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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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Reform

Gurmant Grewal Reform Surrey Central, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise on behalf of the people of Surrey Central to speak at second reading of Bill C-17, the government's proposed changes to the criminal code and Firearms Act.

This is a non-partisan issue. I have only heard Canadian Alliance members one after the other address the issue. Not a single member from the government stood to address this important issue. Perhaps they are not concerned about it and that is the way it is.

In any event the bill has three parts. The bill will first of all make it a criminal offence for anyone to disarm or attempt to disarm a peace officer without that officer's consent. Our nation's police associations have been calling for this. We in the official opposition commend the government whenever it listens to Canadians, which of course is a very rare event. In this case we in the Canadian Alliance are proud to support Canada's front line police officers. We will support this part of the bill and will work with the government to have it passed into law.

The second part of Bill C-17 amends the Firearms Act by expanding the class of prohibited handguns that are grandfathered and modifies the employee licensing requirements. The refinements to the Firearms Act are pure and simple tinkering. They are only cosmetic changes.

The Canadian Alliance calls for a complete overhaul of the Firearms Act. We support the two amendments to the Firearms Act. However, if the government really wants to fix the Firearms Act, it will have to implement the over 200 amendments proposed by this side of the House at report stage and implement all of the amendments proposed by the standing committee on justice.

The third part of Bill C-17 is the Liberal government's proposed amendments to the criminal code, which will consolidate cruelty to animal offences. The Canadian Alliance is anxious to support measures that will protect animals in Canada. We Canadians love our animals, be they wildlife, pets, or birds, all of the little creatures that get cold and hungry in our winters.

In Surrey we have squirrels, alley cats, groundhogs, coyotes and birds in our neighbourhoods, co-existing with us. They make us and our children laugh. They tear at our hearts on a rainy day. We all feel sad, very badly indeed, whenever we hear about an innocent animal harmed by a human being. If it is an unintentional harm to an animal, we share the sadness felt by the person who caused the hurt to the creature, for that person feels very bad as well.

When a person is cruel to an animal, that person invites the wrath of the House and of all the powers we have in this place to come to the aid, the defence and the protection of our brethren in the animal kingdom.

On behalf of the people of Surrey Central, I am proud to participate in this debate to pass the part of this legislation that will fight cruelty to animals.

The weak Liberal government is proposing to place brutality to an animal, viciously killing an animal and abandoning an animal in one section of our criminal code. This bill proposes to no longer treat cruelty to animals as a property crime. The new provision will move cruelty to animals to part V of the criminal code, under sexual offences, which would be renamed “Sexual Offences, Public Morals, Disorderly Conduct and Cruelty to Animals”. Animal cruelty provisions are currently contained in part XI of the criminal code. These sections protect a person from being convicted of an offence if that person acts with the legal justification of excuse or colour of right.

Agricultural groups, anglers, hunters' groups and the Fur Council of Canada oppose moving the offence. These groups fear that by moving the cruelty section to sexual offences, they may be wrongly prosecuted. They argue that those who lawfully and legitimately harvest animals for businesses will not be protected if the cruelty section is changed.

The Canadian Alliance will be moving an amendment at committee stage to have animal cruelty provisions maintained in part V or to make the necessary changes to the criminal code to comply with the concerns of farmers, hunters, anglers, agricultural groups, the fur trade and others who harvest animals.

The Minister of Justice contends that individuals who conduct an agricultural business or one involved with animals are not affected by this legislation. The Liberals say that if one is not violating the criminal code as it currently reads in conducting their agriculture business, Bill C-17 does not change the way they conduct their business, whereas agricultural groups, the anglers, the hunters' federation and the Fur Council of Canada do not agree. They do not buy that.

Canadians are mistrustful of the Liberal government that has delivered so many broken promises such as the GST. A government is not judged by the promises it makes. Rather, a government is judged by the promises it keeps.

These Canadians, these fur traders, farmers and hunters, feel the bill goes much further than reflecting society's disgust with those who would abuse pets. They feel that this legislation is the precursor to further attempts to alter the way they currently operate their respective businesses. These three groups of Canadians have raised legitimate concerns about the impact the bill could have on their operations now and in the future.

I did my first degree, a B.Sc. in agriculture, with honours in animal sciences. From that point of view, I can understand their concerns. There is no reason why the Liberals cannot accommodate the interests of the stakeholders and the industry affected by the legislation. Why not?

The government should say what it means in its legislation. Canadians cannot accept that words in a media scrum or in regulations will take care of things. I have gone through a copy of the bill. It is only a few pages long but the regulations after the bill come as a big pile of papers. It is the regulations that control the intent of the bill. Sometimes the intent of the bill is different.

Canadians want clarity. Because these groups are concerned, the government should spell out for them in its legislation exactly what the government means.

Let me talk about penalties described in the bill. The bill raises the penalty for intentional cruelty to an animal from the current six months to five years. Also, the bill will lift the cap off the fine, which is currently $2,000. There is potential for a lifetime ban from owning an animal. Those found guilty of cruelty to animals would be forced to pay for veterinarian services to treat the animal. The bill acknowledges that animals have feelings and are deserving of legal protection from negligence or abuse. We hope that the new maximum five year penalty will be imposed. As in other instances, the minister has failed to put teeth in our law and propose minimum penalties. Hopefully the Canadian Alliance can have the Liberals fix this matter at the committee stage of the bill's progress through the House.

There is more work for the government to do. Like so many of their attempts to legislate, this is only half a job. They are botching the job. We want to support this legislation and at the same time we want it to be right. It is a good thing that we are here to hold the flashlight for this weak Liberal government that lacks vision.

The terms mentioned in the bill are not defined. The government, in one bill, is mixing various issues that do not have much correlation. The bill is like mixing apples and oranges. The bill is half cooked. It is like a bitter medicine mixed with a little sugar.

We will propose amendments during the committee stage that will attempt to clarify and bring consensus to the bill.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Reform

Gary Lunn Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member for his comments. We have concerns, but what about actual cruelty to animals? Could the member elaborate on where he stands with respect to animal cruelty? When animals are being injured in very inhumane ways, what does he think we should be doing in those cases?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Reform

Gurmant Grewal Reform Surrey Central, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. It gives me the opportunity to express how I feel about cruelty.

