An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting)

Sponsor

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to

(a) define “bestiality”;

(b) expand the scope of the offence of encouraging, aiding or assisting at the fighting or baiting of animals or birds so that the offence

(i) includes promoting, arranging, receiving money for or taking part in the fighting or baiting of animals or birds, and

(ii) also applies with respect to the training, transporting or breeding of animals or birds for fighting or baiting; and

(c) expand the scope of the offence of building, making, maintaining or keeping a cockpit so that the offence applies with respect to any arena for animal fighting.

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

May 8, 2019 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-84, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting)
May 8, 2019 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-84, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting)
March 18, 2019 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-84, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting)

Bill C-84—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 8th, 2019 / 4:05 p.m.
See context

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved:

That, in relation to Bill C-84, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting), not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the Bill; and

That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

Bill C-84—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 8th, 2019 / 4:20 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have to say for the hon. Minister of Justice that not all members in this place have had ample opportunity. Some of us have had no opportunity.

I would also like to say that, while the Green Party is in strong agreement with the bill, there is a difficulty with repeatedly using time allocation. This debate is about the question of time allocation. The overall message, which is most unfortunate, appears to be that allowing full debate on legislation, whether it is on an omnibus budget bill or a small bill that is relatively widely supported, such as Bill C-84, is basically a waste of time. The message is that it is up to the government to pass the bills, and when the opposition debates, it is basically a waste of time and gets in the government's way.

I do not think that is what the government wants to communicate to Canadians, but the number of times time allocation has been used in this place is not only deeply shocking to me, but it is horrific. It means that what Stephen Harper did in this place is now normalized by the very members who used to decry it.

Bill C-84—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 8th, 2019 / 4:25 p.m.
See context

Liberal

David Lametti Liberal LaSalle—Émard—Verdun, QC

Mr. Speaker, I share the substantive concern that the hon. leader of the Green Party is raising. I can speak to the bills that I am, as minister, shepherding through the House. Certainly, on Bill C-84, the process has worked in the sense that a number of very good amendments were made at committee stage and there was robust debate.

Both Bill C-75 and Bill C-78 have had a number of interesting discussions in the House. They have gone to the other place. We are thinking about amendments on them based on our work in this House and on what the Senate is doing.

The process is working. I think we are approaching it in good faith. The fact of the matter is that sometimes we run out of time, and we feel we have done that in this particular case.

Bill C-84—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 8th, 2019 / 4:25 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to be on both opposition and government benches. I have recognized on both sides that at times there is a need to use time allocation, because it is a tool that is there to ensure that priority bills can be passed. In fact, we have seen the New Democratic Party members here identify government bills they believe are a priority, and they supported time allocation.

It is interesting to listen to the questions that have been posed to the minister. When was that interest expressed to have an hour debate and then allow it to pass? The expression of interest to do so only came after time allocation was put into place.

For the minister, in recognizing the importance of Bill C-84, I suspect that if we did not bring in time allocation, there would be a very good chance we might not be passing the bill today, because we have seen oppositions in the past talk out a bill that everyone supports, ultimately forcing government to bring in time allocation.

Bill C-84—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 8th, 2019 / 4:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, part of the minister's argument today has been that we need to get this legislation to the Senate to speed things up. I can understand that. We only have so much time.

That being said, by the same token, Bill C-75 has gone to the other place and it is a much larger bill. Would the member not agree that this particular bill, Bill C-84, should have been wrapped up in Bill C-75, gone to the justice committee and had full exposure to all of the different parts in that omnibus piece of legislation, so it could have maybe left a stand-alone bill for us to have a full discussion on the deferred prosecution agreements, an issue which was in Bill C-74, division 20?

That piece of legislation did not get a full hearing at finance committee. Only one witness from the justice department came to speak to it. I still get calls on a regular basis from people in both the academic and the legal communities who feel that the Liberal government's approach to that piece of omnibus legislation maligned Parliament and denied the proper hearing of major changes to the Criminal Code.

Would the member not agree that this place must be respected? Would he agree that that kind of sleight of hand by the government needs to change?

Bill C-84—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 8th, 2019 / 4:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

David Lametti Liberal LaSalle—Émard—Verdun, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the hon. member has brought up Bill C-75. We feel it is an outstanding piece of legislation that goes a long way toward improving the efficiency, fairness and speed, frankly, of our criminal justice system.

