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House of Commons Hansard #122 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was animal.

Topics

Forest ProductsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, indeed we are being proactive right now and we will continue to be so in a great many ways.

One example is that I was in Europe about 10 days ago on behalf of the Canadian forest sector. I met there with the EU and with certain member countries dealing with issues like recycling regulation, wood packaging regulations, certification of standards and so forth, all to reduce market barriers and problems.

A strong and factual message about sustainable forest management in Canada is eagerly sought after in Europe and very positively received. We need the facts to back up our case. We continue to be aggressive in telling our story, and we will do that.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Derrek Konrad Reform Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister likes to quote from old letters. He has written a few letters himself over the years. We have obtained the letter that the Prime Minister wrote to the Lubicon band just before the 1993 election. In it he said that the government should act swiftly to settle their land claim.

Today the Lubicon are so sick and tired of waiting that they are setting up a reserve right on the front lawn of parliament. The promise that the Prime Minister made in 1993 was never kept. Why did he make it? Was it just a political promise to win an election?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Kenora—Rainy River Ontario

Liberal

Bob Nault LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, as we sit here today the negotiations are ongoing with the Lubicon.

I also want the member to know that it takes other partners to come to the table to help solve issues that relate to the Lubicon and that in particular is the Alberta government. We are now negotiating with the Alberta government on land quantum.

If the member wants to be helpful, now that this will probably be his last question in the House since he lost his nomination, I would think that maybe he would want to help us with the issue of making sure Alberta deals with its land quantum.

Gasoline PricingOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian government is dragging its feet and refusing to introduce effective short and long term solutions in the gasoline price crisis which is affecting carriers and citizens alike.

My question is for the Minister of Industry. Are we to understand that the government's behaviour in this crisis has nothing to do with the fact that it itself holds shares in Petro-Canada, one of the three companies controlling 75% of the refining and distributing market? In other words, is it not in conflict of interest?

Gasoline PricingOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, no, not at all. The government is a very small minority shareholder in Petro-Canada.

We have indicated that we will dispose of that holding at the appropriate time, when it is in the best interest of taxpayers to do so, but there is absolutely no conflict of interest in the government on that point.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill said that seasonal workers already earn a comfortable annual income. Since the vote on my Motion M-222, nothing has changed with the employment insurance program.

Does the Prime Minister share the view of the Canadian Alliance member? If not, what is he waiting for to make the changes he is advocating to help Canadians? As far as I am concerned, whether it is the Canadian Alliance, the Progressive Conservative or the Liberal Party, there is no difference at all.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, clearly the hon. member thinks that the only solution for seasonal workers is more employment insurance.

As I have said time and again, if we find there are indications that we can be more efficient with employment insurance and that changes are necessary we will make them.

It is not that nothing has changed. The Minister of Labour and I have visited his community. We have community organizations working diligently and finding successful their work in providing and creating new opportunities for work for seasonal employees. I wish the hon. member would put some focus on that.

EducationOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Dubé Progressive Conservative Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister responsible for Infrastructure said that the government priority was with water and air quality. She deliberately left out post-secondary education.

Why does the minister ignore the report by the Canadian Association of Universities and Colleges saying that there is a $1.2 billion need for urgent repairs to universities? Will she put that money into educational infrastructure now?

EducationOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, I remind the opposition member that, if we have an infrastructure program for municipalities, it is because the Federation of Canadian Municipalities asked for it, and so did the premiers of every province in Canada.

In that context, the government made it a priority for the whole country to have basic infrastructures that allow us to improve water quality and air quality for our fellow citizens.

I do not deny the fact that there may be other needs but, at this time, this is the priority that is—

EducationOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for York South—Weston.

PenitentiariesOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Independent

John Nunziata Independent York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the solicitor general. What is happening in federal penitentiaries is unconscionable.

Clifford Olson raped and murdered 11 Canadian children. Yet while in prison he was able to have access to child pornography. He was able to enter an international poetry contest. Now we learn that he has been able to apply for and is receiving federal GST rebates.

Will the solicitor general immediately look into Mr. Olson's activities and put an immediate stop to this nonsense?

PenitentiariesOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that the offender is in a maximum security institution. I will look into the question my hon. colleague has asked me.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of Sir Philip Bailhache, Bailiff and President of the States of Jersey.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-17, an act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals, disarming a peace officer and other amendments) and the Firearms Act (technical amendments), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2000 / 3:05 p.m.