I am a person with a very soft heart. At home when I have some insects such as spiders or flies in the house, I take five or ten minutes to catch them, put them in a container, carry them outside and let them enjoy nature's freedom.

I am quite tough on the issue of those people who are injuring animals or inflicting pain on animals. It is fun for some people but that is not the way we in the civilized world should behave.

Again, in this bill the definition of cruelty is not mentioned anywhere. For example, with respect to those people who fish, probably in the view of other people they are causing pain and suffering to the fish they catch, as a fish is a living animal, but those people enjoy it. Other people are complete vegetarians who do not eat meat at all. Another extreme is those who butcher animals.

I believe cruelty is a relative term. For some people something is cruel and for others it is not, but if there were a Liberal member speaking on this bill I would stand up and ask what the definition of cruelty is in this bill. Also, there are so many other terms that should be included in this bill. The sad part is that the government members are not giving any interest to this. At this time there is only one member listening to this debate. I wonder why the members are not showing an interest.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

I must remind the hon. member that we do not comment on the presence or absence of members in the House.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Reform Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member for his views, because it is extremely difficult to find a line, on what we are going to have to do as legislators, between someone who is obviously cruel with a puppy mill or something, which most Canadians would clearly say is over the line, and the other side. On the other side, it may be a mousetrap, rat poison or an agricultural issue like the branding of cattle, which is a standard practice in the industry.

How does the member see us finding that legislative balance so that we end up with legislation that is firm and shows the legal system where we stand? If we leave it loose and open we know we are going to end up having the judiciary set the rules instead of Parliament. Perhaps the member could give us his views.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Reform

Gurmant Grewal Reform Surrey Central, BC

Madam Speaker, the hon. member's question is one that pertains to many other bills as well. Sometimes in the House we get one page or two pages of a bill. In this case, for example, we have only two pages of the bill, or if I may say so, maybe about eight pages of the bill. Certain things, which become very important, are not defined at all in the bill. No line has been drawn as to what means what, as to what the terms and conditions are. The government leaves it for interpretation either by the judiciary or in the realm of regulation.

I am chair of the scrutiny of regulations committee and I can tell the House that the regulations put forward by the government are a big mess. Some of the regulations that should not exist today have been in the pipeline for 25 years. Those regulations violate the terms and conditions of many issues. They should not exist.

However, those regulations continue because from time to time we and the committees have been stonewalled by the ministers, the departments and the government.

I believe that Canadians expect much more clarity and precision from the government so that when a bill comes before the House it shows that there is something really concrete in it. It cannot mix apples and oranges as it has done in this one and it has not defined many terms, conditions and definitions in the bill.

I believe that that is the way this is going. It is very unclear and very unprofessional. It shows that the government really does not care about fixing things. Sometimes it just wants to get political brownie points and that is not fair.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

September 26th, 2000 / 4:15 p.m.

NDP

Louise Hardy NDP Yukon, YT

Madam Speaker, I want to take this chance to comment on this because in my riding the issue of cruelty to animals is the one which I have received the most mail on in my three and a half years as a member of parliament.

It is significant to mention that the letters are from trappers and hunters who support the legislation against cruelty to animals. These are people who have been targeted over the years and have been accused of cruelty and inhumanity. In fact, they are people who make their living in the most humane way that they know how and carry out their jobs in that manner. It is a very difficult living to make.

I also received letters of support for this legislation from other people. The thoughts that came through most clearly were people's true concerns that we use animals and take their lives so that we can live and eat, particularly in communities that live on a subsistence of hunting, fishing and trapping and when we do it that it be done with the regard for other lives in this world, not just our own and that people who live that way not do it cruelly and do it for reason. They also wanted people to know that they did not look at it as inhumane or cruel to animals.

I really wanted to bring it up because it is important to note that the support has come from young people, from old people, from first nations and from the conservation and humane societies in my riding.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Reform

Gurmant Grewal Reform Surrey Central, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a concern which is very near and dear to our hearts. We believe that humanity is one aspect.

I have been getting letters from my constituents as well. One was from a person who had been driving on a freeway behind a truck loaded with poultry. Some of the birds fell out of the truck, some had been put in small cages and it was hot. That was inhumane. We believe that is why we have this legislation.

We strongly believe in and support the intent of the government, but we are not comfortable with the way it has put things together in the bill.

I believe there is not one single Canadian who likes to see cruelty to animals. We all want the same thing. We want the objective to be achieved, but in a professional way so that we do not compromise the interests of our agricultural community, the animal husbandry community, the poultry farmers and other people who deal with animals on a regular basis.

The government should come up with a middle of the road approach whereby cruelty to animals is prevented while at the same time taking care of the interests of farmers, the agricultural community, hunters and others.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Reform

Gary Lunn Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to talk about Bill C-17, the cruelty to animals legislation. As stated before, there are three sections of this act which I will touch on briefly.

One section would make it a very serious criminal offence to attempt to disarm a police officer. I think all members in the House will support that. It is a very positive concern. There are some technical amendments with respect to the Firearms Act. Again, we have no problem with that.

I am very supportive of legislation that makes it tougher for people who are cruel to animals. I will raise a few concerns in a positive way.

I look back at an incident that happened in Victoria when I was elected as an MP. It outraged the entire community. My riding is Saanich—Gulf Islands which is very close to Victoria. In this case, a person had been following a vehicle that stopped at a red light. They say it was road rage, but for no reason he took a golf club and almost killed the dog in the back seat of the vehicle which was in front of him because the vehicle was not moving. It was tragic.

He was charged under the current criminal code section 445. I remember the public was up in arms. To the credit of Judge Higinbotham of the Victoria provincial court, I thought he dealt with the matter quite appropriately. It was quite a severe sentence. I believe, if my memory serves me correctly, it was something in the order of 18 months because that was not acceptable behaviour within our society.

I also acknowledge that in the current sections with respect to cruelty to animals under the criminal code, I believe there is lots of room for improvement. Section 445 is the relevant section where if somebody does injure dogs, birds and other animals that person is guilty of an offence punishable upon summary conviction.