The unifying theme of Bill C-75 is, in fact, to make the criminal justice system more fair, more efficient and better working, particularly in light of rulings by the Supreme Court of Canada, such as Jordan, which force us to take those matters seriously.

The elements brought up in Bill C-84 do not have that same goal in mind, if I may, and therefore it is appropriate that Bill C-84 be part of a separate piece of legislation. It just did not fit in Bill C-75.

Third ReadingCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 8th, 2019 / 5:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, given the debate we just had on time allocation, I want to assure the House that I am very pleased to get up today to speak to Bill C-84. However, I am disappointed not to be speaking to a broader bill that could have simply been called “an act to amend the Criminal Code, animal cruelty”, because what we really needed was a broad review of the animal cruelty legislation and not a bill just narrowly focused on bestiality and animal fighting. Instead of that broader review, the government introduced a narrow and weak bill, which, fortunately, the justice committee strengthened with amendments. I will return to those in a moment.

Even though the Liberal government has missed the larger opportunity to modify animal cruelty provisions in the Criminal Code as a whole, some legislation on animal cruelty is long overdue. By my count, since 1999, there have been 14 failed attempts to amend Canada's animal cruelty laws. Some would argue that we have seen no significant changes in animal cruelty laws since the 1950s. I have to say that I am not sure that we would have seen the government introduce any legislation on animal cruelty at all if it had not been for the Supreme Court decision in R. v. D.L.W., in 2016, which pointed out the problems with the narrow definition of bestiality in the existing Criminal Code provisions.

My skepticism of the will of the Liberals to act was fuelled when the Liberals used their majority to defeat their own backbencher's private member's bill, Bill C-246, from the member for Beaches—East York,, entitled the modernizing animal protections act. That was the kind of broad look at the changes we needed and that this government bill should have brought forward. Bill C-246 would have provided for much more comprehensive reform than we have in the bill before us today, and New Democrats supported that bill when it came before the House, in contrast to the Liberals.

Bill C-246 would have increased sentences for repeat animal abusers, including creating the ability to have a lifetime ban, after a second conviction, on any ownership of animals. However, that is not in the bill we are dealing with today, and I am disappointed that it is not there.

As well, Bill C-246 proposed to deal with a wide range of acts beyond the Criminal Code that actually deal with the way we treat animals, including the Fisheries Act, the Textile Labelling Act, the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act—

Third ReadingCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 8th, 2019 / 5:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, let me just pick up again on Bill C-246, the Liberal backbench bill that the government defeated. It would have also dealt with the things that are in this government bill. We could have done what is in this bill before us, and more, by passing that private member's bill.

Perhaps most importantly, Bill C-246 would have moved offences against animals out of the property section of the Criminal Code and into a new section dedicated to offences against animals. This would not only have been an important legal reform; I think it would also be a very important symbol of our need as humans to rethink our place in the natural universe and to see ourselves as part of the web of nature on which we depend for our very survival, rather than seeing the Earth and all of its beings as simply property for us to use and discard when we are done.

I have spent a lot of time on this private member's bill because it puts the much narrower government bill in front of us into a proper context. The fact that the government used its majority to defeat a more comprehensive reform of animal cruelty legislation tempers the credit the government should get for bringing forward this bill today.

At this point, I also want to give credit to the Conservative member for Calgary Nose Hill, who pushed the government to act on the very narrow definition that the Supreme Court found by introducing her own private member's bill, Bill C-388, in order to make sure that the government was forced to bring forward its own bill instead of having to deal with hers.

The member for Calgary Nose Hill did acknowledge some concerns in her caucus that attempting to modernize and strengthen animal cruelty provisions might affect farmers and hunters. I also want to acknowledge concerns in indigenous communities that reforms of animal cruelty legislation should not infringe on aboriginal rights and traditional hunting practices.

However, like the member for Calgary Nose Hill, I believe we can update animal cruelty legislation and at the same time avoid unintended impacts on farmers and hunters and unintended consequences with regard to aboriginal rights.

Perhaps I should mention that I am not a hunter, nor have I eaten meat for more than 35 years. I am a proud dog owner, although I resisted the temptation today to wear a t-shirt with a picture of my poodle on it under my jacket. I should also say that my support for this bill will keep peace at home, as my partner is a very passionate advocate for animal rights.

