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

Sponsor

Status

Second reading (Senate), as of May 16, 2019

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-84.

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)

May 14th, 2019 / 7:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Ali Ehsassi Liberal Willowdale, ON

Mr. Chair, I will be providing 10 minutes of remarks followed by some questions for the minister.

I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak today. I will focus my remarks on Bill C-84, which was passed by the House of Commons on May 8, 2019. It proposes a number of important reforms to address bestiality and animal fighting. These reforms would offer greater protections to children, other vulnerable persons and animals.

With respect to bestiality, the bill responds to the 2016 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. D.L.W. in which the court found that, absent a statutory definition of bestiality, the common law meaning of the term is limited to penetrative sex acts with animals. The consequence of this is that a gap has been identified in the law: bestiality offences do not apply to non-penetrative sexual acts with animals. This leaves children and other vulnerable persons without adequate protections from all acts of bestiality. Child protection and animal protection advocates, and members of the public, have called for legislative action to address this gap.

Bill C-84 proposes to remedy this by adding a definition to the bestiality offences that would include “any contact, for a sexual purpose, with an animal.” As mentioned by other hon. members, this definition would not apply to legitimate animal husbandry activities, such as artificial insemination. In fact, agricultural stakeholders have expressed their views, both in writing to the former minister of justice and before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, that they have no concerns that the proposed definition would apply to current agricultural standards.

This proposed amendment received broad support from parliamentarians and witnesses who appeared before the justice committee. It pleases me to see members of all parties come together in support of a common desire to provide stronger protections for the most vulnerable members of society.

The committee also passed two motions related to enhancing Criminal Code protections for bestiality offences.

The first motion proposed to amend the Criminal Code to provide that a court may issue a prohibition or restitution order for a person convicted of a bestiality offence. In the case of a prohibition order, the court would have the authority to issue an order prohibiting the person from possessing, having control over or residing with an animal for any period, up to a lifetime ban. A restitution order would be available to order the person to repay the costs to an individual or organization of maintaining the abused animal. These types of orders are already available for the animal cruelty offences, and it makes sense that they should also be available for the bestiality offences.

The second motion passed by the committee would add the bestiality simpliciter offence to the list of offences for which a convicted person must adhere to the requirements of the National Sex Offender Registry. I believe that this is a meaningful amendment to the bill, as it would increase protections for public safety by recognizing that oftentimes, those who abuse animals will also commit violent acts against people, and as such, these individuals should be tracked.

Other hon. members supporting the bill mentioned that they thought the reforms did not go far enough to increase protections for animals. However, I believe the bill does offer important changes that target the most vicious forms of animal abuse, bestiality and animal fighting.

The amendments in the bill would address animal fighting in two ways. First, the amendments would increase the list of prohibited activities that support the animal fighting industry, including promoting, arranging or receiving money for animal fighting. This would make it easier to prosecute an animal fighting offence by clearly setting out the prohibited acts, thereby encouraging more prosecutions under the Criminal Code. The second amendment would expand the prohibition against keeping a cockpit to ensure that the provision applied to keeping an arena for the fighting of any animal. This amendment is particularly important considering that dogfighting is now the main form of animal fighting.

When the bill was being reviewed by the committee, it heard detailed evidence from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association about the types of injuries that dogs suffered, including deep lacerations, broken bones and infections when forced to fight another dog. Law enforcement has reported that dog fighting, as with many illicit underground operations, is often connected to organized crime.

I am pleased that Bill C-84 will offer additional measures to combat animal fighting and make it easier for the criminal justice system to track these offenders.

The committee also passed a third motion, which the government supports, to delete the section in the offence of keeping a cockpit that required the destruction of birds found in a cockpit. This provision exists because such birds are often injured or trained to be aggressive and are unable to be held with other birds.

I agree with the position that the decision to destroy an animal should be made on a case-by-case basis after the animal has been examined rather than by operation of law. The destruction of animals that are seriously injured or aggressive, with no reasonable chance of recovery or rehabilitation, is already provided for under provincial animal protection legislation and does not need to be included in the Criminal Code. Moreover, it would be inconsistent with the objective of the amendment to the provision, which is to expand the prohibition on cockpits to apply to any animal and then to retain a provision that only applies to birds involved in cockfighting.

The measures proposed by Bill C-84 will strengthen public safety and protections for animals significantly. There has been much discussion about the correlation between violence against animals and violence against humans. In fact, in the United States the FBI has a national database that contains data on incidents of animal abuse in order to prevent violence against animals from escalating to violence against humans, including domestic abuse and serial murders. As well, many victims of domestic violence report that their abusers either abuse or threaten to harm pets in order to assert even more control over the victim. If a child witnesses animal abuse, that itself is a form of child abuse.