The government has recognized that we can improve these. I question whether it is appropriate to move this cruelty to animals section from property offences over to the sexual offences section in the criminal code. I personally do not believe that is an appropriate move although it is not the end of the world.

A sexual offence is one of the most intrusive invasions into one's privacy that one could ever imagine. That section should be left as a very serious section. I am not minimizing this at all but probably a better way to have gone would have been to tighten up these sections on cruelty to animals in the property sections of the criminal code.

The government has selected to go this way. We have heard the concerns of some people. They are worried about people who are in the ranching and cattle industry. We have trappers, especially those people in the aboriginal and Inuit communities who live in the far north. A large part of their livelihoods is based on fishing. It is open for broad interpretation. I do not think anybody's intentions are misguided but there are some concerns as to how it will be interpreted at a later date.

If there is an opportunity, we will be putting amendments forward to hopefully tighten these up. I think it is in the interest of all Canadians. Quite often we see legislation that is left open and loose and is not defined as well as it could be. It ends in lengthy court trials, appeals which then go to higher courts to interpret the legislation. If we can do anything to rectify that before the legislation is passed that would be a positive step.

For example, there is the sealing industry. It has been open to debate for years. For sealers it has been their livelihood. It has been a way of life, both economically and culturally for a lot of people in Atlantic Canada. They use what is called a hackpic to club the adult seals over the head. Some might argue that would be a violation under this section of the act and some people would probably believe that it is, but there is lots of evidence to support that it is the most humane way.

As the member for Yukon stated, there are people from where she is from who are in the trapping industry. She stated that they try in the most humane way possible to carry out their livelihood and they have been doing it for years. We have to be cognizant of those situations.

There is room in the bill to make some of these improvements. I would have rather seen the sections that we are dealing with amending sections 444 to 446 in the criminal code, but that is not going to happen.

I want to impress upon people following this debate that it is an important piece of legislation. I am absolutely opposed to people who are unnecessarily cruel to animals. It is just not acceptable. It should be a criminal offence and people should be dealt with accordingly by the courts. That is not something that society is going to tolerate.

Possibly the concerns that we have will be addressed when we vote. To get some of these amendments through which we think will improve the legislation will be a positive step.

I am particularly pleased that the section on disarming a police officer is in the bill. I know some argue whether the two should be combined in one bill. I understand that. It probably would make some sense not try to combine everything in one bill rather we could have separate bills. I would have rather seen that section on disarming police officers with a lot of other sections in the criminal code which need improvement and which Canadians are waiting for, for example, property offences. There are many suggestions where we can improve on that.

Canadians are looking for changes to our criminal code where we put the rights of victims ahead of that of the criminals. There are many instances that suggest that we are not. I know the victims are very frustrated, threatened and feel they do not have a voice.

It is interesting that we are taking steps to make sure that interests of animals are taken into account and that we are bringing in tougher measures against people who are inhumane to animals. Again, that is a positive step subject to some of the concerns that we have.

It would have been much more acceptable had the government, since its election three years ago, chosen to deal with some of these other issues. We are in the process of debating the changes to the Young Offenders Act and will be voting on them very shortly. We are debating the Group No. 1 amendments at report stage. The government has done little more than tinker with the Young Offenders Act. It has done very little as opposed to its major overhaul of the section in the criminal code dealing with cruelty to animals.

I question the wisdom of the government on its priorities, which may be somewhat skewed, when it will not address these other concerns. We have put amendments forward to deal with these concerns. We think it will strengthen the bill. All members of the House, all 301 of us, are all opposed to cruelty to animals. All of us have heard horror stories. Society is not going to accept that type of behaviour and such people need to be dealt with.

It is to the government's credit that it has brought in the section with respect to the disarming of police officers. That is a very positive clause in the bill. Some may question whether this is the bill that it should be in, but regardless of that it has been brought in and I think that is a positive step.

Having said that, there are a few other areas that some of my colleagues have mentioned. They have done things such as imposing a lifetime ban on owning an animal. I guess that is subject to the interpretation of the courts. Some would question whether that is an appropriate use.

I want to say in the broadest terms that bringing in legislation that will let society and our courts be a lot tougher with people who are abusive of animals is a move in the right direction. There are some concerns. Hopefully they will be addressed and we can move forward, as we have some very positive amendments that will strengthen the bill, and not have to leave it to the interpretation of the courts at a later date.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for New Brunswick Southwest, CHST.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Madam Speaker, immediately prior to coming to the House I was on the telephone with some people in my constituency and I was rather surprised by their lack of information.

The bill has come forward at the will of the justice minister. It is a bill that has been before the Commons for a period of time. I have attempted to get some information out to people in my constituency about it. However it is probably indicative of the kind of process the government gets involved in quite frequently. It takes a look at its idea of what is required in terms of legislation and then proceeds to do it. It does not take the time or make any effort to make people who will be affected by the legislation aware of the legislation.

I want to deal with the cruelty to animals provisions of the bill primarily, but I would also like to comment on the fact that, as has already been said in the House, this is an omnibus bill.

I believe it was Prime Minister Trudeau who, at least in my time, was the first Prime Minister noted by journalists as treating the House of Commons in a perverse way, rather disrespectfully. To his mind, the House of Commons was a rubber stamp that was required in order for him to be able to come forward with the kind of legislation he wanted for the House.

Unfortunately, following Prime Minister Trudeau and then through Prime Minister Turner, the new member for Kings—Hants, the former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and now the current Prime Minister, we have a continuation of the process. The bureaucracy, perhaps pushed by its perception of public opinion, and the cabinet, perhaps pushed by its perception of public opinion, although mostly rounded out and buffeted by the concept of political correctness, end up coming forward with pieces of legislation that in their judgment are essential.

This is, as I have stated, an omnibus bill. An omnibus bill basically combines all sorts of unrelated provisions. The only relationship the provisions in the bill have to one another is that they happen to come under the control of the justice department, hence the justice minister. That is the only connection between any of the matters in the bill.

Let us presume we have some serious concerns about the provisions of the cruelty to animals portion of the bill, I in particular, representing a dominantly rural constituency. We have agricultural producers who are involved in raising cattle and all sorts of other livestock. We have poultry farms and dairy operations. In addition, as it happens, I have probably the best big game hunting, certainly in North America if not in the world, in my constituency, it being right in the core of the Canadian Rockies.

