Mr. Speaker, given the debate we just had on time allocation, I want to assure the House that I am very pleased to get up today to speak to Bill C-84. However, I am disappointed not to be speaking to a broader bill that could have simply been called “an act to amend the Criminal Code, animal cruelty”, because what we really needed was a broad review of the animal cruelty legislation and not a bill just narrowly focused on bestiality and animal fighting. Instead of that broader review, the government introduced a narrow and weak bill, which, fortunately, the justice committee strengthened with amendments. I will return to those in a moment.
Even though the Liberal government has missed the larger opportunity to modify animal cruelty provisions in the Criminal Code as a whole, some legislation on animal cruelty is long overdue. By my count, since 1999, there have been 14 failed attempts to amend Canada's animal cruelty laws. Some would argue that we have seen no significant changes in animal cruelty laws since the 1950s. I have to say that I am not sure that we would have seen the government introduce any legislation on animal cruelty at all if it had not been for the Supreme Court decision in R. v. D.L.W., in 2016, which pointed out the problems with the narrow definition of bestiality in the existing Criminal Code provisions.
My skepticism of the will of the Liberals to act was fuelled when the Liberals used their majority to defeat their own backbencher's private member's bill, Bill C-246, from the member for Beaches—East York,, entitled the modernizing animal protections act. That was the kind of broad look at the changes we needed and that this government bill should have brought forward. Bill C-246 would have provided for much more comprehensive reform than we have in the bill before us today, and New Democrats supported that bill when it came before the House, in contrast to the Liberals.
Bill C-246 would have increased sentences for repeat animal abusers, including creating the ability to have a lifetime ban, after a second conviction, on any ownership of animals. However, that is not in the bill we are dealing with today, and I am disappointed that it is not there.
As well, Bill C-246 proposed to deal with a wide range of acts beyond the Criminal Code that actually deal with the way we treat animals, including the Fisheries Act, the Textile Labelling Act, the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act—