House of Commons Hansard #412 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was animals.

Topics

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

Vote #1310

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from March 18 consideration of the motion that Bill C-84, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting), be read the third time and passed.

Third ReadingCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 8th, 2019 / 5:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I wish to inform the House that because of proceedings on the time allocation motion, Government Orders will be extended by another 30 minutes, for a total of 37 minutes.

Third ReadingCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

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—

Third ReadingCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I just want to interrupt the hon. member for a moment.

The hon. member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke has a speech that I am trying to hear but cannot because of the grumbling or the mumbling. It is not loud, and I am sure that members do not even realize that their talk is drowning him out. However, I want to remind hon. members that someone is giving a speech, and we should all listen and hear what he has to say.

The hon. member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke.

Third ReadingCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, let me just pick up again on Bill C-246, the Liberal backbench bill that the government defeated. It would have also dealt with the things that are in this government bill. We could have done what is in this bill before us, and more, by passing that private member's bill.

Perhaps most importantly, Bill C-246 would have moved offences against animals out of the property section of the Criminal Code and into a new section dedicated to offences against animals. This would not only have been an important legal reform; I think it would also be a very important symbol of our need as humans to rethink our place in the natural universe and to see ourselves as part of the web of nature on which we depend for our very survival, rather than seeing the Earth and all of its beings as simply property for us to use and discard when we are done.

I have spent a lot of time on this private member's bill because it puts the much narrower government bill in front of us into a proper context. The fact that the government used its majority to defeat a more comprehensive reform of animal cruelty legislation tempers the credit the government should get for bringing forward this bill today.

At this point, I also want to give credit to the Conservative member for Calgary Nose Hill, who pushed the government to act on the very narrow definition that the Supreme Court found by introducing her own private member's bill, Bill C-388, in order to make sure that the government was forced to bring forward its own bill instead of having to deal with hers.

The member for Calgary Nose Hill did acknowledge some concerns in her caucus that attempting to modernize and strengthen animal cruelty provisions might affect farmers and hunters. I also want to acknowledge concerns in indigenous communities that reforms of animal cruelty legislation should not infringe on aboriginal rights and traditional hunting practices.

However, like the member for Calgary Nose Hill, I believe we can update animal cruelty legislation and at the same time avoid unintended impacts on farmers and hunters and unintended consequences with regard to aboriginal rights.

Perhaps I should mention that I am not a hunter, nor have I eaten meat for more than 35 years. I am a proud dog owner, although I resisted the temptation today to wear a t-shirt with a picture of my poodle on it under my jacket. I should also say that my support for this bill will keep peace at home, as my partner is a very passionate advocate for animal rights.

In fact, New Democrats in this House have consistently advocated reform of animal cruelty laws. The member for Port Moody—Coquitlam has proposed his private member's bill, Bill C-380, which would have banned the importation of shark fins. He has been working very hard on the Senate bill, Bill S-238, which is a parallel bill, to make sure that we pass that bill before the House rises to help end the cruel practice of shark finning.

Both the member for Vancouver East and the member for New Westminster—Burnaby have introduced motions to ban the import of products containing dog and cat fur. Former Toronto NDP MP Peggy Nash had a private member's bill, Bill C-232, to strengthen animal cruelty laws, as did former NDP Quebec MP Isabelle Morin, so this is not a new cause for us to take up. This is something we have been fighting for for many years in this House.

At the justice committee, the member for Beaches—East York moved an amendment to Bill C-84, which was adopted unanimously and which broadened the government's too-narrow bill, and three very important provisions were added to the bill in committee.

The first of those allows a prohibition order on animal ownership for a certain period, as determined by a judge. The second makes it an offence to violate an order prohibiting animal ownership, meaning that someone could actually be prosecuted for violating that order of prohibition. The third allows restitution orders to compel those convicted to pay for the care of animals injured. Those were quite important aspects from his own private member's bill on which the member got consensus to bring into the bill before us today.

A separate amendment was also adopted to add bestiality to the list of offences covered in the Sex Offender Information Registration Act. As the member for St. Albert—Edmonton very clearly pointed out, the reason for doing this is that abuse of animals is often an indicator of other forms of abuse, in particular of child abuse. This becomes information that is very useful to the police. I thank him for bringing forward that amendment to this bill.