I would like to thank the members of the committee and the witnesses who appeared before us for their helpful testimony and important examination of the bill. As a result, three meaningful motions were passed by the committee and then supported in the House. The discussions that have taken place and the suggested amendments have produced a bill that has been strengthened through consensus and collaboration.

It is important that the bill be enacted as soon as possible, given the importance of these proposed amendments.

I have questions for the minister. I have heard from my constituents that they are pleased that our government is taking important steps with Bill C-84. Some even pointed out to me that these reforms did not go far enough. Has the minister encountered this sentiment from Canadians or stakeholders?

May 14th, 2019 / 6:15 p.m.
See context

Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Arif Virani LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Democratic Institutions

Mr. Chair, I think it is important that several things were outlined in the minister's speech. I would like to start with the question of victims.

From the work I have been doing as parliamentary secretary and the work that the committee has been doing on bills such as Bill C-84, where there was an important amendment to implement an offender registry for bestiality crimes, and Bill C-75, in relation to victims of intimate partner violence, I know that addressing the needs of victims is at the core of what we are doing as a government.

The minister mentioned in his remarks that under budget 2019 there is funding for the Department of Justice's victims fund, which is targeted at giving victims and survivors of crime the respect and dignity they deserve.

I wonder if the minister could elaborate on the types of projects these funds will support in budget 2019 to help us achieve our commitments toward addressing victims.

Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins ActPrivate Members' Business

May 10th, 2019 / 1:40 p.m.
See context

Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Arif Virani LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Democratic Institutions

Madam Speaker, I rise today to join this important debate on Bill S-203, an act to amend the Criminal Code and other acts with regard to ending the captivity of whales and dolphins.

Both I and my constituents in Parkdale—High Park have anticipated this piece of legislation for some time since it moved from the Senate to this House. Now that it has returned from the fisheries and oceans committee without amendment, I am pleased to stand and speak in favour of this bill. It is important to highlight the important work that was done by a unanimous fisheries and oceans committee to get it back before this House expeditiously.

Before I speak to the substantive elements of the bill, I want to add my voice to the voice of the leader of the Green Party and thank the Senate sponsors for this bill, the now retired Senator Wilfred Moore and Senator Murray Sinclair, who carried the bill forward after Senator Moore's retirement. I want to thank as well the House of Commons sponsor, the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, who commenced this debate today. All of these individuals have been tireless advocates for this legislation, and their activism and advocacy has helped carry Bill S-203 to this point we are at this afternoon.

The bill itself seeks to prohibit the taking of a cetacean into captivity and will amend the Criminal Code to create offences respecting cetaceans in captivity. It will also amend other acts to require a permit for the import of a cetacean into Canada and the export of one from Canada.

I want to begin by tracking our government's progress on the commitment to promote animal welfare rights in Canada and abroad. This is an important issue to me and the constituents of my riding of Parkdale—High Park, as I frequently hear from them about the work we must all do collectively to ensure the welfare of animals. Since 2015, we have made progress on this commitment.

In my role as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, one of the pieces of legislation I have had the privilege of working on is Bill C-84, an act to amend the Criminal Code in relation to bestiality and animal fighting. That bill will make important amendments to our Criminal Code to change the definition of bestiality and expand the animal fighting provisions to capture more of this conduct and ensure offenders are brought to justice.

This week is indeed a momentous week in this chamber, because it was only this week that Bill C-84 received third reading and was then sent to the Senate. I, along with many others, look forward to its study and its eventual passage there. In the same week that we dealt with Bill C-84 in this chamber, we are dealing today with Bill S-203. It has been an important week for animal rights in this country.

With the help of stakeholders such as farmers, industry groups, provinces and territories, and veterinarians, our government has also been active on ensuring proper and humane animal transport. Federally, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the CFIA, administers the enforcement of regulations related to animal transport, and plans are under way to modernize the regulations and humane transport provisions of the health of animals regulations. These have not been updated since the 1970s. The need to reduce animal suffering during transportation is clear.

In 2017, we also announced an investment of $1.31 million to an entity known as the Canadian Animal Health Coalition, the CAHC, to help ensure the safe transportation of livestock, develop emergency management tools for the livestock industry and improve animal care assessments.

We have also been engaged with stakeholders on the topic of animal welfare during the slaughter process. The stakeholders in my riding of Parkdale—High Park have spoken to me repeatedly about the need to ensure that animals are handled humanely at all points of their lives and that the high standards we expect regarding animal treatment are upheld. I absolutely agree with their sentiment that this kind of protection must be a priority, which is why I currently serve as a member of the Liberal animal welfare caucus.

Let us get back to the bill before us, Bill S-203.

Scientists agree that whales, dolphins and other extraordinary marine mammals like them should not be kept in captivity or bred in captivity, and that doing so amounts to cruelty.

