Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak to Bill C-35, known as Quanto's law.
I realize that the primary focus of the bill is on law enforcement animals and this is entirely appropriate, given the heightened risk that these animals face in the course of assisting the police and other law enforcement officers in dealing with the criminal element. Certainly, they deserve our respect and the greatest protection that the legislation promises.
It is important that we not overlook the fact that the legislation would also provide a greater measure of protection to service animals. Service animals are animals that have been trained for tasks that assist people with disabilities. Service animals are not considered pets. Most service animals are dogs, and most of us are familiar with the role that guide dogs play in helping men and women who are blind, have low vision or who want greater mobility to achieve independence and freedom.
Socialization and training of service dogs starts at a very young age. Foster parents teach the puppies basic obedience, house manners and socialization to different environments. This helps the puppies become well-adjusted with different situations, experiences and people. These are skills that the dogs would benefit from when they are later assigned to provide future assistance to their owner with a disability.
Although assistance dogs have traditionally helped people with disabilities, such as blindness or, more recently, deafness or mobility disabilities, there is a wide range of other disabilities that an assistance dog may help with, as well, including psychiatric disabilities. A psychiatric service dog is a specific type of service dog trained to assist its handler with psychiatric disabilities, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia.
Like all assistance dogs, a psychiatric service dog is individually trained to do work or perform tasks that mitigate the handler's disability. Training to mitigate a psychiatric disability may include: providing environmental assessments, in cases such as paranoia and hallucinations; signalling behaviours, such as interrupting repetitive or injurious behaviours; reminding the handler to take medication; retrieving objects; guiding the handler from stressful situations; or acting as a brace if the handler becomes dizzy.
I note that the bill's proposed definition of service animal requires the animal be certified, in writing, as having been trained by a professional service animal institution to assist a person with a disability. In this respect, the bill is consistent with Part VII of the Canadian air transportation regulations.
Responding to concerns about how to make air travel as accessible as possible for passengers with disabilities, while at the same time respecting necessary measures to protect the collective safety of all passengers and crews, Part VII of the Canadian air transportation regulations requires airlines engaging in domestic airline operations, using an airplane with 30 or more passenger seats, to permit service animals used by individuals with a disability to accompany the person on a flight. The animal must be properly harnessed in accordance with standards established by a professional service animal institution.
However, the air transportation regulations require that the service animal be certified, in writing, by a professional service animal institution as having been trained to assist a person.
The bill has taken a similar approach in requiring the certification of the service animal. For example, the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind issues an identification card, certifying that both the dog and the passenger, with the disability, have each completed the training provided by the organization.
Most service animal institutions provide an ID card, but some may provide a certificate, a licence, or identification papers, confirming that the service animal has completed the required training.
Air Canada allows certified, professionally trained service animals that are assisting customers with disabilities to be carried free of charge in the passenger cabin, at the customer's feet. The animal must be harnessed, and certified as having been trained to assist a person with a disability by a professional service animal institution.
Air Transat's policy is similar. When accompanied by certification and documentation and travelling with a person with a disability, certified service dogs are welcome in the passenger cabin of its aircraft.
This requirement for certification is entirely appropriate.
Certification entails training at an approved training facility in accordance with set standards. For example, in British Columbia, to receive a guide animal certificate, dogs are the only type of animal that can be certified. The guide/service dog must be trained by a training facility that has been approved by the B.C. minister of justice. This includes all dogs accredited by Assistance Dogs International or the International Guide Dog Federation. The B.C. minister of justice has also approved a number of other schools that train to the same standard. Upon successful completion of the program, the training facility provides a graduation certificate.
Once a dog is certified, a disabled person who is accompanied by a certified guide or service dog has the same rights, privileges, and obligations as a person who is not accompanied by a dog. Specifically, they may enter and use any accommodation, public transportation, eating place, lodging place, or any other place to which the public is invited.
Bill C-35 would require that the special role played by law enforcement animals, military animals, and service animals is specifically recognized by criminal law.
I want to carry on with something that is a little more familiar to me, and that is the service dogs that we saw in this place yesterday, the service dogs that are utilized by the RCMP, the OPP, and the Ottawa Police Service. These are the service dogs we are most accustomed to when we hear about these types of things. I want to zero in on the RCMP service dogs specifically, which I am more familiar with.
RCMP service dogs were established in 1935 by then commissioner MacBrien. He recognized that the dogs that had been utilized since 1908 in a volunteer capacity had such an immense opportunity to be utilized by police that he enacted, in 1937, an RCMP training school for police handling dogs. In 1940, the RCMP won its first case in Canada involving a dog search.
Within a very short period of time, service dogs were created with the RCMP in mind, and other police forces across Canada. They became invaluable.
In 1965, the RCMP dog services moved from Calgary to Innisfail, Alberta, where they are today. Every RCMP dog in Canada is trained at Innisfail. It is commanded by one officer in charge, ten non-commissioned officers, and six public staff members.