Those two amendments, one with three provisions and one with one provision, added important aspects to Bill C-84, even though it remains, as I said before, less than the comprehensive reform of animal cruelty legislation that I would like to see before the House.

Still, Bill C-84 does redefine bestiality more broadly than the court decision and it does prohibit a broader range of activities associated with animal fighting, so I and my fellow New Democrats are supporting this bill.

I would have to say personally that even if it only contained the provisions banning activities associated with animal fighting, I would support this bill. It is important to ban promoting, arranging and profiting from animal fighting. It is important to ban breeding, training or transporting animals to fight and it is important to ban keeping any arena for the purpose of animal fighting. I think these are very important steps.

I am not going to go on for a long time, despite the accusations of the government that the reason that we wanted to speak was to delay the bill. I am not even going to use all my time today. I want to conclude by saying that the reason I wanted to speak is to bring our attention to the fact that there is still a lot of work to do on animal cruelty after we pass Bill C-84.

We are missing the opportunity for that comprehensive reform that I have been talking about. In particular, I believe this bill should have included basic standards of care and housing for animals. It could also have included restrictions on tethering animals, in particular dogs, a practice that, since it is unregulated, can be a severe threat to the health and safety of dogs. Of course, tethered dogs are much more likely to bite, and specifically to bite children. In fact, according to the Montreal SPCA, tethered dogs are three times more likely to bite and five times more likely to bite children.

Again, after Bill C-84 passes, there is much more work to do beyond fixing the additional provisions of the Criminal Code that I mentioned earlier. Most important, of course, is the work that needs to be done on protecting endangered species and the habitat that they depend on. This past week, we saw the release of an alarming report from the United Nations intergovernmental science-policy platform on biodiversity. This report documents the unprecedented and accelerating rates of species' extinction at rates never before seen in human history. The report warns that more than one million animal and plant species are facing extinction within the next few decades as a result of human activity.

What we do need now, and I mean right now, are bold measures to protect and preserve the ecosystems that the endangered plants and animals depend on. Since I arrived in this House eight years ago, I have been an advocate for emergency action to protect the southern resident killer whales, as we are at the brink of losing a species, each of whose name is individually known. Instead of a bold and urgent recovery plan for the orcas that would mobilize large-scale habitat restoration where appropriate and put millions of hatchery chinook in the water, this work is being left to volunteers, and they have undertaken this work without any government support. Instead of support, we have a timid recovery plan that tries to manage declining stocks of chinook by relying on fishing restrictions when everybody knows that what we actually need—not just the whales, but all of us—is more fish in the water.

In conclusion, while passing Bill C-84 is an important step forward in animal protection, it is only a first step in a process that will require us to re-examine our place in the natural world.

Bill C-91—Notice of time allocation motionIndigenous Languages ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I hope that this will not need to be utilized.

In case an agreement could not be reached under the provisions of Standing Order 78(1) or 78(2) with respect to the third reading stage of Bill C-91, An Act respecting Indigenous languages, under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the Crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at that stage.

Once again, I hope this will not need to be used.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-84, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting), be read the third time and passed.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member across the way for his passion on this topic.

I have recently been in touch with the Guelph Humane Society, which is really concerned about delays in this legislation coming forth. One point they made was that 87% of cases involving bestiality also involve child pornography, sexual interference with a child and online luring of children in terms of sexual assault, so this bill actually protects children as well as animals.

Could the member maybe expand on that and comment on how humane societies play an important role in this legislation as well?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, since the member made reference to delay, something I tried to stay away from in my speech, I will go ahead now and say that the government only in its fourth year got to this legislation. Every time we talk about delay, the implication is that somehow the opposition side has been delaying things. It is the government that has been delaying. It is the government that has been negligent in getting the bill before us. All the while, it has been pushing on what we would call an open door. We have been willing to co-operate. There is always a time for speakers. There is always a certain amount of time we should give to that debate. Nobody has been holding up this bill.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, first, I want to give credit to the many advocacy groups that have paved the way for this bill, such as Animal Justice and the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies. Also, I want to give a shout-out to my legislative manager, Bari Miller, who is a militant vegan who always pushes animal rights on me. I give credit to her where credit is due.

