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House of Commons Hansard #197 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-15b.

Topics

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Canadian Alliance Selkirk—Interlake, MB

It sounds like you have a lot of cruel people in your riding.

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Steve Mahoney Liberal Mississauga West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I took on the individual and he in turn sued me. Even a director of a humane society has no right to inflict pain on an animal that needs to be euthanized through the proper procedures by experimenting with a shotgun which turned out to be the most inhumane way. That was one of the most atrocious things I have ever seen in my 25 years in elected office.

We have to ensure that kind of thing stops. The bill goes a long way in ensuring that without offending or hurting farmers and without hurting research companies, it ensures the protection of animals in this country.

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to split my time. I would like seven minutes for myself and three minutes for my colleague from Yorkton--Melville.

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It would be correct to split the last 10 minutes into two five minute periods without consent but because of the configuration he requested, the member for Kootenay--Columbia requires consent.

Does the member have the consent of the House for his proposal?

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out to the Liberal members that the Liberal government is clearly aware of the fact that, unlike the representations that have been made by my friends in the Liberal party, there are problems with the bill that require amendment.

In spite of that we are being asked in this House of Commons, and they are being asked by the justice minister, to proceed at third reading for this to proceed to the Senate.

I remind everyone in the House that we have gone to the people of Canada and, through a democratic process, have come here through that democratic process, through our constituents voting for and against, as representatives of the people of Canada. It is therefore our responsibility to be making law.

I underscore that because I have a news release under the name of the member for Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey. It states:

Liberal Rural Caucus Chair is asking members to support the government's cruelty to animals legislation on the understanding that the bill can be amended in the Senate.

In other words the Liberals know full well that the bill is deficient and has problems. Otherwise why would the chair of the Liberal rural caucus be putting out a press release saying to members in the backbenches that they should vote for and support the government's cruelty to animals legislation on the understanding that the bill could be amended in Senate.

What that means is that there is an abdication of responsibility by the Liberal backbenchers who know full well that the bill is flawed and would create all sorts of hardship for farmers and other people who are involved in the husbandry of animals. They know that would be the case, but they receive this bleak assurance that all will be made right when it gets to the Senate. What kind of an abdication of responsibility is that on the part of members who went to the people of Canada to be elected to come here?

Indeed, what are some of the problems? The most egregious problem is that the government has entered into a brand new piece of legislation instead of making minor amendments to the current cruelty to animals act and the attendant criminal responsibility. Instead of simply making sure that there is proper enforcement of the penalties of the existing legislation it has gone to a whole new act and we do not what the unintended consequences would be.

I will again read into the record comments from animal rights activists. These are the people who farmers and ranchers, the people who have legitimate right to own animals, are concerned about.

Lynn Manheim, a columnist for Letters for Animals said:

Ultimately there can be no real progress until society undergoes a paradigm shift, a new way of looking at the world which opens the door to new systems and interacting with it. We have seen most strikingly with the women's movement, language plays an essential part in such a shift. Establishing legal rights for animals will be virtually impossible while they continue to be called and thought of as “its” and “things”.

Alan Berger, executive director of the Animal Protection Institution, said:

Society's perception of animals as property must be changed before legal rights for animals can be established. The time is right to make such a change.

We note that this amendment would remove animals from the property section to an undefined section within the criminal code. That is precisely what Alan Berger would want. Here is another one:

Just as we have moved beyond “owning” people after the Civil War, we now need to move beyond “owning” animals, who deserve a far greater understanding in our society than simply being treated as property or things.

The final quote is from Jane Goodall of the Jane Goodall Institute:

In the legal sense, animals are regarded as “things”, mere objects that can be bought, sold, discarded or destroyed at an owner's whim. Only when animals can be regarded as “persons” in the eyes of the law will it be possible to give teeth to the often fuzzy laws protecting animals from abuse.

We do not have any idea where this brand new legislation is going to take us. It is for precisely this reason that I implore the Liberal backbenchers to wake up and smell the coffee. If they have not figured out that the bill has the potential to be very serious within their own constituencies and within rural Canada, then there is probably no reason to talk to them. I know that 50 or 60 of them have figured it out, but now they have this rather weak response of “Oh, well, we will correct it when it goes to the Senate”. That is not good enough.

I implore the Liberal backbenchers to do their job, to stand up for the rural people of Canada and to vote against this legislation.

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActGovernment Orders

6:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Canadian Alliance Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that because of closure or time allocation we have only a couple of minutes left and I cannot raise many more issues. I am going to go quickly through a couple of things.