Reform

Dave Chatters Reform Athabasca, AB

Madam Speaker, I sat and listened to my colleague make his speech on the cruelty to animals act. He raised what I think was a very legitimate concern of cattle owners about protecting the age old practice of branding, dehorning and vaccinating cattle.

In the midst of his speech we heard the backbench heckling on the other side of the House, in particular the member for Bruce—Grey. That was interesting because Bruce—Grey is one of the greatest cattle producing areas of Canada. It is well renowned for feedlots and for the raising and producing of cattle.

It is curious the member would not come forward to debate the issue in front of the microphone. Far enough from the microphone he insisted that the act provides protection for cattle producers against prosecution for cruelty and pain inflicted upon animals during the dehorning process.

Since my colleague made the presentation I obtained a copy of the act and reread it once again. I have read it several times, but I read it again in an effort to find where, even in the vaguest sense, there was some protection provided for the agricultural producer as the member suggested. I have not been able to find even the slightest or vaguest reference. I do not believe that reference is there.

Would the member comment on that and elaborate further on his concerns for the farmer and the cattle producer?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Madam Speaker, in the midst of all the efforts of the Liberals to jumble bills together and bring in different things the way they do, it is a bill that contains some really good stuff and some really confusing stuff. I have spoken about this in the past.

What they are doing is moving cruelty to animals out of civil law where it really belongs and into the criminal code.

These amendments would protect harvesters, cattlemen and other people who make a living raising animals. If these changes are not made, every law-abiding cattle owner and every law-abiding chicken farmer will be subjected to becoming a criminal under this act. That is the way it is. That is the way it exists in its present form.

They should do a little more thinking about what they have done by taking this out of the civil code and putting it into the criminal code. They should think a little more about the predicament in which they will put a lot of people. Instead of heckling so much, they should listen to what is being said. Then maybe they would not make the silly mistakes they constantly make.

I am beginning to think they are not mistakes. When one starts to jumble up an omnibus bill like this one, is there a purpose behind it? Is there a strategy? Or, is it just plain Liberal nonsense? I tend to believe the latter.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Jake Hoeppner Reform Portage—Lisgar, MB

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House to ask a short question of the hon. member for Wild Rose.

Seeing that he studied the legislation, I am wondering if there is any protection for the farmer who gets kicked by a milk cow or kicked in the teeth by a horse. Who is looking after the interest of the farmer and the protection of these poor people?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Madam Speaker, apparently, as I see it, humans are totally excluded from the bill. Having received the back hoof of a milk cow once or twice in my life, I know it is pretty painful. It could be classified as pretty cruel.

I know what my hon. colleague is thinking. The people in the business of raising cattle, sheep and livestock and dealing with other animals know the difference between cruelty and what is proper.

The government should not be so quick to draw up criminal code legislation that gives us the idea that farmers and ranchers do not know anything and therefore it is up to politicians in Ottawa to do the protecting. My goodness, with all the lawyers from Bay Street we are facing a real problem. I am not sure they know which end of a cow the milk comes out of.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Darrel Stinson Reform Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Madam Speaker, I listened to the speech of the hon. member for Wild Rose. He raised a very interesting point with regard to what happens in the House when the government decides to bring in a piece of legislation.

It has the habit of introducing a part of the bill, which really has nothing to do with the rest of the bill, for the House to vote upon. When we try to separate a bill it absolutely refuses to do it. This bill is another example of what happens. I would like the hon. member to comment on that if he could.

This piece of legislation deals with cruelty to animals. Another part of the same bill deals with disarming peace officers. In no way can I make sense of this at all. It seems that we are trying to lump the disarming of a peace officer with cruelty to animals. It makes no sense to me or to a number of people with whom I have talked. If the hon. member could comment on that I would appreciate it.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Madam Speaker, there is only one person who could possibly explain it. I would like to hear a simple explanation as to why a bill dealing with cruelty to animals would be incorporated with a bill that says it is against the law to disarm a peace officer. I fail to see the connection.

There has to be some reason. For the life of me, I cannot possibly think of what the reason would be. It makes no sense to me at all. I am sure the question being asked by millions of Canadians across the country is: Why would the Liberal government do this kind of a thing? There must be a political reason for it.