My colleague opposite talked about some of the concerns raised in debate. Since I hope this bill will be going to the other place quickly, could he speak to some of the stuff that came up in debate specifically around this not affecting any sort of artificial insemination process used in animal husbandry and the fact that this bill would not preclude things like the Calgary Stampede from continuing?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to again thank the member for Calgary Nose Hill for her advocacy on this issue. What I said in my speech I really think is a credit to her. She has been the leader in pointing out in this House that there is no necessary connection between improving animal protection and the way we treat animals and some of the fears that have been stirred up by the other side that this would somehow affect aboriginal rights or the rights of farmers to farm or that it would do away with the Calgary Stampede. None of those would be the case. None of those would ever have to be the case.

What the bill is aimed at are particularly egregious abuses of animals in our society. For me, the worst is animal fighting. We do not have good statistics on animal fighting, but we all know that it goes on. We do not have the proper tools to attack those abusive practices. This is not aimed at farmers. It is not aimed at exhibitions. It is not aimed at aboriginal people.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, in their questioning, the NDP and the Conservatives talked a lot about the time crunch. It is important to recognize that the government, like Canadians and like members opposite, supports the legislation. It seems that everyone supports the legislation. However, just because everyone supports it does not necessarily mean that there is not mischievous behaviour. For example, today the NDP tried to prevent the bill from being debated by moving a motion. Had that motion been debated, we would not be dealing with Bill C-84 today.

It is a bit disingenuous to say that it is the government that is trying to hold back the legislation. I believe that there is fairly solid support both inside the House and outside the House, and I too would like to applaud all those advocates over the years who have brought us to this point.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to thank the member for that question, because when it comes to disingenuous, he is the poster boy for disingenuous. If we looked in a dictionary, we would find his picture under the word “disingenuous”. Nobody did anything today, or any other day, on the opposition side to delay this bill. The only thing I agree with in his question is the credit he gave, which I neglected to give adequately, to the animal rights activists who also pushed the government to move the bill forward.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, what the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke said is very important to remember. When the member for Vancouver East stood to move that motion, we put no speakers up. We were interested in going straight to a vote. I just want to put the facts straight before the House.

In my riding of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, we had a dreadful case of animal cruelty last year. I acknowledge that changing the law, by itself, would not solve animal cruelty. It would be one important tool, but we need a variety of measures.

Shortly after the government defeated its own Liberal member's bill, Bill C-246, the then justice minister made a promise before the media that her government would be looking at the whole range of tools in the tool kit to see if it could revisit this issue. It dragged on through 2016, 2017 and 2018, and here we are finally in 2019.

Can my colleague add some comments on how the government has moved at such a glacial pace on such low-hanging fruit as Bill C-84?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford for his work on this issue. I also thank him for his work on reconciliation in his community over some things that happened around animal cruelty issues.

When we talk about a glacial pace, let me just say this. We voted on the private member's bill put forward by the member for Beaches—East York on October 5, 2016. Therefore, if somebody is worried about how fast or how slow we have gone, we could have finished with this issue in a much better bill than the one before us today had the government not killed its own backbench private member's bill.

It is not a question of somebody delaying this legislation except for government members.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, it constantly amazes me the number of times everyone in this place agrees on something. Everyone in this place agrees this bill is important to move forward to the Senate as quickly as possible, yet we still manage to find ways to partisan the argument with one another for no apparent reason—

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

An hon. member

Why are you standing up? You're doing it right now, delaying it.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

No, I am not. I want to make that clear. I am casting blame in every direction.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

An hon. member

Jaw-dropping.

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5:35 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

It is jaw-dropping.

Let us come back to the bill, Mr. Speaker. We have a bill right now with which everyone agrees. We have—

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order, please. I would suggest that the hon. member perhaps direct his speech in the direction of the Chair.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Housefather Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be happy to direct my speech toward you.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

That would be great. It sometimes happens when a speech gets directed across the aisle. It is one of the reasons that convention seems to work in avoiding some of this extra noise and some of the commentary that ensues from this kind of approach.