Additionally, it is well documented that the live capture of cetaceans and their transport to a foreign habitat harms the natural habitat where the cetaceans originate. At a time when oceans are under increased threat from a number sources, such as habitat destruction, coastal pollution, overfishing and global warming, which all harm these cetaceans, we can scarcely afford to be keeping them in captivity.

We must also think about the difficult living conditions for cetaceans that live in a confined space, such as an aquarium, without the social contact and normal activities most cetaceans in the wild would enjoy. Those that live in captivity suffer from a higher rate of physical health issues and a lower life expectancy.

As well, calves generally suffer from a much higher mortality rate and a lack of emotional connection to others of their species as a result of the limited space when they are in captivity.

Therefore, where we may have seen whales, dolphins and other cetaceans in an aquarium as a form of entertainment in bygone years, in many cases we now realize that it actually amounts to animal cruelty. Thus, our government firmly agrees that the capture of cetaceans for the sole purpose of being kept for public display should be ended.

Importantly, while the banning of whale captivity is not yet in law, the practice has been in place for some years now, which is a good sign. Bill C-68, which was mentioned earlier in today's debate in one of the questions by a member opposite, was introduced by our government. It is currently in the Senate and passed in the House in June of last year. It includes amendments to end the captivity of whales unless for rehabilitation. This legislation now before us is the next step, the next important step, in ensuring the safety and security of these intelligent and complex creatures.

Presently, as was mentioned by the Leader of the Green Party, there are two aquaria in Canada that are holding cetaceans: the Vancouver Aquarium, in British Columbia, and Marineland, in Ontario. The Vancouver Aquarium, which is a not-for-profit institution, currently has a Pacific white-sided dolphin, which was rescued from the wild and deemed not releasable, as well as five belugas on loan to aquaria in the United States. The Vancouver Park Board has not permitted the aquarium to hold cetaceans captured from the wild for display purposes since 1996, but it does work with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to respond to cetaceans in the wild requiring rescue and rehabilitation. Marineland holds the remaining balance of cetaceans, including one orca.

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans retains the authority to issue a licence for the capture of live cetaceans. However, only one such licence has been issued over the past decade, and that was for the rescue and rehabilitation of a stranded Pseudorca calf. No licence has been issued for the purpose of displaying a cetacean publicly in over 20 years. As stated earlier, it has been the practice of successive Canadian governments that cetaceans not be captured or placed in captivity unless for rehabilitation.

It is also important to note the elements of Bill S-203 that relate to the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples, some of which feature whales and dolphins as a key component of their culture and traditions. These provisions were not initially part of the bill, but through the significant consultation process that took place while Bill S-203 was being studied in the Senate, the bill was sufficiently and appropriately altered.

It is essential to consider and address the needs of indigenous peoples. This is something I have heard frequently from the knowledgeable, engaged constituents of my riding of Parkdale—High Park and literally from people right around the country. They have always echoed to me that we in this place, as legislators, must apply an indigenous lens to all the legislation, government or otherwise, that comes before us. I am pleased to see that this is in fact exactly what was done in the Senate when it engaged in those consultations.

This legislation complements our government's work, which I have outlined. We are committed to the recovery and protection of marine mammals. This commitment is evident through another investment we have made, which is a $1.5-billion investment in what is an historic oceans protection plan that would help restore our marine ecosystems, in partnership with our indigenous partners.

As well, there has been a five-year $167-million investment in the whales initiative, which would take concrete steps to help endangered whales and reduce the impact of human-caused threats. Our latest announcement was $61 million for measures in support of the southern resident killer whale population off the coast of British Columbia.

Bill S-203 is one aspect of the support our government is giving to marine animals and their habitat. Bill S-203 is also supported by some significant leaders in the field of marine science and animal welfare, including Humane Canada and Animal Justice. Even the former head trainer at Marineland, Mr. Philip Demers, has expressed support for the measures in this bill.

What I think we are seeing here with Bill S-203 is the proper and necessary evolution of rights protections for animals in this country. It is a bill whose time has come. It is a bill I am very proud to support on behalf of my constituents and as a member of the government. I urge all members to do the same.

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

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 / 5:30 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.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-84, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting), be read the third time and passed.

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.

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—

The House resumed from March 18 consideration of the motion that Bill C-84, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting), be read the third time and passed.

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.

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 / 4:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, during the justice committee's study of Bill C-84, we heard evidence about a strong correlation between individuals who commit acts of bestiality and individuals who abuse women and children.

It was on that basis that I put forward an amendment at committee to amend section 160 to require that all individuals who commit acts of bestiality and are convicted under section 160 be required to register with the National Sex Offender Registry. I am very pleased all members of committee supported that amendment.

I was wondering if the minister could speak to that issue.

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 / 4:25 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.