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House of Commons Hansard #140 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was animal.

Topics

Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed from April 18 consideration of the motion that Bill C-377, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-377 under private members' business.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #163

Climate Change Accountability ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

I declare the motion carried. Consequently, this bill is referred to the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

The House resumed from April 19 consideration of the motion.

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded on the motion at report stage of Bill C-278 under private members' business.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #164

Employment Insurance ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from April 20 consideration of the motion that Bill C-327, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act (reduction of violence in television broadcasts), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Broadcasting ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion.

And the Clerk having announced the result of the vote:

Broadcasting ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I thought we were calling the vote for those opposed so I voted twice. I vote in opposition to the motion.

Broadcasting ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to register my vote as opposed.

Broadcasting ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Conservative Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I apologize, but for five seconds I was confused, as the Liberals have been about Afghanistan for five years. I wish to register my vote in opposition as well.

Broadcasting ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like it to be very clear that I am voting against this motion.

Broadcasting ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, while I see that four members were of two minds on this vote, and I appreciate them clarifying it, the Minister of Natural Resources has left and I see another member who is now resuming his seat. Therefore, I would ask that the vote then reflect the absence of the Minister of Natural Resources.

Broadcasting ActPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

After having heard these points of order, I will ask the Clerk to announce the corrected vote.

And the Clerk having announced the corrected vote:

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #165

Broadcasting ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

It being 6:31 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from February 26 consideration of the motion that Bill S-213, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal Code

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The member for Wild Rose has five minutes remaining.

The hon. member for Wild Rose.

Criminal Code

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I encourage the House to support getting Bill S-213 to the committee.

I need to get a couple of items down that I was getting to before my time ran out the last time I was speaking to this.

First, I want to remind the House of the 110,000-plus signatures I tabled in the form of a petition. They are calling for harsher penalties for individuals who abuse, just for the heck of it, animals for whatever motive they may have. The petitioners want animals to be protected.

On these petitions, a great majority of people were opposed to Bill S-213. Because of that and because of the fact that numerous other individuals have contacted me by way of email and other sources and are highly supportive of Bill S-213, it is necessary to move the bill forward to committee to have a close look at it to see if there are things that can be done to make it better and that will satisfy all parties that are concerned.

In regard to the number of signatures on the petition, two young ladies from my riding worked hard to get these signatures. I appreciate their efforts. They did that in memory of a dog in Didsbury, Alberta, called Daisy Duke. The dog died a horrific death for whatever reason. At this point we are not too certain because it is still before the courts.

Because a great chunk of the petition was formulated in my riding, I was able to talk to a great number of people who signed the petition. They really are not aware of the intent of Bill S-213. This is why it is so important, if this is going to go before the public, if we are going to have a debate, that we have witnesses, like the two young ladies who started this bill and the idea, before the committee to give them an opportunity to express their opposition to the bill and where they feel it can be altered, or amended and fixed.

I also believe we need the opportunity to hear from others who are quite concerned about our treatment of animals. They want a good bill. They want to make certain that ranchers, farmers, hunters, trappers and those people who have legitimate animal businesses are protected from arrest for normal practices that deal with animals.

I think of rodeos, which are be big events in my part of the country. Thousands of people participate. It would be a great opportunity at committee to take a close look at the bill and decide what we can do with it in terms of amending it or making it better, if that is possible.

I want to once again commend the people who signed the petition, who got the petition together. It is not often that we table petitions with that many signatures, and I was pleased to do so. However, we need to be very cautious about where we move on this. Whatever we decide could have an impact on a great number of people who deal with animals in one way or another.

Thousands of people in my riding have horses, dogs, pets and anything we can name. Unfortunately, the very few decide that they want to do something really stupid when it comes to the abuse of animals, and I will not tolerate that. I do not think any of us should, but at the same time I do not want to see what I saw with one farmer in my riding. He took a cow that had cancer eye to auction and he was charged by the SPCA. The only reason he took the cow in was to cull it out. Nothing can be done for cancer eye. It is due to normal causes, yet he was fined for abuse to an animal.

That kind of thing happened to my friend, Dave, and the cost to him was very unfortunate. We have to make certain that we look after people who I know love what they do and will do their utmost to look after the care and welfare of their animals.

Criminal Code

6:35 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate at second reading of Bill S-213, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals).

I think that we are touching here on a problem that worries not only parliamentarians, but also my fellow citizens, given the number of letters we have received. People love animals. These creatures are part of their lives, give affection and, for some, are sources of income. People clearly want us to create legislation that provides adequate protection for our animals and that fairly punishes people who have little respect for them.

As I was saying, this problem has undoubtedly been of concern to my current and former colleagues. Six bills have been brought before the House in recent years. Bill S-213 is the seventh. Not to mention Bill C-373, which is an eighth bill that has been introduced and is in progress. Our concern about animal welfare is clear.

