Mr. Speaker, I am happy to take part in this debate on Motion M-354, which was moved by my colleague, the member for Scarborough Southwest. I congratulate her on her initiative. I would also like to thank and congratulate the NDP member representing the riding of Burnaby—Douglas for agreeing to withdraw his own motion so that my colleague from Scarborough Southwest could move hers.
For the sake of the people who do not know how these things work, I want to explain that there is a draw for private members' business. Each member is given a rank, and items are considered in order of rank. The member for Burnaby—Douglas had a lower rank than the member for Scarborough Southwest, which meant that my colleague had a greater chance of having her motion debated in the House than the member for Burnaby—Douglas did. I congratulate and thank him.
I just recently became interested in animal cruelty and animal welfare issues. I have to admit that I was like many Canadians. I have had cats, dogs and birds. I treated them well, but was unaware of existing Canadian and international legislation. Then some of my fellow citizens came to see me, people from my riding who were passionate about animal welfare. They wanted to strengthen and modernize Canadian legislation. They are the ones who ignited my passion.
Currently, the importance of animal welfare is not recognized on a global scale. I think that the parliamentary secretary mentioned that earlier in his remarks.
Adopting a universal animal rights declaration would create not a legal obligation but a moral one for governments, prompting them to take steps to ensure that animals in their respective countries are protected.
People's attitudes and behaviour toward animals mirror their treatment of other people. Animals cannot defend themselves, so we must act on their behalf.
There is both scientific consensus and public acknowledgement that animals feel pain and can suffer.
I believe that we must do all we can to prevent cruelty to animals and minimize their suffering.
Moreover, responsible, cruelty-free treatment of animals has a positive impact on land use, climate change, pollution, the water supply, habitat preservation and biodiversity. I am not alone in believing this; other members of the House have said so, and scientific studies back up these claims.
Over a billion of the world's people owe their living to animals. Many other people have pets. Taking proper care of animals reduces the risk of transmitting diseases to humans and of food poisoning.
MPs wore orange ribbons yesterday to recognize World Animal Week which will officially kickoff next week on October 4 and is a yearly reminder to make the world a safer, more compassionate place for all animals. It is a celebration of animals that helps to raise awareness and standards of animal welfare worldwide. It is also a chance to make the world a safer, more compassionate place for all animals.
As was mentioned by the parliamentary secretary of the government, the Chief Veterinary Officer of Canada is a member of the World Animal Health Organization and in May 2007 that organization voted unanimously in favour of adopting a UDAW, a universal declaration for animal welfare. Within Canada, UDAW is supported by many organizations and I would like to mention a few: the World Society for the Protection of Animals, Humane Society of Canada, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and its many member societies, Animal Alliance of Canada, Global Action Network, British Columbia, Ontario and Canadian SPCAs, and the SPCA de l'Estrie.
Those are just some Canadian organizations that support Canada helping to develop and adopt a universal declaration for animal welfare across the world. There are some two million people around the world who have signed petitions to this effect.
I am not going to go on much longer except to say that I would encourage my colleagues to support this motion. It appears that the government will support the motion as it has been amended, a friendly amendment, accepted by the sponsor of the motion, the member for Scarborough Southwest.
I heard what the member from the Bloc had to say and I agree with him. Our Criminal Code provisions need to be modernized, those which deal with the protection of animals and those that deal with cruelty to animals. They are two centuries behind. However, adopting this motion, I believe, will help further stimulate debate and interest into the whole issue of how we protect our animals both here in Canada and outside of Canada.
I believe we will gain more and more support to bring pressure to the government, whichever party is there, if it is not the current party which acts, then whatever party follows this one and forms the government, to modernize our Criminal Code provisions dealing with cruelty to animals and to modernize our regulations dealing with the transport of animals.
Under our regulations animals can be transported for 52 consecutive hours. The United States has modernized its regulations regarding the transportation of animals and in the United States animals can only be transported for 28 hours. That is a major difference. Those extra hours would have a major impact on how stressful the animals are mentally and physically. It would definitely have an impact on the health of those animals and subsequently, if they are animals that go into the food chain, it could have an impact on humans themselves.
I am hopeful that the House will adopt the motion unanimously. It would send a powerful statement to the government but also to Canadians that their elected officials are serious about improving our laws and regulations to better protect our animals.
I want to thank again my super colleague from Scarborough Southwest for taking up this issue, for championing this issue. She has done a wonderful job. I want to thank again the member for Burnaby—Douglas for being such a great guy on this, for understanding the importance. It was more important to get this motion debated and voted on in the House quickly than to have so-called ownership of it.
Everyone here who supports this will own this motion. Everyone here who supports this motion and who votes for this motion can proudly go back to their ridings and tell their constituents, “This is a motion that I supported, this is a motion that I want the rest of you to get onboard with and help me push forward with the government”.