If the government is trying to boggle our minds with confusion, it does not have to try so hard. It has been doing that for many years. I hope the voters wake up and realize what kind of an outfit is trying to run the show.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Madam Speaker, the Edmonton max is real close to my riding. It is a couple of miles outside the boundary. I talked to one of the guards. He complained that their guns are taken away from them when they go into Edmonton on escorted leave with some of the very dangerous criminals.

It is curious to me that the same government that would take weapons away from the guards would make a law which makes it against the law for anyone else to take a weapon away from a police officer. I wonder if the member could comment on that.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Madam Speaker, it will not take long to comment on that. That is a very, very good point. The government has taken away the weapons from peace officers who are escorting criminals from one penitentiary to another and at the same time we are making a law that says it is illegal to disarm a peace officer. Maybe someone should charge the government. The Liberals are a very confusing lot and it is time to get rid of them.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-17, which I could not describe as complex, because it is fairly straightforward, but rather as a bit of a mixture, since it addresses several different things.

It is, of course, an omnibus bill but, with these, we are more used to having changes to a number of things that are somewhat interconnected. Here we have different things. This is not a bill that strikes me as problematic; I would say it is an improvement.

I will quickly go over the range of points addressed by this bill. I am going to focus on one point in particular, the one I find rather more important, requiring more reflection and attention.

As we have been hearing since this morning, Bill C-17 addresses a variety of issues, the main and most important of which as far as changes are concerned relates to cruelty to animals. Its main aim is to group together the present provisions of the Criminal Code under one new section. I believe that it is a worthwhile step forward in dealing with animal cruelty. Just reading the amendments, we can see that this government is attempting to make some innovations in this field and to update the situation.

Nonetheless, there are some weaknesses or flaws in the bill. Improvements would have to be made. I believe that careful attention needs to be paid to the innovations the minister wishes to make by introducing this bill. It gathers into a single bill the various offences to be found here and there. The government now wants to concentrate them, and that is fine.

In addition, the whole issue of disarming officers of the peace is contained in the bill. On September 1, I met in Halifax the Canadian Police Association. Naturally, this subject came up for discussion, and statistics were provided to me, but I had gathered a few of my own as a member of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

In the province of Ontario alone, over the past 25 years, some 22 police officers have been gunned down with their own weapon. At the moment, the measures in the Criminal Code do not satisfy the police community.

If the police support these amendments, I can tell you honestly that I will not do battle, because in the end we will no doubt support the way they are drafted. In any case, we support the aim, which is to make disarming an officer of the peace an offence.

Then there is section 214 of the criminal code on illegitimate children. I could not believe that in the year 2000 we would find this in the Canadian criminal code. In my view, children have not been illegitimate for a long time. I would go so far as to say that there is no such thing as illegitimate children, since the child is the product of the mother and the father, and that is the way it is.

Therefore, I fully support the amendment in this omnibus bill to delete the expression illegitimate child which, in any case, should never have appeared in the criminal code. But at one time that expression reflected the moral standards of the day.

This omnibus bill seeks to increase the protection granted to extremely vulnerable people in society, namely the disabled, against sexual exploitation by adding a new category to the list of offences targeted by special evidence rules.

We must salute and, more importantly, support these amendments, which seek to help crown attorneys, among others, collect evidence to build solid cases.

Because the political will was there to amend some legislative tools to help collect evidence under certain circumstances, to help crown attorneys build solid cases, the Minister of Justice found a way—and I congratulate her—of bringing in amendments to the criminal code to facilitate the work of crown attorneys in the collection of evidence.

I am convinced that, in her department, and I am sending this message, there are public servants who could find an effective way to fight organized crime, to help crown attorneys collect evidence to build their cases and to provide them with all the necessary legislative tools.

In this bill, the minister shows her interest for a group we must protect, namely disabled people and those who are more at risk of being abused, people who may be less able to communicate evidence for reasons of accessibility and other reasons. It was therefore important and appropriate for the minister to include these changes in her omnibus bill.

Finally, I do not intend to revisit an old issue here, but Bill C-17 proposes significant changes to the Firearms Act regarding the issuance of licences for handguns to employees and storekeepers. These amendments in the omnibus bill are very understandable. This is not very complicated. The purposes and the objectives of these amendments are understandable.