In fact, New Democrats in this House have consistently advocated reform of animal cruelty laws. The member for Port Moody—Coquitlam has proposed his private member's bill, Bill C-380, which would have banned the importation of shark fins. He has been working very hard on the Senate bill, Bill S-238, which is a parallel bill, to make sure that we pass that bill before the House rises to help end the cruel practice of shark finning.

Both the member for Vancouver East and the member for New Westminster—Burnaby have introduced motions to ban the import of products containing dog and cat fur. Former Toronto NDP MP Peggy Nash had a private member's bill, Bill C-232, to strengthen animal cruelty laws, as did former NDP Quebec MP Isabelle Morin, so this is not a new cause for us to take up. This is something we have been fighting for for many years in this House.

At the justice committee, the member for Beaches—East York moved an amendment to Bill C-84, which was adopted unanimously and which broadened the government's too-narrow bill, and three very important provisions were added to the bill in committee.

The first of those allows a prohibition order on animal ownership for a certain period, as determined by a judge. The second makes it an offence to violate an order prohibiting animal ownership, meaning that someone could actually be prosecuted for violating that order of prohibition. The third allows restitution orders to compel those convicted to pay for the care of animals injured. Those were quite important aspects from his own private member's bill on which the member got consensus to bring into the bill before us today.

A separate amendment was also adopted to add bestiality to the list of offences covered in the Sex Offender Information Registration Act. As the member for St. Albert—Edmonton very clearly pointed out, the reason for doing this is that abuse of animals is often an indicator of other forms of abuse, in particular of child abuse. This becomes information that is very useful to the police. I thank him for bringing forward that amendment to this bill.

Those two amendments, one with three provisions and one with one provision, added important aspects to Bill C-84, even though it remains, as I said before, less than the comprehensive reform of animal cruelty legislation that I would like to see before the House.

Still, Bill C-84 does redefine bestiality more broadly than the court decision and it does prohibit a broader range of activities associated with animal fighting, so I and my fellow New Democrats are supporting this bill.

I would have to say personally that even if it only contained the provisions banning activities associated with animal fighting, I would support this bill. It is important to ban promoting, arranging and profiting from animal fighting. It is important to ban breeding, training or transporting animals to fight and it is important to ban keeping any arena for the purpose of animal fighting. I think these are very important steps.

I am not going to go on for a long time, despite the accusations of the government that the reason that we wanted to speak was to delay the bill. I am not even going to use all my time today. I want to conclude by saying that the reason I wanted to speak is to bring our attention to the fact that there is still a lot of work to do on animal cruelty after we pass Bill C-84.

We are missing the opportunity for that comprehensive reform that I have been talking about. In particular, I believe this bill should have included basic standards of care and housing for animals. It could also have included restrictions on tethering animals, in particular dogs, a practice that, since it is unregulated, can be a severe threat to the health and safety of dogs. Of course, tethered dogs are much more likely to bite, and specifically to bite children. In fact, according to the Montreal SPCA, tethered dogs are three times more likely to bite and five times more likely to bite children.

Again, after Bill C-84 passes, there is much more work to do beyond fixing the additional provisions of the Criminal Code that I mentioned earlier. Most important, of course, is the work that needs to be done on protecting endangered species and the habitat that they depend on. This past week, we saw the release of an alarming report from the United Nations intergovernmental science-policy platform on biodiversity. This report documents the unprecedented and accelerating rates of species' extinction at rates never before seen in human history. The report warns that more than one million animal and plant species are facing extinction within the next few decades as a result of human activity.

What we do need now, and I mean right now, are bold measures to protect and preserve the ecosystems that the endangered plants and animals depend on. Since I arrived in this House eight years ago, I have been an advocate for emergency action to protect the southern resident killer whales, as we are at the brink of losing a species, each of whose name is individually known. Instead of a bold and urgent recovery plan for the orcas that would mobilize large-scale habitat restoration where appropriate and put millions of hatchery chinook in the water, this work is being left to volunteers, and they have undertaken this work without any government support. Instead of support, we have a timid recovery plan that tries to manage declining stocks of chinook by relying on fishing restrictions when everybody knows that what we actually need—not just the whales, but all of us—is more fish in the water.

