House of Commons Hansard #88 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was election.


Universal Declaration on Animal WelfarePrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.


Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

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”.

Universal Declaration on Animal WelfarePrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.


Garry Breitkreuz Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to thank the member for Scarborough Southwest for bringing forth this motion.

The Government of Canada takes issues of animal welfare very seriously indeed and is committed to improving the living standards of animals both here at home and around the globe. I will highlight some of the various ways in which our government has already acted on this issue.

Before I do that, I want to mention that I represent a riding in Saskatchewan that is heavily dependent on agriculture. It is important to know what impact this declaration will have on farmers and ranchers of all types. They hold me, as their representative, responsible to ask the question, what impact will this have on those who are in these occupations?

Our government along with the provinces enforce humane slaughter regulations which apply in federally and provincially registered facilities. We also uphold humane transport regulations which apply throughout Canada, whether by land, air or sea. Canadian livestock and poultry producers, livestock haulers and processors have made great strides to improve farm animal welfare, such as the certified livestock training program for livestock and poultry transporters.

Moreover, this government has taken a number of steps to improve animal welfare over the years. For instance, we have amended protocols for the seal harvest and we have tightened sanctions against acts of animal cruelty through provisions in the Criminal Code.

Our government is continuing to carry out innovative research in conjunction with universities to explore ways to assess and improve the welfare of animals on farms, including improving housing conditions for livestock. The National Farm Animal Care Council provides a key means to ensure the well-being of farm animals in Canada.

With respect to animals used in research, the federal granting agencies have set requirements that animals must be handled in accordance with the principles and guidelines set out by the Canadian Council on Animal Care.

These and a number of other related initiatives continue to be supported and advanced under the responsibilities of my hon. colleague, the Minister of Agriculture.

With our partners in the provinces, a wide variety of similar steps have been taken to address this issue to ensure that a high standard of animal welfare in Canada is vigorously pursued. For instance, provincial veterinary licensing bodies have taken steps to encourage veterinarians to report instances of animal abuse.

Lastly, there are a number of non-governmental organizations in Canada that are actively working toward improving animal welfare. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, to name one, has identified animal welfare as a top priority and has produced a series of animal welfare position statements.

I see my time is up. I will finish my speech next time.

Universal Declaration on Animal WelfarePrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

6:40 p.m.


Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to take part in these adjournment proceedings and specifically relate back to a question that I had asked in the spring session, a question that was prompted, I guess, by some of the selective amnesia on the other side of the chamber. Maybe I will use my four minutes to provide a bit of background as a reminder.

The question I had posed was about the banking system which, at that time, the finance minister was taking great credit for the situation that we found ourselves in here with the meltdown in the United States, south of the border. Our banking system was in relatively strong shape and he was taking the bows and being very self-congratulatory about that.

History shows that a great number on the other side, some now in cabinet on the other side, were some of the greatest champions of the deregulation at the time. They wanted to see the banks go global. They wanted to see them grow. They wanted to see them take on the face of Citibank. That is exactly what those people on the other side were advocating and pushing for.

However, it was successive Liberal governments that did not yield to that type of pressure, that did not yield to compromise the regulatory regime that had been in place, and it was our past prime minister, Jean Chrétien. In retrospect, in hindsight it was absolutely the proper decision to make at the time and, fortunately, Canadians are the benefactors of that strength, that wisdom and that courage that he showed in ensuring that regulatory regime stayed in place.

That is nothing new. History shows that with regard to his decision on Iraq. The people across the floor thought that we should have been there with the Americans but, no, at that time, Prime Minister Chrétien stood his ground and made the right decision, and I think Canadians know that fully now. One on one, I think they on the other side of the chamber might even admit it.

I could go on and on. There was the G20. When I look at the Prime Minister just back from his talks last week, one would think that he invented the G20. However, when Paul Martin was putting forth the importance of developing a G20 including those developing countries, he was vilified by the current Prime Minister saying that multilateralism is so yesterday and that it was a sign of weakness in this nation.

