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

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (law enforcement animals, military animals and service animals)

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.

Sponsor

Peter MacKay  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to better protect law enforcement animals, military animals and service animals and to ensure that offenders who harm those animals or assault peace officers are held fully accountable.

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.

Votes

June 15, 2015 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.

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

June 11th, 2015 / 10:25 a.m.
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Richmond Hill Ontario

Conservative

Costas Menegakis ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to be here today to take part in the third reading debate of Bill C-35, the justice for animals in service act, also known as Quanto's law.

The proposed amendments to the Criminal Code support the Speech from the Throne commitment to bring forward Quanto's law in recognition of the daily risks taken by police officers and their service animals. The proposed amendments would create a specific new offence prohibiting the killing or injuring of a law enforcement animal, a service animal, or a military animal.

I note that the bill defines each of these terms. A law enforcement animal is defined as a dog or a horse trained to aid a law enforcement officer in carrying out that officer's duties. A military animal is defined as an animal that is trained to aid a member of the Canadian Forces in carrying out the member's duties, and a service animal is defined as an animal that is required by a person with a disability for assistance and that is certified, in writing, as having been trained by a professional service animal institution to assist a person with a disability.

Quanto was a five-year-old German shepherd Edmonton police service dog that was fatally stabbed on October 7, 2013, while assisting the police in apprehending a suspect. Quanto and its handler, Constable Matt Williamson, were in pursuit of a suspect in a stolen vehicle. When the vehicle became disabled at a gas station, the man jumped out and fled. Constable Williamson ordered the suspect to stop or he would send in Quanto. When his calls were ignored, Constable Williamson deployed Quanto. Unfortunately, as Quanto caught and held the suspect, the suspect began stabbing the dog with a knife. Quanto was taken for medical treatment, but his injuries, sadly, were fatal.

The Criminal Code has contained offences relating to the treatment of animals since 1892, and the current set of offences has existed since 1953. The penalties in the existing law were increased in 2008. The offence of killing, maiming, wounding, poisoning, or injuring an animal that is kept for lawful purposes, as set out in section 445 of the Criminal Code, was used to prosecute Quanto's killer.

However, the maximum sentence that may be imposed when this hybrid offence is prosecuted as an indictable offence is five years of imprisonment. The law provides that the court may, in addition to any other sentence, on application of the Attorney General or on its own motion, order that the accused pay the reasonable costs incurred in respect of the animal as a result of the commission of the offence.

Finally, paragraph 738(1)(a) of the Criminal Code authorizes the court to order the offender to pay the costs associated with training a new animal as restitution for the loss of an animal when the amount is readily ascertainable.

The person who killed Quanto was sentenced to a total of 26 months' imprisonment on various charges arising out of the tragic events of October 7, 2013, of which 18 months were specifically for killing Quanto. The accused was also banned from owning a pet for 25 years.

Quanto's killing was only the most recent instance in which a police service animal was killed in the course of a police operation. Another high-profile incident involved of death of Brigadier.

Brigadier was an eight-year-old Toronto police service horse killed in the line of duty in 2006. In that case, a driver in a fit of rage, while waiting in a line at a drive-through ATM machine, made a U-turn and barrelled right into the horse and the mounted officer. Both of Brigadier's front legs were broken, one so badly that he could never have recovered. The horse had to be put down.

The person who drove the car was subsequently convicted, including for dangerous driving causing bodily harm to Brigadier's mounted officer.

Members of this House will be aware of the many ways law enforcement dogs assist their handlers in protecting the public. A police dog is trained specifically to assist police and other law enforcement personnel in their work, such as searching for drugs and explosives, searching for lost people, looking for crime scene evidence, and protecting their handlers. Law enforcement canine units, like Quanto's unit in Edmonton, are a common component of municipal police forces as well as provincial police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

When I visited the police service in my region of York, at the invitation of York Regional Police Chief Eric Jolliffe, I had the opportunity to see the canine unit at work. I was given a complete demonstration and was joined by the Minister of Justice of our country. I heard very compelling evidence and support from the police officers who are working with these animals on a daily basis.