In conclusion, while passing Bill C-84 is an important step forward in animal protection, it is only a first step in a process that will require us to re-examine our place in the natural world.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 8th, 2019 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, in their questioning, the NDP and the Conservatives talked a lot about the time crunch. It is important to recognize that the government, like Canadians and like members opposite, supports the legislation. It seems that everyone supports the legislation. However, just because everyone supports it does not necessarily mean that there is not mischievous behaviour. For example, today the NDP tried to prevent the bill from being debated by moving a motion. Had that motion been debated, we would not be dealing with Bill C-84 today.

It is a bit disingenuous to say that it is the government that is trying to hold back the legislation. I believe that there is fairly solid support both inside the House and outside the House, and I too would like to applaud all those advocates over the years who have brought us to this point.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 8th, 2019 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, what the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke said is very important to remember. When the member for Vancouver East stood to move that motion, we put no speakers up. We were interested in going straight to a vote. I just want to put the facts straight before the House.

In my riding of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, we had a dreadful case of animal cruelty last year. I acknowledge that changing the law, by itself, would not solve animal cruelty. It would be one important tool, but we need a variety of measures.

Shortly after the government defeated its own Liberal member's bill, Bill C-246, the then justice minister made a promise before the media that her government would be looking at the whole range of tools in the tool kit to see if it could revisit this issue. It dragged on through 2016, 2017 and 2018, and here we are finally in 2019.

Can my colleague add some comments on how the government has moved at such a glacial pace on such low-hanging fruit as Bill C-84?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 8th, 2019 / 5:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, right now, this is something to which we can all agree. Animal cruelty laws in Canada need to be vastly improved. We have laws that were adopted in the 1890s, slightly amended in the 1950s and they have unfortunately not been radically revamped in the world we live in today where most of us recognize that animals should not be treated as pure property. Animals are sentient beings. Animals can suffer. Most animals have the ability to know whether they are feeling pain. Today, our animal cruelty laws are, unfortunately, many years behind the times.

I want to salute the many groups that advocate for animal welfare, which helped in moving this legislation forward. I also want to congratulate those many other groups that work with animals, ranging from agriculture to people who deal with animals in other ways, including fishers and anglers. They have worked to ensure we have legislation that is satisfactory to virtually everyone. That is possible to do, with further animal cruelty legislation.

It is not true to believe that we can never find more compelling reasons to improve animal welfare because nobody will agree. People can agree, if we all come together. I strongly back the request of my colleague from Beaches—East York at our committee to look for an all-party parliamentary committee, probably not in this mandate but in a future mandate, to ensure we can all work with the many interest groups out there to advance animal cruelty legislation in Canada.

This is a specific bill that deals with several small issues. We made changes at the justice committee to broaden the scope of the bill slightly. As initially drafted, Bill C-84 defined bestiality. It is probably something that most of us never thought we would be talking about in this place, but I will do that.

A Supreme Court judgment in R. v. D.L.W. required legislative action. In R. v. D.L.W., the Supreme Court ruled that penetration was a necessary part of the definition of bestiality in the Criminal Code. It does not mean that there were not other offences in the Criminal Code that could deal with elements of bestiality short of penetration. However, the Court placed the onus on us in the House of Commons and on the people in the other place to revise the definition of bestiality in the Criminal Code, and we are proceeding to do that.

A number of people have said that the Supreme Court erred in its judgment. I do not agree that the Supreme Court erred. We disagree with the conclusions of the Supreme Court judgment, but that does not mean it erred in law. We take our law from the British system and in the British system and throughout the Commonwealth, there have been numerous cases where there were rulings that penetration was a necessary element of bestiality. That does not mean that now that the Court has clarified this, we in Parliament cannot change the definition to clarify that bestiality does not require penetration. We are doing that in Bill C-84. When the bill came before the committee, not only did each and every member of the committee agree with the proposed definition in the bill, but so did every group that came before the committee.

We also have expanded the scope of the offence of encouraging, aiding or assisting at the fighting or baiting of animals so that the offence:

(i) includes promoting, arranging, receiving money for or taking part in the fighting or baiting of animals or birds, and

(ii) ) also applies with respect to the training, transporting or breeding of animals or birds for fighting or baiting...

We are all aware that causing animals to fight for our own pleasure as human beings, the ability to push animals to hurt one another so some people can sit there and laugh or bet, is entirely cruel, inhumane and should not only abandoned, but people who violate that type of a provision should be punished, and punished severely. Therefore, I am pleased we are expanding the scope of that offence.

