Madam Speaker, I am pleased to follow the member for Scarborough Southwest because in listening to his remarks it was gratifying to learn that other members on this side had the same concerns about the definition of animal in this legislation and took action.
The member for Scarborough Southwest would be interested to hear what I said in this place on June 3, 2002, when this legislation was before the House at third reading stage. I rose and I said:
Throughout its long journey through the House of Commons I have struggled in the background with the definition of animal in the legislation and tried to change it, unsuccessfully, I regret to say. I am hoping that when the bill goes on to the Senate that the senators will take some of my concerns to heart--
And of course, what we have before us today is the senators did take my concerns to heart. They have changed the definition of animal. My concern was exactly the same as the concern expressed by the member for Scarborough Southwest. The definition of an animal in the original legislation was far too broad. It defined an animal as a vertebrate other than a human being and any other animal that has the capacity to feel pain.
Well, it does not take much imagination to know what would have happened if that definition actually made it into law. There would have been unlimited litigation as various animal rights organizations brought forward cases claiming cruelty to crustaceans, octopus, squids, amoebas, you name it, worms even could be included. That definition was so broad that virtually any sentient creature could have been included. It is still a puzzle to me as to why the justice department steadfastly defended a policy that was so obviously in the interests of the radical animal rights organizations and so obviously would have taken up so much time in litigation.
I was interested to hear the parliamentary secretary defend the original definition by saying that the original definition was drafted with a view to bringing some clarity to the law to enunciate that vertebrates were included. Well, that is obvious. There was never a question about that. He went on to say that the original definition “would have allowed the Crown to prosecute a case in respect of a non-vertebrate if it was prepared to meet the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the animal had the capacity to feel pain”. And here is where we get into this whole problem of where people look at words in their legalistic sense and do not look at what the words actually mean, and what they actually connote in the broad sense.
Any sentient creature has the ability to feel pain. If we take an non-vertebrate animal from the sea and cut it, it will react. It will shrink back. I am reminded of the fact that the Discovery magazine very recently had quite an article on a scientist in the United States who had made a career of studying squid. The way he would get the squid is it was basically by hook and he would pull them out of the water. He noted rather elaborately in his article that the squid very obviously showed all kinds of indications that they were experiencing pain. They flushed red, they did this, that and the other thing.
Now the issue that the justice department officials, who formulated this policy that has this capacity to feel pain definition in it, is they ignored the question of whether an animal suffers or not. When we talk about cruelty to animals, what we are really talking about is causing another creature to suffer.
I submit to you, Madam Speaker, as I did numerous times in the various speeches that I have done on this topic before, is that if an animal basically does not have a brain, if it basically does not have a sense of--