In 1995, after an absence of 23 years, a new version of the Montreal police canine unit was established. Today this canine unit has 11 officers and 10 operational dogs. The unit supports Montreal police officers in their investigations and daily activities. It is also called upon to work on certain operations where its specialties are required. For example, the unit will co-operate with police forces throughout Quebec that do not have canine units or will work with dog handlers on other police forces during major events. It participates in media, community, and cultural events, at schools and community meetings, and on television shows to promote the canine unit and the good work of the Montreal police service.

The dogs in the Montreal police canine unit specialize in specific types of work. Some dogs have general purpose training with a specialization in narcotics detection. Other dogs have a specialization in searching buildings, and some dogs have specialized explosives detection training.

On the international front, a number of American states, such as Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, and Oregon, have enacted laws making the intentional injury or killing of a police dog a felony offence and subjecting perpetrators to harsher penalties than those in the statutes embodied in local animal cruelty laws, just as an assault on a police officer may result in harsher penalties than a similar assault on a member of the public.

With respect to law enforcement horses, after they undergo special training, they may be employed for specialized duties ranging from the patrol of parks and wilderness areas, where police cars would be impractical or noisy, to riot duty, where the horse, because of its larger size, serves to intimidate those they want to disperse. Police horses provide the officers who ride them with added height and visibility, which gives their riders the ability to observe a wider area. However, it also allows people in the wider area to see the officers, which helps deter crime and helps people find officers in those instances when they need one.

This bill proposes to extend specific protection not only to law enforcement animals but to trained service animals and military animals. Service animals perform tasks that help their disabled human masters live independent lives. Most service animals are dogs, such as Seeing Eye dogs. However, other kinds of animals may be trained to be service animals. The cost associated with training a new service animal is significant.

The Canadian Armed Forces uses a variety of animals on a contracted basis as required. For example, animals assist members of the Canadian Armed Forces by sniffing for bombs. Each of these animals is required to have received specialized training that enables it to accomplish specific tasks in support of its human handler.

It should also be noted that this offence only applies when the animal is killed or injured in the line of duty. Animals that do not fall within the scope of the new offence are nonetheless protected under the existing animal cruelty provisions of the Criminal Code.

As with the existing section 445 of the Criminal Code, the proposed offence would require the offender to have intended to kill or injure one of these animals. That way, accidental or negligent conduct would not be criminalized. Like section 445 of the Criminal Code, the new offence would carry a maximum penalty of five years of imprisonment or indictment of 18 months and-or a fine of $10,000 on summary conviction. However, it is important to note that the proposed amendments would also require courts to give primary consideration to denunciation and deterrence as sentencing objectives in respect of the new offence. Furthermore, we must underline that there would be a mandatory minimum of six months of imprisonment where a law enforcement animal was killed in the line of duty and the offence was prosecuted by indictment.

Bill C-35 also includes a provision that would require the sentence imposed on a person convicted of assault committed against a law enforcement officer to be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed on the offender for an offence committed at the same time.

The murder of a police officer is classified as first degree murder and is punishable by life imprisonment with a mandatory minimum period for parole eligibility of 25 years. The Criminal Code specifically prohibits assaults committed against police officers in the performance of their duties for a number of offences, including subsection 270.(1), assault on a peace officer; section 270.01, assault with a weapon or assault causing bodily harm on a peace officer; and section 270.02, aggravated assault on a peace officer.

Regrettably, data from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics adult criminal court survey reveals that there are still too many assaults on police officers in our country. From 2009-10 to 2011-12, there were a total of 31,461 charges laid under section 270.(1), 345 charges laid under section 270.0, and 20 charges laid under section 270.02.

In 2009, the Criminal Code was amended to require courts, when sentencing persons convicted of such assaults, to give primary consideration to the objectives of denunciation and deterrence of such conduct.

I am sure that we all recognize that such attacks not only put the lives or safety of the individual officers at risk but that they also attack and undermine the justice system more broadly. Recognizing that the wilful killing or injuring of a law enforcement animal also undermines the justice system more broadly, the bill would require that the sentence imposed on a person convicted of the wilful killing or injuring of a law enforcement animal would be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed on the offender for an offence committed at the same time.

