Mr. Speaker, we have a Senate bill in front of us today, a private member's bill, which, quite frankly, is a joke. In spite of the speeches from the other three parties, the Conservatives and the Liberals in particular, in support of Bill S-203, it remains a joke.
One of the first things I learned when I went to law school was that if we were going to have effective deterrents to anti-social or criminal behaviour, there had to be laws that could be enforced so that people who were inclined to anti-social or criminal behaviour knew that they would be caught. Everything that I have ever learned since then with regard to how we prevent or deter deviant behaviour to society has confirmed that basic rule.
At the present time the legislation in the Criminal Code with regard to animal cruelty is around 112 years old. There were very minor amendments in the 1950s, but it has not changed since that time.
Today, the reality is that of all the animal cruelty cases in this country, less than 1% of the perpetrators of those offences are ever charged. The reason is that our prosecutors right across the country and in the territories know that the law is so inadequate as it stands that they cannot get convictions. If I have time I will go through some of the examples, but that is the reality today.
In addition, in this bill there is a gross dereliction of responsibility by the political parties in this country and in this House. They are prepared to allow an unelected irresponsible Senate to dictate how we deal with the issue of animal cruelty.
We have heard the history from some of the other members. The bill with regard to animal cruelty in its most recent reincarnation was Bill C-50 which passed back in the 38th Parliament. The legislation has been passed twice by the House of Commons, the elected body in this country, and has been refused to be passed by the Senate twice.
When Bill C-50 was introduced the last time, it was clear that it had all party support because its prior incarnation had in fact received votes in this House from all parties. It was not even the Conservative Party at that time; it was the Alliance. All parties supported it. There were few exceptions; it was not unanimous, but all political parties supported it. It went through this House with overwhelming support and then got stymied by that unelected irresponsible other house. That is where things were until this bill came forward from the Senate.
We hear the argument why not just support the bill. I will say why we should not support it. It does not do anything. It is as simple as that. It does not do one thing to increase the rate of conviction. All it does is increase the penalties. It does not allow our prosecutors to get any more convictions. It does not allow our judges to convict any more people. That less than 1% conviction rate is going to continue.
We will get the odd case where somebody is convicted and perhaps gets a stiffer penalty, and I repeat perhaps. The reality is that it is not going to change the conviction rate.
We have an alternative. Again I think in particular of the Liberals on the justice committee. I introduced the amendments that would have brought the old bill, Bill C-50, into this bill. It would have dealt with the issues that are important with regard to actually protecting animals. It would have brought it into the 21st century. I do not have time to go through all of the points. I introduced those amendments and they were accepted by the chair of the justice committee as proper and admissible. The member of the Conservative Party who is chairing that committee accepted them as proper amendments.
The amendments mimic exactly the private member's bill from the Liberal member for Ajax—Pickering; it is exactly the same. The Liberals on the committee voted those amendments down. The meaningful reform that has passed this House twice was voted down by a combination of the Liberals and the Conservatives on that committee. The Bloc stood with me. The Bloc then moved some other amendments, which did not go as far as C-50 but would have made some significant progress. What happened? The same coalition of Liberals and Conservatives on that committee voted them down.
I want to be very clear about why I believe we absolutely should be voting this bill down. It was made very clear by Senator Bryden, the author of this bill, that the Senate would not accept a bill from this House. Again, a totally irresponsible unelected body is telling members of the elected House that it does not care what we think or do, but it is not letting this bill through. That reinforced my strong belief that we have to get rid of the Senate. That was the attitude.
Neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives have the political will to challenge the other place on this bill. They basically have thrown up their hands and said, “Okay, senators, whatever you want, we are not going to buck you”. That is what we are faced with and our animals will continue to be treated as we saw this past weekend with those horses in Alberta. In that case, 29 horses died. Local officials knew for two years about the abuse that was going on. The amendments that I proposed, C-50, the private member's bill from the member for Ajax—Pickering, would have allowed them to move much earlier to protect those animals and perhaps none of them would have been lost.
That is the reality of what we are faced with today. There are two political parties that are unwilling to challenge the unelected Senate, and then trying to convince the Canadian public that Bill S-203 is anything meaningful and is going to somehow deal with the issue. That is where the farce is. That is why I say this bill is a joke, because it does nothing like that.
I want to make one additional point. We did not hear from the member from the Conservative Party who spoke to this bill this morning, that the current governing party was prepared to do anything about bringing C-50 forward as a government bill, to put in place a law that in fact would protect our animals. It is not saying it is going to do that. The reality is that because of the attitude in the Senate and the lack of political will by both the Conservatives and the Liberals to challenge them, they are not in fact going to bring forward anything further. We are just never going to see these amendments as long as that attitude remains in place.
At this time, 110 to 115 years later, we need to update the legislation to have in place meaningful protection for our animals. In my riding an individual clipped the ears of a dog so that the dog would look fiercer. The dog was used for fighting. We saved that dog and got him adopted, but the reality is that person could already own another dog. We cannot prevent that from happening.
There are all sorts of other provisions. We can think of any number of other abuse cases. There is the one out in Alberta where a dog was dragged behind a vehicle, repeatedly injured, grossly and brutally attacked. There were minimal consequences as a result. That is what we need to bring to an end and that is what Bill S-203 does not do.
It is time for this Parliament to do what it is supposed to do in terms of protecting our animals.