Time after time, issue after issue, whether we look at income trusts or broken promises to widows, there have been problems. The reason for the non-confidence motion today is that we do not get straight answers from the government. There is no recollection of its history and no regard for fact.

I will pose my question for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister. When can Canadians expect to get truthful answers, facts, from the government--

6:45 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please.

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister.

6:45 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario


Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the member across the way talked about support for bank mergers. There was a member of the House of Commons who did support the bank mergers. In fact, he said, “The mindset was, we need to be more global, more like Citibank”. We have seen what has happened to Citibank. Who supported bank mergers at the time? The current Liberal finance critic. It was he who stood and spoke. He has since issued a mea culpa to the Canadian people for his support of bank mergers. The Conservative Party and its two predecessor parties opposed bank mergers at that time.

The World Economic Forum's 2009-10 global competitiveness report has again ranked Canada as having the world's soundest banking system. Canada's banks and other financial institutions are sound and well capitalized, and we are less highly leveraged than our international peers heading into this global financial crisis.

The Prime Minister's focus is economy, economy, economy. His economic action plan is working. The action plan helps families to invest in their future with the Conservative tax-free savings account. It lets people put their hard-earned tax dollars back into the value of their homes, while creating jobs for people who work as contractors, builders, landscapers, roofers. That is through the Conservative home renovation tax credit. I was saddened to see that the hon. member and his party voted against the Conservative home renovation tax credit. They would take that advantage away from our families and from our economy.

All the spending in the economic action plan is timely, targeted and temporary. That means it will lapse in two years and allow the budget to move back to a balanced position. While the Prime Minister has been hard at work on the economy, the Liberal Party tried to force a wasteful and opportunistic election just a few minutes ago in the House of Commons. The Liberal leader tried to force an election that would destabilize the economy. Yet when the chips were down, the same Liberal leader voted against the Conservative home renovation tax credit.

The Liberals also voted in favour of the deficit. They voted for all of the spending that our government has passed, and the Liberal leader has proposed billions in new spending, above and beyond what this government has done. For example, the Liberal leader has proposed changes to EI that would allow someone to work for only 45 days and then collect EI for the rest of the year. That is why it is being called the 45-day work year. We respectfully disagree with this proposal because it would cost billions of dollars to the treasury.

The Liberals have proposed other costly ideas on old age security and employment insurance that would drive up government spending and the deficit. I invite my Liberal friend to work with us on the economic action plan. Let us work together to continue to create jobs, to help our economy in its recovery and to support Canadian families as we get through these difficult global economic times.

6:50 p.m.


Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is almost entertaining to hear the parliamentary secretary say, “Please work with us”.

I would like to make a point of clarification. My colleague from Markham—Unionville was with the banks at the time he made those statements. The Liberals stood and voted against deregulation. The Reform Party, which constitutes a great deal of the current government, voted 100% in favour of deregulation, so we might have found ourselves in the same mess the United States is in had those members been in government at the time. That is the reality.

What has the finance minister done? The only thing he has done is he has approved 40-year mortgages with 0% down, just like the subprime mortgage problem that triggered the downfall in the United States and helped the world economy tumble. He has come back and since corrected that, putting it to 35 years, but--

6:50 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The minute has expired, so I will go back to the parliamentary secretary.

6:50 p.m.


Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is on a night like tonight after Liberal attempts to force a wasteful and opportunistic election that members like that could have a change of heart and agree that now is the time to work together with the Prime Minister to advance the economic action plan.

This action plan is creating jobs with construction projects that help our communities build and grow into the future. This economic action plan includes a Conservative home renovation tax credit that helps people put their tax dollars back into the value of their homes while creating jobs for renovators, contractors and landscapers and creating new demand for our troubled forestry sector and its products.

This is an economic action plan that is working and that is what we are doing on this side of the House. We are working for the economy's best interests to help our families. I would encourage the Liberals to shift gears and join us in doing that.

6:50 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:54 p.m.)