There is a lot of concern on the part of people in my constituency, whether they are directly involved in the business of agriculture, where they are directly dealing with domestic animals, or whether they are hunting and fishing guides and people involved with animals in that way. With that as a background, let us presume that there are some concerns. I will be relating some of them in just a second.

It is difficult enough for a member representing a rural community such as I do, Kootenay—Columbia, to try to send a message to the Canadian people. I have given up long since trying to send a message to cabinet, because it does not listen anyway. I will try to send a message to the Canadian people, either through the broadcast of this debate or to those people taking the time to read Hansard , about the difficulties there are from an urban-rural perspective. That is difficult enough.

Then we have the complete disregard of the parliamentary process, which was started by Prime Minister Trudeau and continued through the successive prime ministers. We have the situation where governments then bring forward pieces of legislation such as the business about the removal of a peace officer's firearm and so on and so forth.

Who in the world could not support that? We look at that provision of the bill and say to ourselves “Are there not an awful lot of other provisions with respect to firearms and peace officers that we could be addressing in a more substantive way than the tinkering that is going on in this bill?” The provisions in the bill with respect to the firearms of peace officers are certainly supportable. It is just regrettable that the bill does not go far enough.

As long as there is the disregard of the government for the opposition and for the parliamentary process, as long as there is a continuation of this attitude on the part of the present Liberal government that treats the House of Commons as a rubber stamp, basically a situation is created of it being exceptionally difficult for an official opposition that is attempting to be responsible in bringing representations and concerns of their constituents, and indeed all Canadians, to the Chamber. It is exceptionally difficult for us to be able to make any separation or distinction between these two parts of this omnibus bill.

This is not picking fly droppings out of the pepper. This is not trying to get down to the minutiae. This indeed is a fundamental problem with the government, in continuing the policy of treating the House as a rubber stamp for legislation that they in their wisdom have crowned and anointed and that has come from the bureaucracy.

That having been said, let us look at the provisions with respect to the criminal sanctions for actions against animals under the cruelty to animals part.

I have a summary from some people in my constituency who have looked at the bill. They have, for example, a concern about the definition of animal. The department argues that providing a definition where one does not currently exist will provide a narrower definition and at the same time provide added clarity. The new definition would include non-human vertebrates and all animals having the capacity to experience pain. The concern of some of the people in my constituency is that this marks a significant change by adding animals not traditionally considered under the law.

The clarification could cause enormous problems by extending criminal law to animals, including but not limited to free ranging wildlife, invertebrates, and cold blooded animals such as fish. Coupled with the move out of the property section, including a definition will serve as a first step in elevating the status of animals and giving all animals a standing in law. This indeed is new ground. This indeed is new territory for us to be going into.

We have taken a look at this piece of legislation, and as with virtually all the pieces of legislation the Liberals have brought forward in this parliament, there is one egregious flaw. The egregious flaw in virtually every piece of legislation the government brings forward is that there is not a sufficient preamble. If there were a sufficient preamble we could then work on the issue of parliament defining for the courts what is actually intended before this gets into a court of law.

I have many other concerns with the bill. I look forward to the bill going to committee where I hope many of the concerns of people such as my constituents can be brought forward. I hope the bill, which presently is just too broad-brush, will be able to be refined and defined. I also hope the government will take the time, energy and effort to see that people who will be affected by it are given more information.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Reform

Rick Casson Reform Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, we have heard quite a bit today, but I would like to ask my colleague from Kootenay—Columbia to elaborate a little more on one of the issues he touched on, the issue of the rural-urban split that seems to be part of the cruelty to animals legislation.

The parts of the legislation that deal with the disarming of a police officer and some amendments to the gun registry are things we can all support, but the fear that there is a rural-urban split, even if that does exist, should not be there. We must realize that there are codes of practice by which our livestock producers live and have lived. There are no better tenders of animals than they are because their livelihood depends on taking good care of the animals they raise for food for the rest of the world.

As we went through this process, quite a few letters supporting the bill came in from the SPCA organizations in different cities. We were also drawn to the other side by people in the agricultural community who were concerned about some of the aspects of the bill that could harm their practice.

Does the member feel there is a way the bill can be adjusted that would appease the concerns of the people on both sides of the issue? Certainly anybody who harms an animal should face full consequences, but is there any way we can make this work to keep both sides of the argument onside on this issue?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to deal with the member's question in two parts. First, with respect to the rural-urban split, hard to believe though it may be, there are three, four, five, and six year old children in Canada who have never walked in a garden, have never seen carrots grow and have no idea where they come from, have never seen tomatoes grow and have no idea where they come from. All they know is when they sit down at a table with the food in front of them, there is a hot dog and there are buns or whatever the case may be.

The reality is there is a lack of understanding. I do not believe at all that it is an intentional lack of understanding, but there is nonetheless a lack of understanding by people who have not been involved in any way, shape, or form with the agricultural industry, whether it is fruit and vegetables or animals. There is a complete lack of understanding, a disconnectedness, in society. People simply do not understand where the food on their plate comes from.

On the vast majority of farms, farmers clearly understand the animals. The animals are not only their livelihood. They are the protectors. They are the people who are working with humane practices. It is those people who are most concerned about the bill because it has such a pet implication as opposed to a domestic animal implication or connection.

To answer the second part of my colleague's question, that is indeed what we are involved with in parliament and within the parliamentary process. When we get into committee we will have an opportunity to hear that. I would hope that the committee looking at this will take every opportunity to have input so that we make sure that the people who know and respect the agricultural animals they are tending will have an opportunity to have input into this bill.

I am sure that it would not be the intention of the government or any other government to see criminal sanctions against people who are in the business of rearing and slaughtering livestock so that we can indeed have food on our tables.

As I say, I am looking forward to hearing about the committee process. Certainly I am hoping the government is going to have a very broad brush so that we do not end up with a pet mentality applied to farmers.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Reform Kelowna, BC

Madam Speaker, in the introduction to my speech, I would like to read the title of this bill so that everybody who is listening recognizes exactly what we are up to here. Second, I will look at exactly what the implications are.