Police service dogs, as we saw here in this place yesterday, can be utilized for a lot of other opportunities, such as missing persons, tracking persons, finding narcotics, finding explosives, and crime scene evidence. They can track evidence that has been dumped by a person whom the police believe has done a crime. They are used for VIP protection. We will see police dogs on the Hill when an important person is visiting the Prime Minister. They are used for crowd control and in hostage situations. Most important, as I mentioned, they were utilized a lot yesterday. We may not have seen them, but they were here. These dogs are why Bill C-35 must pass through the House quickly.
I want to remind the House of a few incidents in Canada's history with regard to police service dogs. I will go back in time a bit so members can understand where we are today.
On May 25, 1965, the first police service dog was killed. PSD Cindy was stationed in Crescent Valley, British Columbia. She was dispatched with her handler to a situation with a barricaded person. The dog attempted an apprehension but was stabbed to death. However, as a result of the dog making the initial attack on that person, it saved two lives. It saved the handler's life and that of another investigator.
Then, on December 18, 1967, Vancouver Police Department's service dog Valiant was murdered. He was attempting to apprehend an escaped convict who was serving time for murder. He was sent into the location, located the suspect under a bed, and was shot. The dog continued to guard the suspect until the suspect was taken into custody.
One must remember when it comes to Bill C-35 and what we are trying to introduce with respect to police service dogs being harmed in action, that these dogs are unrelenting in their job. They will protect their handler at all costs. They will protect any person they are charged to protect, at all costs.
The next police service dog that was killed in action was on August 31, 1975. He was an Ontario Provincial Police dog, PSD Cloud II. Again, the dog was searching for a murder suspect. He tracked and apprehended the suspect, but the suspect had a gun and shot the police service dog.
Coming back to Bill C-35, here is what is important. In this specific case, there were no charges laid for killing the dog. There were no charges whatsoever. The importance of Bill C-35 is in recognizing that these dogs are not normal dogs that people have in their homes. These dogs have a role to play in society. They are here to protect us. They understand that their job is to do what we may not be able to do sometimes. We have a very difficult time in tracking, and doing a lot of things that dogs are more than capable of doing.
On May 11, 1976, Vancouver police dog, PSD Justin, was shot at. The dog had apprehended a suspect but was subsequently stabbed several times. The dog was able to continue holding the suspect until his handler and other investigators were able to apprehend. The dog passed away several minutes later.
Again, it shows the importance of Bill C-35 in recognizing that these dogs are invaluable. They were brought forth about 80 years ago by the RCMP, and many years before that by other police forces. We recognize the important and valuable contribution that they give to not only police officers but to other Canadians across this land in other types of scenarios.
The next dog to be killed was in Chilliwack, on September 13, 1996. It was again with respect to a person search. The person ran into the bush, after what I will call a gas and dash and failing to stop for the police. The dog picked up the scent of the suspect and went into the bush. He was able to apprehend the suspect, but unfortunately was stabbed several times.
As I have mentioned many times, the dog is the lead in these types of investigations. The handlers have the utmost trust in their dogs, and the dogs have the utmost trust in their handlers. Bill C-35 recognizes this importance.
The next police service dog to be killed in action was PSD Caesar, of the Edmonton City police force, on June 23, 1998. There was an armed standoff and the dog was utilized to attack the assailant. The dog was shot point-blank and died almost immediately. However, that gave the police enough time to apprehend the suspect, and no other officers were injured.
The next police service dog was PSD Bandit, on June 25, 2000, in Nova Scotia. The police service dog was tracking a suspect who had been involved in a domestic dispute. He was able to track and find the suspect. Unfortunately, the suspect had a knife and stabbed the dog several times. The dog passed away, but the handler and other investigators were able to apprehend the suspect without further incident.
On May 20, 2001, RCMP PSD Cyr, in Saskatoon, was sent in to apprehend an armed suspect and was shot three times.
Members can see where I am going with this. The dogs are vitally important to the police from coast to coast to coast, with respect to tracking, finding, and apprehending suspects. However, from time to time they unfortunately pay the ultimate price, a price which tends to be forgotten when it is a police service animal.
There are several other incidents of police service dogs dying, but the last one I will talk about is the one mentioned in this specific bill, Bill C-35. Quanto was a police service dog for the Edmonton Police Service. He was attempting to apprehend a person who had stolen a car. The police located the suspect, but Quanto was stabbed several times and succumbed to his injuries. However, the police were able to apprehend the suspect.
In every one of these instances, the police service dogs instinctively protected their handlers and put their lives in front of their human counterparts'. Police service dogs are the epitome of man's best friend. Under command, or sometimes instinctively, they will protect their handler at all costs. As I have illustrated many times, they will fight and sacrifice themselves before they allow their handler to be put into harm's way. Bill C-35 pays tribute to these animals. It recognizes that if a person does harm to an animal there will be consequences, as there should be.