The bill would also expand the scope of the offence of “building, making, maintaining or keeping a cockpit so that the offence applies with respect to any arena for animal fighting.” We should be extending this not only to people who cause cocks to fight. Anyone who causes any type of animal to fight in an arena should be subject to the penalties of the Criminal Code. I am pleased that the bill would expand those provisions.

The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights also decided that certain provisions of the act should be amended.

With respect to section 160 of the Criminal Code, which prevents people from possessing or residing with an animal for a period of time, up to a lifetime ban, we wanted to ensure that people convicted under these new sections could be prohibited from owning an animal for up to the rest of their lifetime. Those who have been cruel to an animal once, particularly if they have been cruel in a very flagrant way or cruel a repeated number of times, should not be allowed to own animals.

The committee assigned in the bill the same prohibition and punishment of not being able to own an animal that the existing provisions on animal cruelty in the Criminal Code did. We also added a new subsection, which notes that people who have been convicted under these sections can also be required to pay the person or organization that has to take care of an animal to rehabilitate it. This would pay for the care and damage that they caused.

We also amended subsection 490.011(1) of the code, which defines the designated offences for which a convicted individual would be required to register in the sex offender registry, so that people who commit the offence of bestiality simpliciter will be required to register as a sex offender.

There was a significant amount of debate regarding this issue. Previously, individuals had commented that there was not enough proof linking the offence of bestiality simpliciter to other sex offences. However, our committee decided, based on the scientific evidence we had seen, there was sufficient evidence to require a person to register as a sex offender if he or she committed bestiality simpliciter and was convicted. I am very pleased my colleague's amendment on that score was accepted.

Finally, we repealed subsection 447(3) of the Criminal Code, which provided that “A peace officer who finds cocks in a cockpit or on premises where a cockpit is located shall seize them and take them before a justice who shall order them to be destroyed.” This required each and every cock that was seized to be destroyed no matter its health.

We determined that there was no reason to believe that each and every cock that was found in a fighting area necessarily needed to be destroyed. We were also convinced that provincial legislation on this matter was sufficient enough to deal with any orders that had to be made regarding the destruction of an animal that was so debilitated by fighting and needed to be destroyed.

To come back to my first point, the bill was indeed an example of our being able to find support from all sides. That should be congratulated. It means members were able to rise above partisanship to decide this was good for Canada, good for the animals in Canada, good for the children in Canada and good for all of us. At committee, we were able to work together with respect to unanimously approving amendments.

I am hoping that based on this agreement, we will be able to put partisanship aside and ensure the bill is adopted as swiftly as possible so it can move to the other place and become Canadian law prior to the next election.

A number of people in the House have advanced the cause of promoting the welfare of animals and they all deserve to be applauded, no matter from which side of the House they come. They are doing something truly noble in trying to help protect the very vulnerable animals, which really deserve much more protection than our criminal law and other laws afford them today.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

March 18th, 2019 / 1:10 p.m.
See context

Arif Virani Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Democratic Institutions, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, this is my first time rising since the events on Friday. I want to state for the record my solidarity, and the solidarity of all parliamentarians, with the people of New Zealand and the Muslims who were killed and injured at the two mosques in Christchurch.

I rise today to speak to Bill C-84. The bill proposes to amend the Criminal Code to strengthen the laws around bestiality and animal fighting. As members will recall, proposed amendments to Bill C-84 will, among other things, address a gap in the law identified by the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of the Crown v. D.L.W. That decision and its interpretation of the bestiality provisions led to calls for law reform to address a gap identified by the court; that is the common law meaning of bestiality was limited previously to simply penetrative acts.

The bill's proposal to identify bestiality as “any contact, for a sexual purpose, with an animal” would address that very gap. Although some may view this provision as a modest step, it is an important one that needs to be taken, and our government is very appreciative of the non-partisan approach that members from all sides have taken to advancing this needed reform in an expeditious manner through Parliament. We would like to note, in particular, the unanimous support the bill received at second reading and in committee.

I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to the witnesses who appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and to the members of that committee for their comprehensive review of this bill.

After listening to the testimony presented during the study of Bill C-84, the committee adopted three key amendments based on the expertise of witnesses who expressed their support for this bill. These amendments will provide for improved animal protections by authorizing the courts to issue a prohibition or restitution order when a person is found guilty of a bestiality offence. The amendments will also eliminate the requirement to destroy birds used in cockfighting.