The act is entitled “An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals, disarming a peace officer and other amendments) and the Firearms Act (technical amendments)”. Here we have a bill with very far-reaching implications.

If we look at the summary of the bill, we will recognize that the bill has indeed moved into areas that are very far-reaching and have implications not only for the present generation but also for generations to come. For instance, it amends the criminal code by:

(a) consolidating animal cruelty offences into one section and introducing new offences for brutally or viciously killing an animal or abandoning one;

(b) creating an offence of disarming, or attempting to disarm, a peace officer; and

(c) making a number of technical amendments.

The intent being envisioned by the summary and also by the title of the bill clearly invokes and evokes a certain empathy. There is not one of us in the House who would not find ourselves very much in sympathy with and in support of what the bill is purporting to do.

In the introduction, I would suggest that the bill is rather far-reaching. In fact, many people would label a bill of this type an omnibus bill. An omnibus bill suffers from two kinds of characteristics. First, there is too much in it for people to really understand it all. Second, it is too general in some of its indications, so not enough attention has been given to clearly define or to give clear direction to what is intended. My hon. colleague talked about a preamble; in a bill like this one, a preamble is doubly important. Third, in certain other areas the bill is a little too specific in that it does not allow flexibility, which might otherwise be the case.

In principle, the bill is sound. Who in his right mind would not want to live in a society that is peaceful and orderly? Who in his right mind would not take offence that anybody should even dare to disarm a peace officer? Clearly we would not want that to take place. This bill brings that particular thing into focus by saying that it is a criminal offence and should not be tolerated in society. I think we would all agree with that. I certainly do. That principle is sound.

The other part of this legislation goes to the punishment of those who would cruelly use or abuse animals, both pets and other animals. I do not think any one of us would say that we are for being cruel to animals. Of course we are not. We do not want to be. It is ridiculous to even suggest that there are other creatures on the face of the earth and one of our purposes is to be cruel to them. We do not want to do that. This bill makes that a criminal offence. That is good. We can support those kinds of things.

Then we come to the business of saying that disarming a peace officer becomes an indictable offence and if that is the case then under certain conditions there will be an imprisonment of up to five years. When it is a summary conviction, which in technical jargon is slightly different, the maximum punishment is 18 months.

The big issue here is that it is a punishable offence and people who do these kinds of things ought to be treated with that kind of awareness.

There is another principle involved here. If we as a society want to live a peaceful, ordered life we must have people who from time to time protect us against those who want to disturb the peace, who do not want to have a decent lifestyle and want to interfere with ours. We need to equip these people. We need to protect these people. We need to give them the background and the information so that they can indeed provide for the peace, order and good government that we all want so much. I think we would all support this provision in the bill.

When it comes to the other part, the amendments to the firearms legislation, we ask ourselves, what is all this? When we analyze what the amendments are we discover that they are all very technical and could almost be interpreted as being cosmetic in nature. There is not much to offend there. However, the question then becomes, how will that actually change anything?

I guess it is necessary in certain cases because there is a grandfathering of certain things here. There is the training of employees who sell handguns. I think that is all very good. One could argue that it is just plain common sense. I guess the Liberal government thinks that common sense is so rare that it has to write it into legislation. If that is the case, then it is a good thing it is in here.

The other part of this, though, leads to something that I cannot resist. I must refer to the Liberals' Firearms Act, which they introduced here some time ago. It came in the form of Bill C-68. That particular piece of legislation is so badly flawed that if they really want to make a difference what they should do, at the minimum, is to take our 200 amendments that we proposed at report stage and implement them. That would help make the legislation a little more meaningful.

Mr. Speaker, you know, the Minister of Justice knows, the Prime Minister knows, the RCMP knows and all the police officers know that particular piece of legislation is not working. It has not reduced violent crime. It has not come even close to being a reasonable implementation scheme. Already $328 million has been spent. We were told it was going to cost less than $100 million. It is well over three times that number now. We have to take a very caustic look at that particular piece of legislation.

I would suggest that we really have not given the firearms legislation appropriate attention in the provisions of this bill. In fact, we could go even one step further. Police associations in Canada are considering withdrawing their support for the legislation. So with regard to this piece of legislation and putting this little cosmetic change in there, while it does not cause us any problem, it does not deal with the more serious case of the firearms legislation.

I want to turn my attention to the provisions in the bill with respect to cruelty to animals. I want to focus on two particular aspects of this part of the legislation.

First I want it clearly understood by all persons in the House listening to me now that we really want to support the idea that people who are wilfully cruel to animals should be punished severely.

However, what the bill proposes is that it should delete from existing legislation the words “wilful neglect” and “marked departure from the exercise of reasonable care”. When a person wilfully neglects an animal, that is being cruel to that animal. If that individual does not take reasonable care of an animal and departs from reasonable care, and does so in a very marked and obvious way, such a person should, in my opinion, be very severely chastised. No, they should be punished. This bill does that, but by removing words like “wilful” and “marked departure” it creates ambiguity and lack of clarity and allows for interpretations that really give inadequate direction to the people.

The other one has to do with “wilful” and wilfully being cruel to animals, directly. I know some young people who do terribly cruel things. I once saw this happen and it was awful. They wanted to kill this kitten. They put a string around its neck and threw it from the top of a barn and let it hang there. That is wilful cruelty and that should be punished.

There are penalties in this act, and I think the penalties show the severity with which we will consider these particular acts.

If we are really going to get serious about this, we have to recognize that certain amendments are necessary. As this bill now goes to committee, there are certain amendments that I would certainly encourage the Liberals to consider at that time. We will be moving an amendment, for example, to have animal cruelty provisions maintained in sections 444 to 446 or to make the necessary changes to proposed section 182.1 to comply with the concerns of farmers, hunters, agriculture groups, the fur trade and others who harvest animals. This falls outside the things that we talked about just now. We need to bring those things in so that it is clear and specific and all people understand.

Second, in another example of an amendment, we will be moving an amendment at committee stage to ensure legitimate individuals involved in animal operations are not unduly subject to criminal intent.

These amendments, and there will be others, quite a few of them, are necessary to make this bill do what it is intended to do.