First I want to reply to the previous Liberal member who spoke. I think he has a great misunderstanding of the issue or has no comprehension at all of what this legislation has the potential to do and how it will affect many farmers, especially in my riding. He used the example that there is a lot of pressure coming from people on the front lawn of parliament and from e-mails and phone calls pressuring him to pass the bill, to invoke closure to get it through the House.

He has no idea how strapped farmers are for money. They cannot afford to travel 2,000 miles to stand on the front lawn here and lobby the government. Instead they go through their members of parliament and tell those members what they think about this. That is why the vast amount of mail that we get is in opposition to this.

If the government understood the farm crisis and the fact that farmers cannot stand here on the front lawn and lobby the government, it would know why there are not a lot of farmers in their faces here. That is the reality of the situation. That is a very poor excuse for pushing the bill through parliament.

I want to zero in on something that I raised this morning with the minister and did not get an answer to. The minister said that there is nothing to fear in this legislation. I immediately asked him, if there is nothing to fear, would he commit to funding the legal defence of farmers, ranchers, hunters, trappers and others who have used traditional practices for years and years. I asked him if he would commit to defending them when they are hauled into court by these huge international lobby groups that have the big bucks to charge these people and use this legislation to go after people who cannot afford to defend themselves.

The minister refused to commit any funds to help defend poor farmers who cannot afford to come here or go to court and defend themselves. They are afraid of this legislation. When the minister says there is nothing to fear he does not put his money where his mouth is and make this fair. That is a huge concern to me and that is one reason why we should stop this legislation right now.

We need the minister to publicly state that the normal traditional practices will be defended, that farmers who are very apprehensive and cannot afford to take on these multinational lobby groups will be helped in their defence of traditional practices. The minister did not do that and that is one reason why this legislation should not see the light of day.

I also want to point out that the member from the Liberal Party who just spoke talked a lot about how when this goes to court and so on this will all be decided. That is the real fear that I and many farmers have: that when this legislation is passed and lobby groups begin to abuse their privileges with the amount of funding that they have, those people who legitimately use animals in pursuit of their normal activities will not be able to defend themselves.

The Liberals have divided society into groups. They pit one group against the other, urban against rural, as we pointed out in a previous debate, and there will be a lot of problems in the country. The Liberals will say when it comes to the courts “We passed the legislation and we are sure that the courts will make the right decision. It is in the hands of the courts. We have no control over this any more”. That is what they have done with many previous pieces of legislation and that is what they are going to do again.

I need a lot more time to go through the notes that I have here. It is unfortunate that I cannot because of time allocation. I wanted to deal with the Firearms Act with which there are a lot of problems. I have 15 pages of notes that I need to share with this esteemed assembly right now and I cannot do that. The Liberals have invoked closure. They do not even want to examine the Firearms Act and what a boondoggle it is. It is going to waste a billion dollars. The bill does nothing to correct any of the problems with the Firearms Act. It is what is not in the bill that is really the problem, which is that the Firearms Act as it presently stands ought to be to scrapped.

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 6.45 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, every question is deemed to have been put, and the deferred division is deemed to have been demanded and deferred until Tuesday, March 4 at the conclusion of oral question period.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to the question that I asked on May 23.

This question was in regards to the fishery in the Acadian peninsula. I mentioned that for a five year period, crab fishers had withdrawn from the solidarity fund for fish processing plant workers. I asked the Minister of Human Resources Development what she intended on doing, since there would now be a gap from June until August.

I think it is important to read what the minister said in reply. She said, and I quote:

Mr. Speaker, we are concerned as always when employees find themselves without work. In this particular case, however, I would remind the hon. member that we are working with community groups in his own constituency, looking at strategies to deal with the gap between employment from year to year.

I do not know if it is because I have not been present enough in my region in recent years—yet I go home every weekend and I speak with people there—but I do not know these groups. Nothing has been done in our region to try to come up with solutions to these people's problems. Nothing is being done on this.

The minister added:

—we transfer considerable funds to his own province of New Brunswick for use in precisely this kind of circumstance.

I am sorry to say that in New Brunswick they are not taking their responsibilities toward plant workers in our area, or in any part of the province. Whether it is men and women working in the fishing industry, or whether it is lumberjacks, the situation is the same.

I have a question for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources Development. Last week, I sent her a letter and today I personally gave her a copy. Is the Minister of Human Resources Development prepared to withdraw from this program with New Brunswick, since they do not want to take their responsibilities toward workers in our region?