Finally, these amendments will ensure that the names of those found guilty of engaging in a sexual act with an animal, or, in other words, those found guilty of the bestiality simpliciter offence, are added to the national sex offender registry. This amendment was proposed by the hon. member for St. Albert—Edmonton of the official opposition.

The issue of animal rights and welfare is an important one right around the country and in particular to the constituents in my riding of Parkdale—High Park. I have listened closely to the concerns of those residents. We are committed, as a government, to doing better on this issue by supporting this important bill.

I have heard in my riding, for example, from constituents such as Josie Candito, who has spoken to me repeatedly and testified while we studied the bill at committee, about the link between animal abuse and the abuse of children and women. What we know on that very point is that it is not clear that every animal abuser ends up abusing children and women. However, what is absolutely clear, and what the facts demonstrated at committee, is that people who abuse women and children have in their history an antecedence of having abused animals. This is a critical point because the bill targets that.

What we also heard from people like Anne Griffin and Tracey Capes, both of whom came before the federal/provincial animal welfare working group on Parliament Hill, are their thoughts regarding the bill and our government's continued efforts and progress to protect animals.

However, the one thing that my constituents have consistently reiterated is that there is still more work to be done to protect animals. They have told me that our next steps must be informed by a national consultation regarding the most important issues to Canadians or a high-level analysis by the federal government, taking into account the broad perspectives on an issue as vast as animal welfare. I have told them, the current Minister of Justice has told them and the former minister of justice has told them that Bill C-84 is an important first step toward our government's goal of more comprehensive protection for animals, and we indeed intend to continue this important work.

In my time today, I will review some of this important testimony and discuss how these amendments bolster the objectives sought by this crucial legislation.

As mentioned, the first amendment adopted by the committee would authorize a court to issue an animal prohibition or restitution order for each of the three bestiality offences found in section 160 of the code.

The object of this prohibition order is to prohibit offenders convicted of bestiality from possessing, having the care of or control over, or residing with an animal for any period that the court deems appropriate up to a lifetime prohibition. A lifetime ban may indeed be necessary in certain circumstances, having regard to the seriousness of the offence and the degree of responsibility of certain offenders. This was a helpful suggestion originally made by one of the important stakeholders who testified before the justice committee, Ms. Camille Labchuk of Animal Justice.

The restitution order specifically would require the offender to repay an individual or an organization the costs of caring for the injured animal as a result of a criminal offence. This would also make the offender more accountable for the consequences of his or her actions.

The proposed amendment builds on section 447.1 of the Criminal Code, which authorizes the court to issue such orders for persons convicted of animal cruelty offences. Right now, when someone is charged with a bestiality offence under section 160 of the Criminal Code, such orders can be issued only at the time of sentencing as a condition of a probation order or conditional sentence. These orders are limited in duration to the term of the imposed conditions and expire after that.

This was pointed out by Sergeant Teena Stoddart, from the Ottawa Police Service, when she testified before the committee. That means there is a gap in animal welfare measures, since the courts can issue such orders for animal cruelty offences but not for bestiality offences.

The committee also heard from several other witnesses on this issue, including, as I mentioned, Ms. Labchuk, executive director for Animal Justice; Ms. Barbara Cartwright, CEO of Humane Canada; Dr. Alice Crook from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association; and Professor Peter Sankoff from the University of Alberta, Faculty of Law. They all agreed on the need for this amendment to this important bill. Indeed, this amendment is entirely consistent with the objectives in the bill, and we on this side of the House are pleased to support it.

I would now like to turn my attention to the second amendment adopted by the committee, which provides for the repeal of subsection 447(3) of the Criminal Code.

The current subsection requires a peace officer who finds birds at cockfighting premises to bring the birds to a justice of the peace so the JP can order they be destroyed. That provision requires the automatic destruction of birds, but does not apply to other animals, such as dogs. It is very much a vestige of the distant past when animal fighting primarily involved only cockfighting and resulted in the roosters being so severely injured that they needed to be destroyed.

Nowadays, however, there are better ways to solve this problem in order to eliminate any legal loopholes in animal protection. Ensuring the welfare of these animals is a key objective for the provincial and territorial legislation and for the general powers set out in the Criminal Code.

First, the provinces and territories have jurisdiction over matters concerning animal welfare. That includes passing legislation dealing specifically with the seizure of animals in distress and the care they must receive, where possible, as well as the administration of humane euthanasia if necessary.

