Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether to say that I find pleasure to speak to this bill. I certainly support the concept of not being cruel to animals. Having suffered a little pain in my life and extrapolating that to the ability of animals to feel pain, absolutely 100% we should not impose on animals any pain that can be avoided. That should be true for human beings as well.
However I have great concerns about the bill because of the implications of it in the long term and the effect it will have on a number of different portions of our society. I am thinking particularly of the agriculture industry which is very large.
It just so happens that it is impossible to go through life without pain. I read an interesting book a long time ago and even now as I speak I am thinking that I should reread it. The title is, The Problem of Pain , by the writer C.S. Lewis.
He contended that pain is a valuable mechanism that is built into the body of all human beings. If it were not for pain, we would not go to the doctor when we have something wrong internally. If I had something wrong with my chest but could not feel the pain, I would carry on until I keeled over one day.
The fact is when there is something wrong and it generates some pain, it is a positive thing for survival. That is true for all creatures. Pain can be a mechanism prompting one to take corrective action for something that is ailing one.
Another aspect of pain is that it is used in the training of people and animals. Sometimes the pain is temporary. I contend that we ought not to have pain of the sort that causes permanent psychological damage for humans or for animals. It is a straight psychological fact that to train animals, occasionally one has to apply a bit of gentle pain as a disincentive while on the other hand giving a reward as a positive incentive.
Any person who has ever had a dog knows that if we want to avoid the pain of continually having to clean up after the little puppy, we have to go through a process of training. In that process a little pat on the side, enough to cause that puppy to think that it did something wrong, is not damaging. It is a small amount of pain and is used to train the animal.
I do not have a dog in my house at the present time but I have I observed some of my friends who have had them. The dogs they love the most and appreciate the most are the ones that are properly trained, the ones that are house trained and trained not to jump all over people. I do not know how others feel, but I do not appreciate it when I walk into a house and a big great dane greets me at the door, puts his feet on my shoulders and licks my face, especially when I am wearing my Sunday suit. A dog that wags its tail at a five foot distance, I like a lot. I do not like a dog that when I reach out to pet him he snarls and bites my hand. I like a dog if he is friendly because he will have been trained. That is one aspect of it.
We ought to be very careful about legislation like this because of the implications it can have. Some organization or do-gooder can come up and say “I saw my neighbour punishing his dog. Throw the book at him. He was cruel to his animal”. I do not think we want to get into that type of thing.
There is another thing and it has to do with the agriculture community. I have a great number of farmers in my riding, which is a combination rural and urban riding. Many of these farmers have animals. I have a number of poultry operators in my riding. It is really quite a sight to go into one of those huge 200 or 300 foot long barns where the whole floor is covered in little chicks and they are all singing in chorus. They get their food and their water.
There are several operations, but the one I am thinking of is a quite a big operation with several people working there. People go in there every day and check these little creatures to see if they have any physical ailments. I will not go into graphic details of one of those ailments but anyone who has ever raised little chicks knows that it has to do with the gastrointestinal system and they have to be watched so that they survive.
I am impressed by the fact that people produce chickens so I can go to the chicken place and have a chicken dinner once in a while. They are in the business of raising these chickens. They care for them probably as well as many people care for their children, if not more so. I am distressed by the fact under this bill someone could come along, launch an attack or a lawsuit, charge them in court and say that by keeping these chickens in these great big long sheds is cruel. They will be harassed, taken to court and incur legal expenses to defend themselves.
This is something that farmers right now, very frankly, do not need. They are facing huge economic pressures these days, then on top of all that face the potential of lawsuits. They would have to get lawyers to defend them and with costs like that they could face bankruptcy. To me that is unconscionable.
I was interested in reading an article from one of these animal rights groups that said it would like to work. It was asking for money in this letter. It said “Allow us to save the animals from the torment of the hunters, the researchers, the fashion industry”. It just is not true. Hunters are not out to torture animals. I have never gone hunting myself but I know those who have take every measure to prevent unnecessary suffering on the part of the animals.
How about this one? “We have to make sure that we work to rescue innocent dogs and cats from pounds that would sell them into the excruciating hell of the secret experiments of researchers”. If that is not over the top, I do not know what is. There is no benefit in making these animals suffer unnecessarily or even making them suffer necessarily.
Here is another one, which talked about a family whose dog was picked up by the pound and then apparently taken away to be put down. It says “A poison-filled hypodermic needle was plunged into poor [dog], a cold-blooded killing of a deeply loved family companion”.
I was asked one time to do a service for friends of mine. Their dog had gone amok and had become a danger to the children. They said that they loved the dog so much that they could not take him to the vet and asked me to do it. With great reluctance I said I would because I knew the children had to be protected. I went to the vet carrying the dog my arm. I walked into the vet's office and asked if he would mind if I observed because I wanted to ensure that the dog was put down humanely.
I observed that event and that dog was put away in a humane fashion with absolutely no suffering at all. The dog was put on a table. The veterinarian cut the dog's hair, put on an anaesthetic and used a needle that instantaneously stopped the heart.
I am distressed that we are succumbing to extremist groups that just do not accept that we are trying to do our best.