I commend the Liberal government for the intention of its bill, but I would also remind it that we all agree on what should be happening here, and with the best of intentions, even a good bill can be improved by bringing certain amendments to it, which the official opposition will present. I would encourage the Liberals to please consider those amendments so that we can all live together in greater peace and harmony and have legislation that is even better than that which they have presented to the House.

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4:55 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was very interested in the comments of my colleague. Of course we are coming at it from very much the same perspective.

One of the things that seemed to be of greatest concern to the people in my constituency was the issue of the potential for there to be nuisance prosecutions.

For example, I have never been to a branding, where you bring in all of the calves from the range around May or so. There is really quite a wild event that goes on there. There is not only branding of the cattle, but the male species of the animal also undergoes another process that they probably are not all that crazy about.

There are all of these things that go on. In taking a look at some of the irresponsible actions that have been perpetrated against the people who are involved in responsible resource extraction and management, such as people in forestry and logging and that kind of thing in the province of British Columbia and indeed all across Canada, and some of the nuisance prosecutions that have actually occurred, whereby people who have been protesting have used every possible means to put over their particular point of view and perspective, I wonder if there is not the very real possibility that because of the apparent lack of definition within this bill we could end up with these kinds of nuisance prosecutions.

We could end up with that in regard to people who are deriving their income from providing an exceptionally valuable service to the people of Canada by providing us with the livestock that becomes the bacon, the roasts of beef, the hamburgers, whatever the case may be. As we take a look at that process and at there being some nuisance people, might that not in fact be a concern that we really should be focusing on, particularly when this goes to committee?

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5 p.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Reform Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for raising that very valid issue. I did not raise it in my major remarks because I did not have time to do it. It gives me the opportunity to address the point of bringing together the urban-rural split to which the member alluded in his earlier remarks.

A number of pet owners say that they fixed their cat or dog. We know exactly what that means. This is precisely the same thing the member alluded to in his remarks. There is a distinct possibility of nuisance lawsuits, criticisms or whatever to be fostered. The act should be clear enough so that those nuisance assaults on the freedom of an individual, or whatever we might call them, are addressed and clearly taken outside the cruelty to animals provisions within the act.

That is exactly what our amendments will try to do. It would bring those kinds of issues to the attention of the government so that it could create legislation with which we can all live and actually make society better.

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5 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Kelowna raised an very interesting point. Someone was telling me a couple of days ago when we were discussing this issue that people could not believe that calves would be castrated without an anaesthetic.

On the other hand people who are in the business very clearly and specifically understand how totally ludicrous it would be to administer a form of anaesthetic in the situation they are in, what would happen, and the havoc it would wreak in terms of the management of livestock. Clearly we are dealing with an egregious urban-rural split in understanding.

I am sure my colleague would agree with me that it puts all the more emphasis on the committee process to ensure that people who are at the committee have an opportunity to present both sides of the story. In addition, the government should undertake a very strong communication policy so that people understand what it is all about.

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5 p.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Reform Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, once again I find myself agreeing with my colleague. I would add one other dimension to it. I am referring to the process that is being used by the government to almost make the committee non-significant. The legislation has drawn to the attention of the House the real significance of the committee.

We will be proposing some very substantive amendments to the legislation to uplift the importance of committees in the House and parliament. As a consequence, if the government will take that advice, the committees will feel good. Members in those committees will not have to whine like they did in the National Post this morning, and we will be able to live in a better world.

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5 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, I will stick pretty close to my text so it will not be as entertaining as some of my speeches. We are speaking to Bill C-17. It is an omnibus bill, basically a bill encompassing many acts in the one bill. That is obviously problematic for many members because if we disagree with one aspect of the bill we are labelled as disagreeing with all of it. That is not our position as a party and I will be able to lay that out in some of my remarks.

Bill C-17 is an act to amend the criminal code, cruelty to animals, disarming a peace officer, other amendments, and some technical amendments to the Firearms Act. It is very far ranging and there is no linkage between any aspects of the bill.

In the justice department review of 1998 a consultation paper entitled Crimes Against Animals was distributed to allow groups and individuals to suggest modifications that would be required to deal effectively with cruelty to animals.

The reasoning was that animal abuse is now recognized as a common symptom of a deeper mental illness. Mounting scientific evidence links animal abuse, domestic violence and violence against people. The public has been calling for more effective federal legislation to deal with cases of cruelty to animals.

There are numerous examples of cruelty to animals. Several high profile cases, some of which have been mentioned already in the House and in the newspapers, happened this year. A year old rottweiler dog was dragged on a chain behind a pickup truck until its paws were torn off and bloodied. Also in May there was a case of a little pet pomeranian which was locked in a room. This small dog was kicked, punched, thrown against a wall and placed on a gas barbeque possibly while it was still alive.

Those are the types of horrific crimes we are hearing about more frequently. The perpetrators were young offenders, identities protected unfortunately. Currently in such cases an offender would receive only six months in jail or a $2,000 fine and a two year ban on having animals. Who would know what young offenders would get? Maybe a slap on the wrist.

We still hear many cases of animal fighting, competitions for gambling purposes and greyhound dogs that are bred for racing but killed once they become too old. Questions are being asked. Is there any protection for those animals?

The justice minister has explicitly linked animal abuse to rape or child abuse citing U.S. studies which point out that those who torture animals were more likely to do the same to humans. The case we have often heard is that of Jeffrey Dahmer who brutally dismembered and even practised cannibalism on his many victims. He abused animals as a young boy.

For these people increased sentences and fines are a good idea. We have to send a message. Depending on the charge, the sentence could be anywhere from two years to a maximum of five years imprisonment when the crown proceeded by indictment, or six to eighteen months imprisonment and a fine of not more than $2,000 when the crown proceeded by way of summary conviction.

Presently the court could order prohibiting the accused from owning an animal or having custody or control of an animal. In Bill C-17 the court could also prohibit the accused from residing in the same premises as an animal. The maximum length of prohibition would also be changed from a maximum of two years to any period the court felt appropriate. In the case of second and subsequent offences it would be a minimum of five years.

In a further change the accused would pay reasonable costs incurred to take care of the animal. Payment could be made to any individual or organization that cared for the animal. It would include such costs as veterinarian bills and other shelter costs if they were obtainable.