I cannot get too fired up about Bill C-17 because basically these are acceptable provisions that we must look at carefully. However, I do not give my blessing to all these amendments. Some serious work will have to be done, and that is how we have always proceeded in the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. We will have to examine each of these amendments to the criminal code closely, because I think that they will very definitely have repercussions. The part of Bill C-17 which has perhaps got people talking the most, which has captured their interest, is the first part, which deals with offences under the heading of “Cruelty to Animals”.

Upon reading the bill, I immediately had certain questions and concerns. I listened carefully to the explanations from the government side. I can say that, on the face of it, my many questions have not been answered.

Nor are the minister and the government members answering the questions that legal specialists, farmers or industries that work with animals have with respect to this part of the bill. This entire section will have to gone over very closely in committee.

As far as the bill's provisions relating to cruelty to animals are concerned, there are some arguments on both sides. I will try to summarize them, and to reach a conclusion at the end.

Legally speaking, there is recognition of the importance of readjusting the provisions of the criminal code, but it seems the legislator has yielded to pressure from the animal defence people, imposing penalties that are judged too severe. This is a legitimate objection, looking at the penalties imposed on offenders.

The Barreau du Québec has issued an opinion on this part of the bill. It finds it shocking and inappropriate that these new provisions are to come under part V of the criminal code, “Sexual Offences, Public Morals, Disorderly Conduct and Cruelty to Animals”, because there is a risk of reducing the importance of offences toward people.

The Barreau du Québec calls for the creation of a specific statute apart from the criminal code, or at the very least that these offences be grouped together in a specific section of the criminal code.

I believe that the objective of the Barreau du Québec is to ensure that the criminal code, which is relatively easily followed by an informed reader at the present time, does not become any more complex than it already is. Hon. members will note that I have said “an informed reader”. This is certainly not as easy a read as a novel, but there is a certain logic in the criminal code, in its structure and in the sentences, the way sentences are determined and so on. Adjustments would have to be made, but that logic would have to be retained. I think I am echoing the Barreau du Québec's position by saying that perhaps these offences ought to be grouped together in a specific section of the criminal code.

A reading of the bill will show that a definition of “animal” is given. I heard a member of the Canadian Alliance answer another member's question as to whether or not humans were covered by this law. This was not covered in the definition of animal, at least I hope so.

The definition satisfies the legal world. It is fairly clear. One wonders why the legislator put it in subclause (8) at the very end of the definitions. The definition of an animal should be put at the very start, ahead of the consequences of cruelty to an animal. This is normally the way it works; the definitions are at the start of a bill. I see no reason why it should be otherwise in a specific section of the criminal code.

This section should start with the definition of the word “animal” before proceeding to the heart of the matter, that is, who commits an offence, how it is committed and what are the offences involved, as in the bill.

The Barreau du Québec also said that the important point with this bill is the one concerning the means of defence made available to offenders. Lawful excuse, as provided in paragraphs 182.1(1)( c ) and 182.1(1)( d ), addresses concerns expressed by the animal industry, namely the context of an experiment or an accepted industry, be it for profit such as a slaughter house or recreational such as hunting.

However, having heard certain comments by the animal industry, we do not think this bill addresses their concerns. And rightly so. I will come back to this a little later on in my speech.

There is a new provision regarding the offence of failing to provide adequate care. Even the legal experts think that this offence should be dropped from the bill, because it is not based on any tangible evidence and thus runs counter to the spirit of the criminal code.

With no material evidence to go on, it will be very difficult to prove this offence beyond all reasonable doubt. Given the legal principle that there must always be a point to what lawmakers say—when I refer to lawmakers, I am of course not referring to the Minister of Justice—this means that if we include in the criminal code a provision for which it will never be possible to produce tangible evidence, we will never be able to use this provision, and lawmakers' work would be pointless, which goes against a basic legal principle. The House knows what I mean.

As for the reception of the legal community, it is quite favourable. The animal industry, however, has some serious questions. It feels that the earlier provisions in the criminal code have not really been reproduced, and that there are loopholes. Amendments should be made to the legislation to better serve this industry, whether it be lucrative or recreational in nature.

Some hon. members have referred to the farmers in their ridings. There are farmers in my riding also, and even wild animals in captivity. There are, of course, questions to be raised with regard to this bill.

The bill could easily be improved, if there were a certain political will. It is not a bill, at least as far as the Bloc Quebecois MPs are concerned, that will have us tearing out our hair if the wording is not the same as in the criminal code.