Bill S-213 attempts to update the provisions of the Criminal Code dealing with cruelty to animals, which have essentially remained unchanged since 1892. Just imagine: that is 115 years with no review of penalties.

That means that no one found guilty of mistreatment, negligence, abuse, mutilation or killing of an animal can be sentenced to more than six months' imprisonment or a maximum $2,000 fine, with the exception of wilfully killing livestock. These are sanctions from another era.

The Senate bill updates the legislation in three areas. First, it makes it possible for the courts to impose harsher penalties on those who commit offences involving animals, including such reprehensible conduct as mutilation, killing, negligence, abandonment, and failure to provide food to animals.

Bill S-213 creates two categories of offences: Bill S-213 would then separate offences into two categories: first, for injuring animals intentionally and, second, for injuring animals by criminal neglect.

Under traditional criminal law principles, knowingly or intentionally doing something is more blameworthy than doing the same thing by gross negligence. Accordingly, the maximum available penalties are normally much higher for crimes that involve deliberate action than for crimes committed by negligence. Bill S-213 would address this by distinguishing between the two types of cruelty. Bill S-213 would assign different maximum penalties to each, according to the different degree of seriousness.

Consequently, the maximum term of imprisonment would be increased to 5 years on indictment and 18 months on summary conviction. The new five-year penalty would also cover the offence of causing pain, suffering or injury by a failure to exercise reasonable care or supervision. In addition, the penalty is accompanied by a fine of up to $10,000 or up to $5,000 in the case of negligence.

For the other offences, such as abandoning an animal in distress or failing to provide suitable water, food or shelter, the maximum penalty on indictment would be raised from six months in prison to two years.

Second, Bill S-213 frees the court from the maximum period of two years when making an order prohibiting an animal owner from having an animal in his possession. The bill gives the court the possibility of making a prohibition order for life regarding the offending owner.

Third, the bill provides for restitution mechanisms whereby the court may order an individual to pay for medical expenses if an animal has been cared for by an animal welfare agency. As a result, individuals found guilty of negligence or intentional cruelty may be required to compensate agencies that have cared for mistreated animals. This measure would also help animal welfare societies recover their costs.

I firmly believe that these proposals represent a definite improvement over the current animal protection legislation. But protecting animals against cruelty raises concerns with respect to the measures that would penalize some people, especially aboriginal people with ancestral rights under section 35 of the Constitution and people who engage in legitimate sport hunting and fishing or legitimate research activities that may involve animal testing.

That reminds me of the letters I receive nearly every day. Some contend that Bill S-213 does not afford animals enough rights, but what those critics may not so readily admit is that the reason many of the previous bills did not pass is that they potentially violated the rights of those who depend on animals for their livelihood. Farmers, university and scientific researchers, aboriginal peoples, and fishers and hunters have all expressed serious concerns.

For example, in my riding, Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, there are sport fishers and farmers. In talking with these people, I have discovered that most of them have a well-developed environmental conscience that often extends to animal welfare.

There are also aboriginal people in my riding. I have the privilege of representing the Mohawks of Kahnawake in this House. They have a long tradition of using animals for perfectly legitimate purposes that do not constitute cruelty to animals.

In response to this problem, my colleagues and I are looking to strike a difficult balance between our desire to protect animals against cruelty and the rights of hunters, fishers and first nations to continue engaging in legally sanctioned activities.

For these reasons, we will support Bill S-213 so that the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights can study it more closely. By not proposing amendments beyond the penalty provisions, Bill S-213 ensures that everything that is now legal will remain so. More importantly, Bill S-213 protects animal rights and offers better tools of prosecution, yet it does not offer new grounds on which to challenge legal animal use practices. It will be interesting to see how we can work constructively in committee to maintain this balance.

In conclusion, my party considers animal cruelty to be unacceptable and despicable. That is why we are seeking to denounce animal abuse by amending the legislation, and Bill S-213 is a step in the right direction. That being said, this bill is incomplete. It will not solve all of the problems.

My colleague from Ajax—Pickering also introduced a bill concerning animal cruelty. Bill C-373 is interesting and has attracted the attention of many groups and individuals concerned about animal welfare and protection. Unless something unexpected comes up, I hope that the House's legislative process will make it possible for us to debate and perhaps support Bill C-373, which was introduced by the member for Ajax-Pickering.

I wanted to mention this particular bill because it improves on Bill S-213: not only does Bill C-373 increase the penalties, as recommended in Bill S-213, its clause 3 also ensures that the difficult balance I mentioned earlier is maintained by guaranteeing that legitimate hunters and fishers, including those exercising their aboriginal rights to practice such activities, will not be charged.

That being said, by sending Bill S-213 to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, I believe the House will also be sending a clear message to prosecutors, judges and police officers that this Parliament believes in protecting animals and that it is against all forms of animal cruelty.