become law.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)