The purpose of the bill is to improve and to update the approach being taken to animals, compared to the practice a few years ago. Hon. members will understand that the minister cannot be asked to reproduce word for word what was in the criminal code. It is being changed precisely because it did not correspond to everyday reality.

Nevertheless, there were certain things in the sections they want to do away with, including subsection 429(2) which refers to legal justification or colour of right to justify certain actions by the owner of an animal. These are not carried over into Bill C-17; there is nothing like them.

There is reference to “lawful excuse”, but this is very broad. How are the courts going to interpret “lawful excuse”? As legislators, we must provide the courts with as much guidance for their interpretation as possible. We are not doing our job properly if we leave things the way they are. I believe what we mean by “lawful excuse” needs to be clarified.

We have heard some of the major questions raised by owners. Is the practice common among farmers with horned animals of removing the horns of the beasts considered to Cause an animal “pain, suffering or injury”? Would the courts interpret it this way? This is not clear. The government should be clearer in its legislation.

For example, those who raise animals of prey trim their beaks, others cut the tails of certain animals. Does this come under the offence of causing “pain, suffering or injury?” Doubtless it does not. I think we should not give the courts any room for interpretation. Owners and farmers are quite right to have reservations, doubts and questions about these problems.

There is also the whole issue of researchers who use animals. People may oppose this, but medicines have been developed as the result of testing, in a prescribed manner, I concede.

We already have a code, which could perhaps be better structured, be better tracked to see what is done in the industry. Nor can animal research be completely prohibited and certain possible justifications for the people who are going to use animals not included in the bill. Thought should also be given to all the organizations for the defence of animal rights. I think that everyone is aware of their perhaps extreme position, but on the other hand, there are researchers who use animals.

There is also the issue of criminal intent. I believe very sincerely that there should be more clarification on this in the bill.

All this is to say that we support the spirit of the bill, but a fair balance must be found between the purpose of the legislation and its usefulness. This is not the first bill the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights will be considering in order to find the fairest possible solution. Once again, it is not a very controversial bill as far as the Bloc Quebecois is concerned.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Reform

Leon Benoit Reform Lakeland, AB

Madam Speaker, I think it is important that I rise today to speak to Bill C-17. First I will talk a bit about what the bill includes. It is one of those omnibus bills which includes things that should never be grouped together. I encourage the government to decouple the issues in the bill so that we are dealing with like issues only in one particular piece of legislation instead of such wide ranging issues.

In the bill we have issues ranging from cruelty to animals to disarming a police officer, to a whole group of miscellaneous issues including those under the Firearms Act. They are completely unrelated.

When many of us came here in 1993, particularly those of us in the Reform Party which is now the Canadian Alliance, we expressed concern, and we have expressed it many times since, about omnibus bills and the need for decoupling unrelated issues so that we could have debate on the particular issues before the House and could vote on a bill without having to vote against a bill because we could not support one part of it when there may be other sections that we fully support.

The government uses this tactic. The intent is to make it difficult for opposition members to vote against a bill because parts of it are difficult to vote against. This tactic is not reasonable for the government to use. I request that it break the bill down into three or more bills so that we could deal with it in a reasonable fashion and have debate on related issues. The most important part is that we could vote on issues that are at least in some way related. Unfortunately that is not the case with this piece of legislation.

When we look at Bill C-17 it is hard to disagree with its stated intent, the main part of the bill, cruelty to animals. How many people would not support a piece of legislation which in a reasonable fashion protects animals against abuse? I do not think we would find one member of any political party in the House who would not support that. That is not the issue when we are dealing with this bill.

There are some areas of concern in the legislation. One part of the bill is the disarming of a police officer. I think we would find very wide support in the House for that portion of it. With some changes I think we would find that almost everyone in the House would support that portion of the bill. I cannot speak for everyone else, but that is what I have heard from the debate so far and from speaking to some people from other parties regarding the legislation. I think there is pretty wide support for that part of the bill.

There is an issue in the miscellaneous section which I think has been overlooked and to which we must pay attention and speak on today. I am referring to the issue of once again having the government expropriate property from Canadian citizens with no compensation. There is a section in the bill which does exactly that. It will expropriate property and cause people to destroy property so that it is worthless, with no compensation.

