Mr. Speaker, I know some may expect that I will be talking again about gophers but I will not do that. I only want to congratulate the two winners of the gopher derby across the west. The two young lads live in Assiniboia, about 50 miles over from where I am. They received a lot of praise and thanks for trying to eliminate these pests.
Being a little bit older, I have seen a lot of cruelty to animals, such as horses in the field and so on. I am all for heavy penalties for mistreating animals. Having said that, I want to assure the government that the people from lobby groups who have lobbied the government are not giving the straight facts.
One only has to listen carefully to some of the slogans being used by members of the PETA organization. These are people who have lobbied the government. Their definition for rodeo is “cruelty for a buck”. These people will not stop. They will tell us that their ultimate goal is to shut down the Calgary stampede. These are the same people who have influenced this legislation. Dog racing is “death in the fast lane”. All zoos, such as Vancouver and Toronto, are to be shut down. These are called “pitiful prisons”.
I just had a circus in my constituency and every year I give it $50 and sometimes more. That money pays for a whole bunch of kids to see animals which they normally would never see. PETA calls circuses “three rings of abuse”. Its ultimate goal is to shut them down. We are even getting into royalty. PETA has labelled horse racing as “a losing bet”. Travelling animal acts are “shameful shows”. Marine mammal parks, and we have some of those in Canada, are “chlorinated prisons”.
People in those lobby groups who do not own animals and who have never worked with animals are the ones who have pushed and pushed for this legislation. However it is even more serious than that. PETA has even gone so far as to bring God into this argument. PETA goes so far as to say that Jesus was a vegetarian and that if we want to be good Christians, we must be vegetarians too, therefore, we must not have Kentucky fried chicken or anything else. That is who the government has been listening to.
We have a lot of humane societies around the country but some of its volunteers, including those in Vancouver, are challenging the animal care practices. They are now lobbying Burger King, McDonalds and others because of inhumane farm and slaughter methods practised by the suppliers of meat to these institutions. They get away with this.
By the way, when a rodeo event was held in conjunction with the Salt Lake City Olympics, the lobby group again pointed out that to have a calf roping event was “an international outrage that animal abuse would be associated with the Olympics”. That was not enough. The same group has asked that we stop manipulating the appearance of dogs. It does not want anyone in our country to breed purebred dogs. The owners of sheep and cattle would really be excited to hear they could no longer buy purebred border collies.
Animal rights groups are lobbying governments to prohibit any animals in circuses. They consider a circus to be for profit. I hope people who run circuses make a profit. I do not know why the country gets all excited if someone makes a profit. It is so ridiculous.
Is it any wonder why we on this side of the House are concerned about the potential and sure abuses? As sure as I am standing here, as my hon. colleague has just said, the bill will be tested to the limit by the lobby groups. The number of people now engaged in farming and agricultural practices is in the single digits, and I am sure there are almost that many in the lobby groups, to which the government pays close attention.
I want to talk a little bit about rodeos. If someone were to go to my daughter's ranch, that individual would see little horns on the wall and a kid trying to lasso them. It has been part of our culture. What an evil practice. This all originated with the cowboys on the open range trying to tame a wild horse or, indeed, trying bull roping or calf roping for sport. All of this was necessary. Now we breed bucking horses and we have a purebred professional rodeo association.
If you want to see an association, Mr. Speaker, that works with horses and cattle and lends all kinds of support to their well-being, it is a professional rodeo. Anyone who attempts to inflict any cruelty whatsoever on one of these animals has to meet the severe reprimand and fines of the professional association. We are not going to shut down the Calgary stampede or stop doing those things that farmers and ranchers have been doing for the last 150 years.
Let me say this. If the person who is judging is the one who determines what is cruel to animals and if it is left to someone who does not know the north end of a cow going south, then that person would has to go to court would indeed have to spend his or her money to justify themselves in court to some loony-brained lobbyist group that wants to destroy all animals on all farms. I just cannot believe how the government would pass the buck and send the bill over to the Senate to provide the amendments that it thinks it wants.
The bill should never pass. Whether one runs a ranch or a rodeo, let me say that the cowboys and ranchers know how to look after their animals and they do so with tender, loving care. Coming from a rural area with huge ranches, I am not about to stand here and not tell the people on that side of the House that the bill is wrong. People do not trust the government.
On Saturday I was at the official opening of a new veterinary clinic. The young vet is worried. I told him that all he has to do when some of these lobbyists come in is to get the biggest needle going and ask them to leave. I told him that this is all he has to do.
People are afraid. The rodeos are afraid. The zoos are afraid. All the people who bring these things to our society are afraid of the bill. It is wrong.
I know that after this session of parliament ends and a new one begins these organizations that I have just mentioned will try this bill to the limit and the public will be on their side, because all we have to do is get the press or the media or someone opposite to lend a voice about the cruelty of a certain activity and people will be charged. What can they do about it? Nothing except fight it in the courts, but they probably do not have the money.
I am very proud to stand before the House to represent my constituency and say that the bill is dead wrong and should not be passed. I do not care what the majority was over there. Someone will pay for this bill down the line and I hope it is the government. I hope someone over there gets stung with the results of the bill. I do not trust the letter that I saw come around which stated that the bill will be sent to the Senate, the Senate will fix it all up and everything is going to be rosy.
They should tell that to the zoos, the rodeo people, the ranchers, the feedlot operators, the cattle rings and the stockyard houses. They do not believe one word of the bill. The people who should be most concerned would be 90% plus against the bill, yet we in the House have the audacity to support it.