There are other positive steps in the bill. We need to study the bill very closely at committee stage. We will be doing that through our justice critic to be sure that we do not criminalize, and this is important to remember, farmers, hunters, trappers and fishermen engaging in their way of life. Presently the bill is too loosely worded and our party cannot support that aspect of it. We have to tighten up the wording in that respect.

Under the proposed legislation farmers feel they could be prosecuted for common practices such as branding or dehorning cattle, an accepted practice in the beef industry. This is very problematic. Some anglers are convinced that fishermen could be charged for simply hooking a fish under the proposed federal legislation. This problem has to be addressed and hopefully will be addressed at committee stage.

The Canadian Jewish Congress has expressed worry that Bill C-17 might interfere with ritual Jewish slaughter methods. Biomedical researchers are worried that their work may lead to criminal prosecution as well. Some of these groups have requested that the language in the legislation be clarified. They are concerned with possible interpretation of phrases such as unnecessary pain, suffering or injury and brutally or viciously killing an animal.

They want protection for practices such as identification, medical treatment, spaying or neutering; provision of food or other animal products; hunting, trapping, fishing and other sporting activities conducted in accordance with the lawful rules relating to them; pest, predator or disease control as we would not want to throw someone in jail for shooting a rat; protection of persons or property; scientific research unless the risk of injury or serious physical pain is disproportionate to the benefit expected from the research; and disciplining or training of an animal.

Our party position is clear that legislation is needed to punish those who intentionally abuse and neglect animals. Let us be sure of that. However, in targeting those who intentionally cause animal suffering, the legislation also leaves at risk those who practise traditional occupations such as farming, hunting, fishing and trapping. Those of us representing rural areas of the country can certainly relate to that.

We support other aspects of the bill. We recognize that the legislative section to protect against cruelty to animals is noble in its intention. This oversight makes Bill C-17 ineffective and dangerous to law-abiding citizens. Therefore the bill, if it remains in its current form, will not be supported by our party. We want some tightening of the wording.

The government has been scrambling to assure hunters and farmers that the bill is not intended to target them and that they need not worry about being jailed for their standard practices. However the current wording of the bill is too loose and criminal prosecution of members of virtually all animal related professions is a very real legal possibility under the provisions of the bill.

The existing legislation forbids the wilful causing of unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal. The proposed bill would remove the word wilful. This change would make prosecution easier, putting livestock farmers at risk for carrying out their normal business.

In addition the criminal code currently prohibits unnecessary pain, suffering or injury of animals. With one of the new animal care provisions, however, conviction is called for when there is any pain, suffering or injury. The proposed change reveals unreasonable expectations. It is impossible for farmers, or animal producers more generally speaking, to protect their animals from any pain or injury. Additionally it is unacceptable to place farmers, hunters or trappers at risk of prosecution if any pain or injury occurs.

I believe legislation is needed to prevent needless animal pain and suffering. The graphic illustrations of animal cruelty I mentioned earlier should not be tolerated. The law should explicitly protect animals from this senseless violence. The traditional practices of hunting, fishing, farming, et cetera, do not fit into the category of meanspirited violence. It is imperative that animal cruelty legislation be clearly designed to target only those who would engage in brutal actions against animals.

The justice minister has been contemplating an amendment that would exempt farmers, hunters and animal researchers from the bill. A change is certainly needed to provide legal security to lawful practitioners of animal related professions.

When one considers a genuine need for clear progressive legislation in this area, the carelessness of the Liberal government is dismaying. It is disheartening. It is obvious that little consideration was given to the effect the bill would have on many honest hardworking people who depend on farming and similar occupations for their livelihood. It is reminiscent of many pieces of legislation the government has put through. Not much foresight, work or consultation with the community has gone into it.

It is also discouraging that the government's lack of foresight could cause this bill which deals with many other issues to be opposed due to loose wording in the part dealing with cruelty to animals, hence our opposition to these omnibus bills. They are very problematic.

Instead of contemplating its actions fully from the start the government chose to proceed with a sloppy piece of legislation. Now as it is exceedingly clear that the original plan was inadequate, the government wants to retrace its steps. Had it been more conscientious at the beginning, this repetition would have been avoided. Time and money have been squandered as a result of the failure of the government to consider the needs and wants of Canadians on this issue.

Having grown up on a farm in New Brunswick has given me a great respect for animals but also a respect for farmers, hunters and trappers. For that reason I am anxious to see the bill go to committee where our justice critic will have a chance to force the government to redraft the cruelty to animals part to ensure that it will be an effective deterrent to those who would be unnecessarily cruel to an animal.

In its current form the loose wording of the bill could make unwitting criminals out of hunters, fishermen and farmers. We will not support this part of the bill because of this loose wording.

Disarming a police officer is another part of the bill of which we are very supportive. The offence of disarming or attempting to disarm a police officer is a proposal initiated by suggestions by the Canadian Police Association at its annual general meeting a year ago. We need to send a strong message to the public. Serious danger to police officers will not be tolerated when they are deprived of their weapons as they carry out investigations to make arrests.

The new section would define “weapon” for the purposes of subsection (1) as any thing that is designed to be used to cause injury or death to, or to temporarily incapacitate a person, including firearms, pepper spray, et cetera. For a hybrid offence, there is a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment when the crown proceeds by indictment or a minimum of 18 months imprisonment when the crown proceeds by summary conviction.

The president of the Canadian Police Association, the organization that initiated the process leading to the proposed offence of disarming a police officer, has stated that the members of the association “welcome the introduction of this new law and encourage its speedy passage by parliament”. We are very supportive of that.

The government could do more for police, including providing funding and the resources they need to do their job. However, this is a step in the right direction at very little cost to the government to help protect the police so they can protect us, the public.

There are other amendments to the criminal code. The definition of “child” in the criminal code section dealing with offences against the person and reputation is repealed. The current definition defines child as including an adopted child and an illegitimate child. The amendment would remove the negative and unnecessary reference to “illegitimate child” in the criminal code. We support that.

Sexual exploitation of a person with a disability is added to the list of other criminal code sexual offences for which there are special evidentiary rules. A person with a disability who was the victim of sexual exploitation would receive the same evidentiary protection as afforded to other victims who testify at a trial.