That stems from a deep rooted problem in the country that Canadians do not have the right to own property. There is nothing in the constitution that says Canadian citizens have a right to own property. It is an issue to which we have spoken many times since we have been here. I think it is an important issue to raise again.

It is all wrong. It is part of what is wrong with the species at risk act. In that piece of legislation property can be expropriated from citizens. The use of property could be denied. There may or may not be any compensation, but certainly the minister has made clear that under that piece of legislation there is no guarantee of fair market value compensation. It has been made very clear that there just will not be fair market value compensation.

In the species at risk act the problem arises from the fact that we do not have the right to own property enshrined in the constitution. It comes to the forefront. That is a big part of the problem in that piece of legislation, as it is in this one. I certainly cannot support that part of the legislation. I just do not believe it is proper for a government to expropriate property from individuals without fair market value compensation. That is exactly what would be done in the miscellaneous section of Bill C-17.

We have heard a Bloc member of parliament speak to the disarming of a police officer to some extent. Others will speak and have spoken to that issue, but I want to focus on the part of the bill that deals with protecting against animal cruelty. It is very clear that probably there is not one member in the House who would not agree that we want to protect animals against abuse.

Many of us have pets. I am in Ottawa almost half the year. When I came here in 1993 my family replaced me with a miniature schnauzer named Lady. My family figured it was a pretty good deal, which kind of concerns me. The Liberals think it is a pretty good deal too. She is just such a sweet little dog, sometimes. Our family loves her dearly.

Many people have pets they feel that kind of attachment to. Who would not want legislation to protect against abuse of our pets and of animals we feel are very important to us. That is not the issue.

The issue is that in this piece of legislation there are flaws which have led to a concern expressed by hunters, anglers, farmers and ranchers in particular. I will refer to legal opinions which people from all these groups have obtained from their lawyers on this issue. They are concerned that as the legislation is written now it could harm farmers, ranchers, hunters and anglers in their activities. I will refer to that real concern.

Before I read from the first letter which mainly concerns farm animals, I would like to talk about the care farmers and ranchers take with their animals.

I have had neighbours on the farm who have complained that their wife or husband, the person who looks after the animals, cares more for the animals than they do for their spouse. That is kind of a farm joke. At calving time farmers are out there watching to make sure their animals give birth safely. They are out there in the middle of the night checking to make sure that calves are not lost, frozen or harmed in some way.

Farmers and ranchers take good care of their animals. Of course that is how they earn their living and there is a monetary reward for doing a good job, but also it is just because they care for their animals. They genuinely care for their animals.

I must express concern when we have a piece of legislation that seems to ignore that fact and does not seem to recognize that a vast majority of farmers and ranchers do an absolutely wonderful job. The last thing they would want to do is to inflict any kind of pain on their animals or to allow pain to be inflicted on them. Yet farmers and ranchers once again have to defend themselves against a piece of legislation put forth by the government. Bill C-17 could interfere in the way they look after their animals. That is a concern.

I am going to read from some documents. The first is from the county of Vermilion River No. 24. That county is very close to where I live in east central Alberta. The area has a very large number of cattle and other farm animals. Enough farmers and others have talked to the councillors about this legislation that they have taken the time to write to the minister about this issue. I was at meetings with the council on a couple of occasions where this issue was brought to my attention. I brought it to the attention of our caucus and members of other parties as well.

I am going to read the short letter from the county of Vermilion River to explain where it is coming from on this issue. It reads: “The County of Vermilion River No. 24 Agriculture Service Board recently reviewed the proposed changes to Bill C-17, under section 182 animal cruelty provisions. The Agriculture Service Board understands that the intent of the changes of Bill C-17 is not to alter the animal care practices currently being used by livestock producers throughout Canada. Presently livestock producers operate lawfully under a vast array of federal and provincial laws, regulations and voluntary codes of conduct. The County of Vermilion River No. 24 Agriculture Service Board does not condone the mistreatment of animals. However, the current wording of C-17 could put livestock producers involved in legitimate and lawful livestock production at serious risk of criminal prosecution. The County of Vermilion River No. 24 Agriculture Service Board would ask that amendments be made to Bill C-17 which would ensure the protection of law-abiding livestock producers from unfair criminal prosecution. The livelihoods of Canadian livestock producers are at stake”.