I could go on and on about this subject. However, I will close my remarks today by indicating that I am looking forward to the quick passage of the bill at third reading, and I sincerely hope that we can get the bill to our colleagues on the other side of the House and passed before we recess for the summer.

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

June 11th, 2015 / 10:40 a.m.
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Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I will preface my question by indicating that the Liberal Party will be supporting this legislation.

However, I am concerned that members on the other side seem to feel that every problem can be solved by an amendment to the Criminal Code. The Canadian Police Canine Association indicates that since 1965, 10 police dogs have been killed. Could the member enlighten us as to whether that is the full extent of the problem it seeks to address? Could he also tell us whether there are any measures, other than this amendment to the Criminal Code, the government is taking to deal with this perceived problem?

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

June 11th, 2015 / 10:40 a.m.
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Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his good work on the justice committee, particularly with respect to his contribution to the debate on this piece of legislation. I also want to thank him and his party for indicating their support for this legislation.

In response to his specific question, this legislation has been introduced in recognition of the special role these animals play in contributing to the safety and well-being of Canadians. This legislation would make it an offence to kill or injure these animals. I am sure the member will agree that strengthening the sentences imposed on those who would commit such an offence is intended to denounce and deter assaults against these animals.

Training these animals can cost a considerable amount of money. This legislation would send a strong message to those who would consider harming a service animal while it is exercising its duty that there are strict penalties. That is the scope of the bill, and I think it has wide support from Canadians across this country. I have heard from many in my riding and have been the recipient of much communication from Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

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

June 11th, 2015 / 10:40 a.m.
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NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech. I know how important this bill is to him.

In his speech, he mentioned that the existing Criminal Code sections require clear intent. People who commit acts of cruelty against these animals could use negligence or other defences in court. I would like him to explain whether, in his consultations, he saw the need to provide greater protection for all animals. As he already knows, the NDP will support Bill C-35.

I am wondering whether, during his consultations, he identified some gaps in the existing legislation and the sections dealing with cruelty towards other animals, such as domestic animals?

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

June 11th, 2015 / 10:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for her work on the justice committee and for her support and the NDP's support for this piece of legislation.

The committee heard compelling evidence from witnesses from across the country, particularly from Stephen Kaye, representing the Canadian Police Canine Association; Troy Carriere, who is head of the canine unit of the Edmonton Police Service and was responsible for Quanto; and Diane Bergeron, who appeared as an individual but who has done great work on behalf of the CNIB.

Law enforcement animals deserve special recognition in light of the dangers they face daily in their efforts to enforce the law and protect Canadians in their communities. Creating an offence specifically prohibiting the killing or injuring of these animals and strengthening the sentences imposed on those who would commit such an offence would specifically denounce and deter assaults against these animals, which are, because of the work they do every day, put in danger every single day.

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

June 11th, 2015 / 10:45 a.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, Quanto's law is an important step in recognizing the importance of what service animals do.

I agree with my colleague from the NDP that we need better protections under the Criminal Code for animals of all types, particularly because law enforcement agents often say that if they find out that someone has been cruel to animals in a sadistic fashion, it can be a predictor of criminal behaviour. It is very important that we do more to protect all animals and act on acts of cruelty against all animals.

If I have enough time, June 18 is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. I wanted to share with my friend across the way the gallantry of the British cavalry. A wealthy lord sent an expedition to recover the horses of the Duke of Wellington's army and brought them back to pastures to reward them for their bravery. It was reported that they would spontaneously cease grazing, look at each other, suddenly form a line, and charge.

These service animals are of a different category, and I am happy to support this law.

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

June 11th, 2015 / 10:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the leader of the Green Party for giving us that brief history lesson today. She makes a very valid point. These service animals are selfless. They are very courageous.

Steve Kaye from the Canadian Police Canine Association said that while officers might think twice about releasing or deploying their animals, that those animals were indeed anxious and ready to go into service without fear.

That speaks volumes as to the degree to which animals can protect humans, particularly peace officers.

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

June 11th, 2015 / 10:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague for introducing Quanto's law. It is really a marvellous thing to do and I very much appreciate it.

