More than 80 Members of Parliament voted in favour of Bill C-246, the Modernizing Animal Protections Act, at second reading in the House of Commons. While the bill was defeated, the high level of political and public support for the initiative sends a strong message to the Liberal government that urgent action is needed. Introduced by MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, the bill included basic measures to strengthen the animal welfare provisions in our Criminal Code, stop Canadian trade in products of shark finning and cat and dog fur, and require labeling of fur products by species.
Rebecca Aldworth, executive director for HSI/Canada, stated:
“We are heartened that 84 Members of Parliament from all political parties showed their support for modernizing Canada’s animal protection laws. While we are deeply disappointed to see the bill defeated at second reading, the Liberal government now has an important opportunity and responsibility to advance the measures within the bill. Humane Society International/Canada looks forward to continuing to work with government and stakeholders to bring Canada’s animal welfare laws into the 21st century.”
The animal cruelty sections in the Criminal Code were first enacted in 1892, and the offences have not been meaningfully updated since 1954. A recent poll found that 92 percent of Canadians agree that the Criminal Code should be updated to make it easier to convict people who commit acts of cruelty to animals (Environics Research, 2015).
Bill C-246 would have:
- Strengthened the animal welfare provisions in the Criminal Code, making it easier to convict those who neglect animals by failing to provide suitable food, shelter and care.
- Criminalized profiting from animal fighting and banned training, breeding and transporting animals for the purpose of fighting.
- Closed the loopholes that allowed fewer protections for cruelty for unowned animals, such as wildlife and street dogs and cats.
- Strengthened sentences for repeat animal abusers.
- Closed a possible loophole that could allow some cases of bestiality to go unprosecuted.
- Prohibited the practice of shark finning in Canadian waters and banned the import of shark fins not attached to the carcass. A 2013 Environics Research poll found that 81 percent of Canadians support a ban on the trade in products of shark finning.
- Banned the import and sale of cat and dog fur in Canada and required that fur be labeled by species.
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