There are technical amendments to the Firearms Act. I think the government is backpedalling on this. Our position is very clear. The government botched the firearms legislation from the very beginning in basically attempting to make criminals out of law-abiding Canadians.

Our party would certainly repeal Bill C-68, the unnecessary licensing and registration of firearms which again relates to those very sectors we talked about earlier. Our position on that is very clear.

Again it is a case of the government bringing in very sloppy legislation, not knowing what it was doing. Instead of addressing the criminal element, which it could by putting resources into the RCMP and other police forces to help them do their jobs well and effectively, it has targeted the innocent law-abiding Canadian. Therefore we are opposed to that legislation. We were opposed to it in 1997. We still have huge reservations on the firearms legislation and we would repeal that. We would kill it or change it and revert to what we used to have. I think our position on that is pretty clear. We would repeal that legislation.

Some of the amendments to the Firearms Act are being called technical amendments. These amendments are being brought in because the government is attempting to backpedal on that very onerous piece of legislation which was called Bill C-68 in the last parliament.

Our position is clear on Bill C-17. Our justice critic has led the charge for our party on this very issue. Our party looks forward to making interventions at the committee stage. We hope that the government will listen and bring in changes that will allow the legislation to be fixed up so we will not be putting an unnecessary burden on our hunters, fishermen and farmers.

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5:20 p.m.

Reform

Maurice Vellacott Reform Wanuskewin, SK

Madam Speaker, I wonder if the member from the maritimes could indicate specifically how the bill would impact his riding and the people throughout his riding, particularly in the area of the amendment regarding cruelty to animals. I ask the hon. member to give us some examples of its impact.

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5:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative Charlotte, NB

Madam Speaker, we could let our imaginations run wild. For example, when anyone in the beef industry processes an animal or slaughters an animal, it could be interpreted under the bill as being cruel to the animal. Not all of us are vegetarians, and I mean no disrespect to those who are, but certainly the harvesting of meat, if you will, either by hunting or raising beef, is big in my riding. It is a rural riding.

I also mention fishermen. When we did our research on that legislation, the example of baiting a hook was used. The worm will be subjected to a lot of cruel punishment by keeping it on the hook. What is the correct method of pulling a fish out of the water? Obviously this could be interpreted as unreasonable punishment or cruelty to the fish.

Those are extreme examples, but the truth is that the wording in the legislation is not tight enough or correct in terms of interpretation. People could have a lot to worry about unless the bill is changed. Those are very specific examples.

There are mink ranchers in my riding as well. That is something that industry has had to watch very carefully over the years. Even though it is not fashionable in some circles, it is still an industry. We all wear leather shoes for the most part.

Those are all examples where legitimate businesses could be threatened under the legislation as it is now proposed.

We look forward to our justice critic driving home some of those points at the committee. We hope the government will listen and change those specific areas of the bill where it could impede on citizens' rights to make a living, whether they are fishermen, farmers, trappers, et cetera.

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5:25 p.m.

Reform

Rick Casson Reform Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, I would like the member to comment on the same question I asked of someone earlier.

One of the problems with this issue is that a bit of a rural-urban split has been created. Certainly we all believe that anyone who is cruel to an animal should face the full force of the law. Possibly anyone who does should never be in control of another animal in his or her entire life. However we have been talking a bit today about the balance between the agricultural sector and the food producers, the need to protect animals, and the outlook that people who live in urban centres have toward some of this.

I believe a lot of what we need to do is in educating the two sectors so that people understand where their food comes from, how it is raised, the code of practices that people who work in the livestock and food industries work under and how careful they are with their animals.

I would like the member to comment on what angle he would take on the education that needs to take place in Canada.

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5:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative Charlotte, NB

Madam Speaker, that is a very good point. Some of us are so accustomed to going to the grocery store that we think beef is raised in the store and comes in nice, neat little packages. Education is a big part of it.

Sometimes I am amazed at some of the animal rights people. One example which always comes to mind is when Brigitte Bardot shows up on the ice floes of Newfoundland trying to kill the seal industry. She is always wearing a fur coat and $5,000 alligator shoes. I often ask is that not a double standard?

In all seriousness, part of this is educating our young people about our custodial relationship with animals and the beauty of taking care of them, how important they are and how important some of these industries are. Good practices are taking place on our ranches and farms to ensure that animals, God's creatures, are being treated in a very humane fashion, but it must be understood that they are a food source as well and do serve a purpose on this earth of ours. In almost a spiritual sense, it very much is that education should take place and it has not up to this point.

I thank the member for the question. It is a very good point.

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5:25 p.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Reform Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I asked this question earlier of another member.

The difficulty we as legislators have is in trying to find the balance. Under this legislation we could have one side, for example puppy mills which I think most Canadians would say is certainly not on, however we go to the other extreme which is a mousetrap. How do we as legislators find that balance in this legislation so that we protect one side but do push the legislation too far in the other direction? How does the member see us striking that balance?

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5:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative Charlotte, NB

Madam Speaker, it is an old fashioned word. Mark Twain often said there is nothing wrong with using a 10 cent word when there is no need to use a 25 cent word. It is common sense and practical solutions where we engage the public in the process.

One of the shortcomings of the present government is it has not engaged the public in this. There is a balance between what we want to see done and limits on the other side. In all practical terms, most Canadians know where that line is. I think we as legislators do.

What we are not seeing from the government is the practical reality that this has to be something we can all live with at the end of the day. The term I used in my remarks earlier was carelessness. It is just an example of the government waking up one morning, getting out of bed and saying “Listen, let us bring in some legislation that will deal with this” but it is not applying a common sense approach to it.

I would say they probably have too many people penning this legislation in their ivory towers, people who have never been on a farm, have never fished and have no understanding of what it is like to live in some parts of the country where that is done for a living.

It is not unlike a lot of the legislation that has come to this place from time to time as a result of acting in haste and acting in a way not consistent with good government, and certainly not consulting with the people. Again, it is a good question, but it is that balance that governments have to strike, and it is usually done in consultation and in working with the opposition parties, which obviously the government has not done on this piece of legislation. It has basically left it to the bureaucrats to craft it, and this is what we are left with.