In my riding of Oakville, when we knocked on doors during the election, on some streets there was a dog at almost every second household. We heard them barking as soon as we hit the door. We grow so attached to animals not only because of their intelligence, but because they also give us companionship. In addition to that, a key reason that so many people in my riding have dogs is because they feel safe at night. The dog helps to guard the house. If prowlers came around or someone tried to break into the house, they would be scared off by the dog.

These are noble beasts that live with us. They have become part of our families. This high level of training and service that police dogs and horses do is a wonderful thing to behold. It is like dogs with jobs. This higher level of protection is a marvellous thing, and I congratulate the member.

Does the member think that with this extra protection provided to police dogs and horses, they will be given additional duties? Will police forces be able to use them to do more, or will they keep carrying on the way they have been?

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

June 11th, 2015 / 10:50 a.m.
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Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member makes a very valid point. Those of us who have pets at home know the importance of them as family pets, but there is also an element of protection that many families feel by having a dog at home.

This legislation sends a very strong message to people that if they seek to hurt a police animal, or a service animal or a military animal, there are severe consequences that go along with it. It is important to note that according to the RCMP, it costs upward of $60,000 to train one of these dogs. That is an awful lot of money to put into the training of an animal. We can appreciate the focus that police and trainers put in to training these animals.

This also sends a very strong message to the police and those who have the need for a service animal that their partner has that additional protection of denunciation and deterrence from criminals.

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

June 11th, 2015 / 10:50 a.m.
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NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to Bill C-35.

I am pleased to support this bill, and I think I speak for all of my colleagues when I say that all forms of animal cruelty are unacceptable.

There is no doubt that to us Bill C-35 acknowledges the importance and value of animals and especially our attachment to these animals, such as police or military dogs and horses and even service animals in general, such as dogs trained to help people with a disability or people who are visually impaired.

I think it is very important to highlight the crucial role these animals play indirectly in our lives. People may not be aware, but police dogs play a very important role.

The name Quanto's law is a reference to an incident that took place in Edmonton, in which a police dog named Quanto was stabbed to death.

These dogs, like Quanto himself, have played a role in many arrests and investigations. They play a role in our daily lives, and it is very important for us to be here together today to recognize the work not only of law enforcement dogs, but of service dogs who help people with disabilities on a daily basis. These animals support them, help them achieve their potential and accompany them every day.

In committee, we heard very moving testimony that showed us just how close an animal and a person can become and how much we are really all alike. In that sense, it is very important to recognize the merit of the bill, which I will explain in a little more detail.

The bill creates a new Criminal Code offence:

Every one commits an offence who, wilfully and without lawful excuse, kills, maims, wounds, poisons or injures 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 new offence will be added to the section of the Criminal Code on cruelty to animals.

It is important to note that this provision fully recognizes that law enforcement dogs are like police officers. Many witnesses mentioned that in committee as well. Obviously, these dogs do not talk or drink coffee, but they are like police officers because they are trained to do a specific job, such as detecting drugs or tracking a kidnapped child.

These animals are trained to do a job, one that police officers may not even be able to do given humans' limited sense of smell, for example.

These dogs are even trained to do some things that humans cannot do. Because of their special qualities, these animals play an extremely important role in our police forces, and so do service animals. We therefore support that clause because it is well written in that respect.

However, I do want to raise one concern. Numerous organizations and experts have recommended against minimum sentences on the grounds that they do not actually reduce the crime rate. Rather, prevention, education and other approaches solve the problem upstream rather than downstream. Unfortunately, minimum sentences never achieve the stated goal of reducing the crime rate.

The courts are quite capable of judging the severity of a crime and the aggravating factors. For example, in Quanto's case, the court sentenced the accused to 26 months in prison and made sure to mention that 18 of the 26 months were punishment for having stabbed the law enforcement dog to death. The sentence in Quanto's case was two times longer than what is set out in this bill. It is clear that the courts and judges can use their discretionary power to judge aggravating factors and the gravity of an offence. Forcing them to impose a minimum sentence removes that discretion.

Nevertheless, I will conclude my aside and my criticism by saying that subclause 445.01(1) is well written. Here is the first sentence:

Every one commits an offence who, wilfully and without lawful excuse...