Second, some witnesses and parliamentarians believe that the criminal law does not address the seizure and automatic destruction of mistreated animals in an appropriate manner.

In fact, Madam Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice, testified before the committee that the automatic destruction of birds found in a cockfighting ring in the previous version of the section was “completely needless, and it ties the hands of authorities when there may be a better option for the birds.”

Ms. Labchuk further testified before the committee. She said:

We think the fate of any bird seized should be decided on a case-by-case basis. This is already done for dogs and other animals rescued from fighting rings. There is no principled reason that roosters or birds forced to fight should be automatically killed. It may be appropriate to rehabilitate them. It may be appropriate to send them to a sanctuary, where they can receive lifelong care and still enjoy a high quality of life.

It should be noted that Ms. Labchuk's position was broadly supported by other witnesses, including Ms. Cartwright, the CEO of Humane Canada.

All 10 provinces and the Yukon Territory empower peace officers and animal welfare inspectors to seize animals in distress. Furthermore, where appropriate, the legislation provides for the animals to be humanely destroyed.

Nunavut and the Northwest Territories allow peace officers and animal protection officers to seize dogs, and these territories have legislation requiring general rehabilitation for the dogs, as well as humane euthanasia where appropriate.

In addition to these protection measures, the Criminal Code also confers general powers on peace officers and public officers to seize offence-related property while executing a search warrant. Section 487 of the Criminal Code therefore authorizes peace officers to seize an animal, where circumstances warrant.

Once more, pursuant to section 489 of the Criminal Code, things not specified in a warrant can also be seized where a thing has been obtained by the commission of an offence, used in the commission of an offence or something that will afford evidence in respect of an offence under any act of Parliament. Accordingly, repealing subsection 447(3) would leave no gap in the law, which is an important point. Instead, repealing it would leave the matter of seizure and the question of whether care or euthanasia would be appropriate to be dealt with under applicable provincial laws and by persons trained specifically in such matters.

I would now like to draw the attention of the House to the third amendment adopted by the committee. This amendment would add the bestiality simpliciter offence, in subsection 160(1), to the list of designated offences for which an offender must be automatically ordered to register and comply with the requirements of the National Sex Offender Registry, pursuant to the Sex Offender Information Registration Act, or SOIRA, as it is commonly called.

This legislation, enacted in 2004, created the National Sex Offender Registry to help Canadian law enforcement agencies investigate sex crimes by registering specific information on sex offenders. When an offender is found guilty of a designated sexual offence, the court must order the offender to register with the National Sex Offender Registry and comply with the SOIRA for a period of 10 years, 20 years, or even indefinitely. Offenders found guilty of other designated infractions may be ordered to register with the registry and to comply with the SOIRA if prosecutors established the intent to commit a sexual offence during the commission of an offence like breaking and entering in relation to a dwelling-house, in paragraph 348(1)(d).

Currently, the designated sexual offences include subsection 160(2), compelling the commission of bestiality, which was added in 2011, and subsection 160(3), bestiality in the presence of or by a child, which was included in 2004 in an enactment of the Sex Offender Information Registration Act, known in English as SOIRA.

The justice committee received testimony and studies on the link between animal abuse and bestiality and acts of violence against persons, particularly women and children. I alluded to this at the outset, and it bears repeating. We do not know definitively that all animal abusers end up abusing women and children, but we know that for people who abuse women and children, their antecedents include abuse of animals in all instances. That was the evidence before the committee.

For example, the justice committee heard about the innovative work conducted by the Canadian Violence Link Coalition. It was launched to “study and bring forward all of the different academic research that's going on and that supports the links between animal violence and human violence.” The work of the Canadian Violence Link Coalition follows a multidisciplinary, multi-sector and collaborative information-sharing approach in strengthening the response to animal abuse and neglect and establishing its link to the abuse of humans.

During her testimony, Ms. Cartwright commented, “While not all abusers are serial killers, all serial killers are animal abusers.” The evidence I have been referencing is that of Ms. Cartwright, before the committee. The evidence demonstrates that abuse of humans is a common step up from animal abuse for individuals who have a propensity for serial violence.

Ms. Cartwright's remarks were reiterated by other experts, including Sergeant Teena Stoddart, who spoke about research reported in the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry showing that, out of a group of 943 inmates selected at random, half of sex offenders and one third of child molesters had abused animals as adolescents. The same study also confirmed that child molesters use animals to attract and win over their victims. By making inappropriate sexual contact with the animals, the molesters desensitize the children and normalize sexual contacts between adults and children.

