Did you know that???
Dog fighting is not a federal crime
Federal animal cruelty laws requires proof that the accused intended to harm or kill an animal
Bestiality is only an federal offence if penetration was part of the act
“While the House of Commons has passed new animal cruelty legislation three times, those bills either got caught up in prorogues or were blocked by the Senate before they made it past the finish line” (see Bill C-246 Will Close Animal Cruelty Loopholes for more details)
Given the many barriers animal advocates have historically faced in getting their voices heard in government, it is not surprising that the goal of the first e-petition set out to ban the use and sale of shock collars for pets.
Hailed as an easy way for everyday Canadians to participate in the democratic process, the introduction of House of Common e-petitions created a lot of excitement and optimism towards the ability to create change. The response, however, begs the question of how seriously will government take the matters brought to parliament through this process. They are, after all, a reflection of the peoples’ voice.
Having received the required number of signatures to make its way into parliament, the issue expressed in the petition was presented to the House of Commons for discussion and a response was tabled on April 11, 2016.
In what appears to be common practice among all levels of government in responding to animal welfare issues, the Federal government abdicated their responsibility in the protection and promotion of animal welfare and claimed that the “investigation and prosecution of where conduct, such as the use of shock collars, is the responsibility of the provinces and territories” (See complete response here).
The argument that animal welfare is a provincial and territorial responsibility is constitutionally inaccurate. If that were the case, there would not be provisions in the Criminal Code that specifically set out to protect animals and punish animal abusers. In addition, as Bill C-246 (Modernizing Animal Protection Act) makes its way through parliament, it is very concerning that our Minister of Justice and Attorney General is on record as not only stating the current federal laws are adequate, but also, that the provinces and territories “can make laws that protect and promote animal welfare”.
We find ourselves in a conundrum. Federal animal protection laws have not changed since they were enacted in 1892. In response to this antiquated approach to animal welfare, and in an attempt to protect animals, provinces and territories across the country have created stronger legislation. In fact BC has some of the toughest legislation protecting animals in the country. As a result, there are very few cases prosecuted under the Criminal Code, which means those that are charged and convicted provincially will not receive a criminal record. In addition, any restrictions placed on them as part of their conviction, such as the ability to have animals in their care, does not apply outside of the province they were charged. So if an individual is charged in BC for operating a puppy mill, there is nothing stopping them from moving to another province and setting up another mill. As eloquently articulated by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, “It is absurd to have a federal Criminal Code that is so inadequate that it has become virtually obsolete due to much stronger provincial acts in many regions.”
Despite our nation’s love for animals, Canada’s response to animal welfare is far behind many developed countries in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The greatest irony is that because of stronger provincial legislation, the federal government’s response to motions for stronger federal laws, is that they are not necessary because provincial governments have taken responsibility. But we can not let them off the hook.
It is 2016. It is time for a change. Take Action Your voice matters.
Paws for Hope Animal Foundation is a BC animal welfare charity dedicated to creating sustainable animal welfare and purposeful animal protection in British Columbia.
Our work is possible because of your support. Your donations make a difference in lives of companion animals.