The letter is signed by the reeve of the county, Peter Green. He also includes a legal opinion on Bill C-17, particularly dealing with the livestock cruelty provisions. It is an overview of their concerns. The briefing document, which includes comments from the legal opinion, was sent to the Minister of Justice.

The risks of the bill are listed. It states “leaving aside the government's best intentions, if Bill C-17 is left as it is”, and therefore they acknowledge that the government has the best of intentions in this regard. They believe that, as do I. Leaving that aside, they said they have concerns about the risk to farmers, hunters, anglers and other people.

Farmers risk criminal prosecution for such common practices as dehorning, beak and tail trimming, castrating and hot iron branding given in the wording of 182.1(1)(a).

Meat plants which engage in religious slaughter risk criminal prosecution for not stunning livestock prior to killing, according to the wording. The second concern is slaughter for religious purposes and the process that must be followed to respect those religious beliefs. They have a real concern about those not being upheld as a result of the bill.

Biomedical researchers in food, cosmetics, medicine and chemicals risk criminal prosecution from procedures which result in any pain or suffering according to the bill.

Anglers risk criminal prosecution for even putting a worm on the hook as a result of the changes in the bill.

Hunters risk criminal prosecution for wounding or using a bow. Likewise trappers risk criminal prosecution for using live holding traps as a result of the legislation.

Those are the risks listed in the legal opinion. It is a long list. Practices which are considered to be perfectly normal could be altered and could be forced to be set aside as a result of the legislation. I do not think that is the intent the government had.

I am asking the government to look at these concerns and to fix the legislation. We will be more than co-operative in that regard. These concerns have been sent to the minister. We sent proposals to the minister. Several people have sent proposals to us which have also been sent to the minister. We do not want to make a political issue out of this. We want it fixed. That is why I am taking this very co-operative approach.

I do not want to go through all the other concerns that are listed. I believe that the concerns of farmers and ranchers certainly in our part of the country as expressed are legitimate. I think they have accurately identified real problems with the way the legislation is written. The legislation has to be either set aside or amended so that the hardship that could be forced on ranchers, farmers, hunters, fishermen and other people can be taken into account.

That is the letter from the county of Vermilion River. I will not read through all of these documents, but I want to read portions of a letter and a background document including a legal opinion sent to me by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. This is not just a western Canadian problem; it is a problem right across the country. Farmers farm and ranchers ranch right across the country, but people also like to hunt, fish and take part in other activities which have been generally considered to be acceptable.

I think a lot of Liberals would find those activities to be acceptable. If they do not, then they should state that. They should say no, they do not agree that people should be allowed to hunt. They should say no, they do not agree that people should be allowed to trap. They should say no, they do not believe that farmers should be allowed to do things with their animals which they normally have done in the interests of good animal husbandry. If they do not believe that, they should come out and say it. If they do not believe it is right for certain religious groups to kill livestock in a way that is laid out by the religion of those groups, then they should come out and say that.

If it is not the Liberals' intention to interfere in normally accepted processes, then they should say, “Okay. We have made a mistake. We have a bad piece of legislation here, so let us fix it up”. That is all I am asking.

I really do not think this should become a political ball that we throw back and forth. There should be co-operation on this issue. There is certainly co-operation from me and members of my caucus. I think members of the governing party will show the same kind of co-operation in this case. This issue is not one which would favour one political party over another. We are trying to protect the very people who could be harmed by the legislation should it pass.

I want to refer briefly to a couple of the things the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters put forth in its letter. The letter states in part: “Make no mistake, an outspoken national animal rights organization has labelled Bill C-17 revolutionary and as such, Canada is poised to elevate the interests of animals in the law. The justice department officials themselves have recently made remarkable claims that the current law recognizes animals' interests. Let us repeat some of our major concerns on C-17”. There are three concerns listed in the letter. “There is absolutely no need to move cruelty and care provisions from part XI to part V of the criminal code”. I agree. It is important to note that moving those from part XI to part V gives animals a status that somewhat equates to people. I do not think that is generally accepted by Canadians.

Madam Speaker, I see you are indicating that my time is up. In summary, my family and I love our little dog Lady, and many times when we watch her play and interact with us we wonder just what she does know, but we do not believe that she equates to a human.

I have a concern when a piece of legislation appears to somehow equate a pet or other animal to a human. I agree with so many groups that have written to me saying that we must change that, put it back to the way it was. Let us work in a co-operative way to fix this legislation.