This first subsection is written so as to ensure that mandatory minimum sentencing does not apply to those who are defending themselves. Furthermore, in committee, the witnesses said that at least that clause was written so that it will not apply in cases where people fear for their lives and have to defend themselves, which can happen in extreme situations, and those individuals will not automatically be sentenced to the mandatary minimum. This subparagraph is very well written and limits the cases that will be ultimately affected by mandatory minimum sentencing.

In some situations, we do not know how people will react. The witnesses made it clear that there are times when people fear for their lives and have to defend themselves against an aggressive animal. That clause is very well written. Adding the expression, “wilfully and without lawful excuse” means that only those who kill an animal in bad faith are targeted.

As the parliamentary secretary pointed out, someone could decide to drive their car straight into a police service horse. These people have an abnormal desire to kill an animal, as in the case of Quanto, where stabbing a dog to death was considered an aggravating factor.

Since that clause is actually very well written, the NDP will support the bill. However, I still wanted to raise that concern, because the Conservatives have passed many bills that amend the Criminal Code to impose mandatory minimum sentencing. This has been denounced by the Canadian Bar Association, the Barreau du Québec and many other associations, including defence lawyers associations.

A number of associations are saying that, unfortunately, minimum sentences do not produce the desired effect, which is to lower crime. What is more, they add an extra burden on the provinces and the justice system.

For example, last year, a Quebec justice system report noted an increase in costs associated with the number of mandatory minimum sentences. That is the case not just in Quebec, but also everywhere else, including the United States. The more mandatory minimum sentences are imposed, the heavier the financial burden on the provinces and the resources within Canada's justice system. Unfortunately, we are entering a vicious circle that is long on delays and short on resources. There are not enough judges and crown prosecutors. I think we need to take a balanced approach when it comes to our justice system. It is important to emphasize that, even though we recognize the importance of protecting animals.

That brings me to my second point. I think it is important to note that the witnesses unanimously agreed that the bill was necessary. We too often hear people talking about service animals. As I said, we are talking not just about police or military service dogs, but also service dogs for people with a disability or with reduced mobility. The witnesses unanimously confirmed the importance of recognizing the support these animals provide in our lives and how extremely important it is to protect them.

However, one witness from the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, the CFHS, said that Bill C-35 was a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, that is often the case with the Conservatives. They take a step in the right direction, but they never see things through.

The fact remains that the section on animal protection should be revised and improved to protect all domestic animals. Far too often we hear in the news about people torturing animals. Videos on YouTube and even Facebook show puppy mills and mills for other animals. There are really some very troublesome cases of animal cruelty happening. It is important to go a bit further and establish better protection for all domestic animals in the Criminal Code.

That brings me to the initiatives brought forward in the House of Commons by my NDP colleagues. For example, my very hon. colleague from Parkdale—High Park introduced Bill C-232. I know that it is extremely important for her. She has been working very hard for many years to help protect animals and to bring this issue to Parliament's attention. I would really like to thank her for all of her hard work.

Her bill, Bill C-232, would make it possible to move animals out of the property section and create a separate section dealing with animal cruelty. They would not be recognized as people under this legislation, but they would no longer be considered property. Animals are living creatures.

Bill C-35 does this for law enforcement animals, military animals and service animals, but not for all domestic animals. My colleague's bill would address that issue and provide additional protection for animals by moving them out of the property section of the Criminal Code and creating a section for living creatures.

Her bill would also allow the justice system to better define such situations and to deal more effectively with animal cruelty offences, which would increase the possibility of conviction for such offences.

I would also like to thank my colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine. I know how much she cares about protecting all of our animals. She has worked extremely hard on this issue since she was elected. I would like to thank her for that. She also introduced Bill C-592, which would provide a better definition of “animal” and would change the definition of “animal cruelty offence” to include the notion of intent.

My colleague, the parliamentary secretary, mentioned this. Unfortunately, the notions of neglect and intent are currently unclear and remain undefined in the section dealing with animal cruelty. This means that people who commit animal cruelty offences can use different forms of defence. We must take this step to define what constitutes intent in the section dealing with animal cruelty offences.

I thank the parliamentary secretary for the interesting statistics he shared. These figures show that this phenomenon is much more common than we think. Unfortunately, when someone pleads guilty to other offences, the animal cruelty offences are often dropped. For example, this is the case when someone pleads guilty or signs a plea bargain with the crown. These measures could also make it possible to see more convictions in cases of animal cruelty.

