When was the last time you read an article or a social media post about an abused or neglected animal? Was it this week or last? This month? This season? If you live in Canada, I bet you score four out of four. Did you assume that someone was dealing with the situation, and hope that it would right itself? After all, Canadians are good people, right? Well, here's the reality: laws for animals are a toxic issue in this country, and let me tell you why.
Internationally, Canada has an appalling record -- a "D" rating, falling far behind other nations in the protection of animals. For the last 17 years, advocates have been trying to effect legislation that blasts us out of our sad, inexcusable reliance on the 1892 Act For Animals, into 2016. This year, Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, MP, has brought forward Bill C-246 "Modernizing the Animal Protections Act." If the Liberals can muster the will to get it done, it will go to committee for debate in September (for the 10th time in less than 20 years, on your tax dollars):
Prime Minister Trudeau's mandate letter to Justice Minister Wilson-Raybould earlier this year, stated "[w]e have promised Canadians a government that will bring real change -- in both what we do and how we do it." But don't get too excited. Animals didn't even make it onto his list of legal priorities for the justice minister. Why should they? Under Canadian law, animals are property -- like a couch, or a garbage pail. Your loving family companion is just an object with no feelings and no rights, per our judicial system.
Bill C-246 seeks to change that, and this is where the issue becomes toxic. The argument is about "animal abuse" v. "animal use" -- and that's an important distinction that Canadians in general, and animal use industries people in particular, (read: hunters/anglers/dairy/sealer/fishery groups) might pay attention to.
These powerful groups are doing everything they can to stop Bill C-246. Animal use industries folk state they would actually support the new legislation, if the terms "gross negligence" and "brutal and vicious treatment" were to be removed. They must have a reason; this isn't just "tinkering with language." These groups are all subject to provincial standards for animal care. If they adhere to said standards, what, pray tell, are they afraid of? Why would they insist on removing these terms? They say it would be a "slippery slope." I suggest that animal use industries, themselves, are "the slippery slope."
There are stark moral consequences to not passing Bill C-246.
More toxicity: the majority of rural Liberals want to be re-elected, so they're real gun-shy on voting this bill in, possibly because they don't want to upset animal use industries and jeopardize their future seats? Their response is to have a full review of the Criminal Code. More time. Oh, and animals, remember, aren't currently on the list.
Then there's the real subject of "animal abuse." You know, the guy who got away with taking a baseball bat to his dog and killing him. And how about that college-aged Toronto miscreant back in 2006, who skinned a cat alive in the name of art, and walked away? And the man who subjected his child to sexual abuse with an animal, and the Supreme Court of Canada had no recourse but to rely on the 1892 definition of sexual abuse. Yep, he got away with it too. These are just a small sampling of examples of real life, on-the-ground Canadian animal cruelty.
Animal advocates have done everything they can, repeatedly, for two decades now, to improve our legislation. MPs have been obliging, to the extent that they are always available to send out form letters in response to our inquiries, yet seemingly never available in the voting chamber.
There are stark moral consequences to not passing Bill C-246. I was raised to believe that if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. So how about it dear Liberals? Any chance you could stop turning your backs on Canadian animals, and honour the 92 per cent of the Canadian public, your constituents, who want this legislation?
We're calling on our prime minister, our justice minister, and all parliamentarians, to do what's right and be part of the solution. Let Bill C-246 pass into "Committee" and let the Liberals actually deliver on "a government that will bring real change -- in both what we do and how we do it."
If you want to be part of the solution for animals, click here.
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