They say that there are employment programs. Imagine this: they say that this will make people become dependent. What is the difference between a person who is working three, four or six months per year, and anaother who is getting welfare assistance? I would much rather see people being dependent on working than people being dependent on not working. The current attitude of the two governments is not right.

Since the Minister of Human Resources Development gave over $90 million to the provincial government, she should put her foot down and say “If you do not have a program for workers, we will withdraw from the joint program with you. You will no longer get the $90 million to play in future election campaigns. Instead, you will look after human beings, after men and women”.

Some people are in tears when they phone my office, because there is no longer any money coming in. These people are suffering every day.

I would like to hear the parliamentary secretary on the question that I asked on May 23. I would like her to tell us about the hardships that they are imposing on people back home and across the country with the gap that they created through the changes made to the employment insurance program.

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Laval West Québec

Liberal

Raymonde Folco LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I do not doubt the sincerity of the member for Acadie—Bathurst but I would like, if I may, to give a few details about the situation he is describing in his riding. It is a situation which exists not just in northern New Brunswick but in many areas of Canada.

Seasonal industries and jobs are important elements of the rural economy in many areas of Canada. We recognize that seasonal workers are in a special situation and that, in order to help them, the Government of Canada must work with various stakeholders.

This is precisely what the minister told the member in reply. These stakeholders obviously include not just the federal government but also provincial governments, including the government of New Brunswick, communities, businesses and workers themselves.

This is a solution which will make it possible to help workers in the long term. It involves not just employment insurance, but rather the creation of more jobs, which will mean that these workers will be able to work for a longer period of the year.

It also involves diversifying local economies and creating new opportunities. I will give a few examples, if I may. Human Resources Development Canada has approved a grant of $252,625 for the Comité d'adaptation de la main-d'oeuvre to help it come up with job-based solutions which will help seasonal workers in northwestern New Brunswick.

This is the area the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst comes from. I do not know why he has heard nothing about this committee. It most certainly exists. If memory serves, the committee even came to meet with members of the House standing committee on human resources development on a number of occasions. So this committee will receive $252,625.

In addition, there is a labour market development framework agreement between the government of New Brunswick and the Government of Canada. Under this agreement, the Government of Canada has paid out—it is not planning to pay out, but has actually paid out—$90 million to help the people of New Brunswick acquire job skills and find and keep work.

Under this agreement—I will get into some specifics here—the province has a responsibility to develop and implement local employment programs. The approach used by New Brunswick is based on developing long term job strategies. This is also what the federal government wants for seasonal workers.

Under the labour market agreement, the government of New Brunswick provides training and promotes the development of new skills. It also provides financial assistance to stimulate long term employment for the unemployed.

The government of New Brunswick also promised to subject labour market development agreements to detailed assessments. These are being made not only for New Brunswick, but also for a number of provinces. Several of them have already been released during the year. These assessments will help collect reliable information on the program's impact and effectiveness.

As a government, we have tried to help these people. The hon. member opposite forgets that a number of measures have been taken by the federal government. I will simply mention two: we changed the hours based system and we eliminated the intensity rule this year.

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, in case the parliamentary secretary or the Minister of Human Resource Development does not know, I am from northeastern New Brunswick, not the northwest. There are no programs for northeastern New Brunswick.

The federal government has done a flipflop and has given $1 million for the next three years to northwestern New Brunswick. This funding went to a committee which perhaps turned up 30 jobs, whereas there are some 400 to 500 people without work. That is what happened. This was a little patch-up job, a bandaid solution. That is all the government has done to keep people quiet.

I get calls from people in northwestern New Brunswick, in the Madawaska—Restigouche area, who have the same problem we do.

The federal government is washing its hands of what is happening in our area. People are calling us every day about not having accumulated enough weeks to qualify for EI benefits.

The federal government claims it is doing everything it can to try to create long term employment. But how? If it wants to shut down the fishery, let it say so outright. The crab fishery is finishing within a few weeks. What are the fishers going to do in July and August. What is the federal government going to do to help them? That is the question.

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval West, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think that the member opposite, despite his tremendous goodwill and despite the fact that he is very sincere, since it is indeed a very difficult situation, only listened to one half of my answer, and not the other half.

I said that under the framework agreement on workforce development concluded with the province of New Brunswick, the Government of Canada has invested more than $90 million.

I think that the member is knocking on the wrong door. I understand that he is a member of Canada's parliament, but it seems to me that he should be working with his provincial counterparts, the members of the legislative assembly of New Brunswick, to ensure that a part of this $90 is allocated to his constituents.

This is my hope. I think that he should try knocking at another door and working with his provincial counterparts.

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6.55 p.m.)