With respect to sentencing, I would also like to mention that in Saskatchewan, for example, the maximum sentence for animal cruelty and for injuring a law enforcement animal is two years. This bill already has a five-year maximum. Accordingly, we see the legislator's clear intent to punish those who injure, mutilate or kill law enforcement animals during the course of their everyday work. I would like to thank all the police and customs officers who work with these animals. I know how important this bill is to them. We support them in their work and now through the bill being studied.

However, I would like to reiterate the two concerns I described. It is a step in the right direction, but it would now be appropriate to go further and to update the animal protection provisions. Minimum mandatory sentences are not always necessarily the solution for preventing crimes.

We will support the bill. I would like to thank the parliamentary secretary for his initiative and the good work he has done, which has allowed us to have this important debate in the House of Commons.

On that note, I thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I will now be pleased to answer my colleague's questions.

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

June 11th, 2015 / 11:10 a.m.
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Richmond Hill Ontario

Conservative

Costas Menegakis ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for her passionate speech in support of the legislation and for pointing out the importance of this legislation to support service animals.

Did the member hear the story just a couple of days ago where a blind person was crossing a street in the United States and an oncoming car, being driven at speed, was not able to stop in time? The service animal, a dog, jumped in front of his partner, the blind person, to protect the person. The car hit them both. Thankfully, they both survived, but that is an example of what the animal did at a time when the dog itself was in danger. He saw the car coming and jumped between the car and the person to protect the person.

It just speaks to the need to put in this legislation to recognize that special service that these animals provide to human beings every day, police officers, people with disabilities and so forth.

I wonder if the member opposite can share with us if she has heard from her constituents how they feel about this legislation and about putting in legislation that would further protect animals, particularly those that are put in service by us.

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

June 11th, 2015 / 11:10 a.m.
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NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for his question.

Indeed, I did hear about this story. He really got to the heart of this debate: these animals play a crucial role in our everyday lives. Law enforcement animals are responsible for many arrests, and other service animals are also indispensable, as he has shown. People are quite concerned about protecting animals. We are so attached to them. As I said, they should not be considered property in the Criminal Code of Canada. They should be considered living creatures. They are our colleagues and our friends, and we are with them every day.

The people of La Pointe-de-l'Île care very much about protecting animals. I spoke to a number of people about the fact that we need to enact legislation to better protect our companion and service animals. As my colleague showed, service animals are living creatures that care only about helping the people they serve, not themselves. That is a quality that all of us here in the House of Commons should have.

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

June 11th, 2015 / 11:10 a.m.
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Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech. I obviously congratulate the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine for her bill. It is a copy of the bill that was introduced in the House by former Liberal MP Mark Holland.

Does the member realize that her party is trying to scrap this bill? The bill has been on the order paper and the schedule of debate for months and months, and each time the date for debate approaches, the bill gets bumped. As of right now, it will be debated for the first time on June 19, so it is too late to get it passed.

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

June 11th, 2015 / 11:10 a.m.
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NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is so typical of the Liberals to play partisan politics with an issue as important as animal welfare. I spoke for 20 minutes about the importance of protecting animals and the importance that the NDP places on this issue. However, the only thing that the member could think of doing is belittle me, belittle my party and disparage my colleague's efforts.

I just wanted to say that I find that completely unacceptable. My colleague stands there and wants to play partisan politics with a bill that the House is going to pass unanimously. Surely, he must have something better to do. Perhaps he should stand up and defend animals and say how unacceptable cruelty to animals is, instead of belittling the NDP, as the Liberals love to do.

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

June 11th, 2015 / 11:15 a.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from La Pointe-de-l'Île for her speech, which I listened to carefully and which is especially meaningful now, since Quebec recently introduced a similar bill regarding animal welfare.

Obviously, I do not by any means oppose this bill, and of course I will vote to support it. However, there is one thing that concerns me about this bill, because, once again, the Conservatives are bringing in more mandatory minimum sentences. I wish to take advantage of my colleague's expertise as a member and as a lawyer to ask her whether this is another example of the Conservatives' tendency to confuse the legislative and judicial branches.