There is growing international research in this area, but we were pleased to learn of new Canadian data collected by Amy Fitzgerald of the University of Windsor, primarily on the link between animal abuse and interpersonal and spousal abuse. I have to admit I was surprised to hear that Canadian research shows that these violence links are worse in Canada than abroad, according to similar international studies.

More specifically, women who are victims of violence also report that their animal is in the same situation.

This violence link is further supported by the testimony of Ms. Lianna McDonald, executive director, and Ms. Monique St. Germain, general counsel, of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. They spoke about the growing online proliferation of child sexual abuse images, of which the most explicit and extreme images depicting sexual assault against children involve bestiality.

Having regard for the evidence demonstrating the very strong relationship between violence toward animals and violence towards humans, we believe that adding a bestiality simpliciter as a designated offence is consistent with the underlying objective of the SOIRA and with the existing designation of the two other bestiality offences.

I would like to close by addressing one last point, which was raised during the study of Bill C-84. Some committee members and witnesses feel that this bill does not go far enough and that a comprehensive reform of the animal cruelty regime is overdue in Canada.

As the minister mentioned in his testimony before the committee, our government remains open to dialogue and discussion as to the best way to address these vast and complex issues.

That said, we are equally mindful of testimony received at the committee on the importance of moving these reforms forward as soon as possible, particularly because they are designed to close a gap in the law and enhance protections for the most vulnerable members of society. Moreover, it is very important to keep in mind that Bill C-84 is a targeted response to two specific issues that enjoy widespread support from all the key stakeholders in this area of the law. Those stakeholders submitted a letter to the Minister of Justice. Ten of the most important stakeholders, from agriculture to hunting to veterinary care, all support the aspects of this bill.

Bill C-84 is a meaningful and much-needed step forward. We are confident that we can move this critical piece of legislation ahead today and in so doing come one step closer to enhancing protections for the most vulnerable members in our society. On that basis, I would urge all members to support the swift passage of this important piece of legislation, Bill C-84.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

March 18th, 2019 / 1:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice is right. Bill C-84 is a critical piece of legislation, and I am glad he focused on three substantive amendments that were passed in committee unanimously upon hearing from various witnesses. That is committee work as it should be. I am pleased that the government supported my amendment so that all individuals convicted of bestiality would be required to register with the national sex offender registry. That is going to keep children, women and animals safe.

The one criticism I have, however, is that it has taken the government almost three years since the D.L.W. decision to close the gap in terms of the narrow interpretation the court has taken in terms of the definition of “bestiality”. Why did the government wait so long to pass a relatively straightforward piece of legislation that is so critical?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

March 18th, 2019 / 1:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I find it curious that the parliamentary secretary mentioned the private member's bill brought forward by the member for Beaches—East York, Bill C-246. The government did not get behind that bill, which was a much more comprehensive review of animal cruelty laws. It would have provided us with all the things in Bill C-84, essentially, plus a lot more that we really need to address, including the change from considering animals under the property sections of the Criminal Code to establishing a separate section of the Criminal Code for offences against animals.

I am wondering why the government did not support that private member's bill.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

March 18th, 2019 / 1:35 p.m.
See context

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Democratic Institutions, Lib.

Arif Virani

Mr. Speaker, I would point out to the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke that the important aspect of the private member's bill initiated by the member for Beaches—East York is that it started an important debate that needed to take place in this chamber. I will readily admit, as I am sure most parliamentarians would, that we learned a lot, in the process of going from that bill to where we are with Bill C-84, about the need to update and improve our animal protection laws and to find consensus where consensus can be found.

The difference between the private member's bill and the bill we have before us is that no fewer than 10 different stakeholders support the current bill. They include the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, the Chicken Farmers of Canada, the Canadian Pork Council, the Egg Farmers of Canada, the Canadian Hatching Egg Producers, the Turkey Farmers of Canada, the Canadian Bison Association, the Canada Mink Breeders Association, the Canadian Sheep Federation and the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council. It is an exhaustive list.

What is important is that it demonstrates what can be done to promote the same objective the member opposite and I share, which is promoting animal protection and ending animal cruelty when consensus can be found. We as parliamentarians have the responsibility to do that and to move forward on the best basis we can.