Bill C-246 Defeated in the attempt to Modernize Animal Cruelty Laws
Our laws here in Canada are among the worst in the Western World in addressing animal cruelty. Bill C-246, if passed, would have closed the loopholes in these laws that let animal abusers escape criminal prosecution and conviction. In 2016, Nathaniel Erskine- Smith, Liberal Member of Parliament for the Beaches-East York area, introduced a private members’ bill. This Bill has been proposed and debated since 1999 and had failed to pass several times before, due to special interest groups representing hunters, farmers, and fisherman. They thought if this Bill passed it would in some way affect them. Manitoba’s Conservative Robert Sopuck, called Bill C-246, a Trojan Horse designed to advance the agenda of animal rights extremists. Using these scared tactics, that if passed, the bill could penalize someone who cooked a lobster by boiling it alive. Anglers and Hunters made it known they opposed the Bill and successfully lobbied MP’s not to pass it. Their fear was that anglers would be prosecuted under the law if they put a worm on a hook. A Toronto Liberal MP, fretted that by criminalizing the brutal or vicious killing of animals, this Bill could threaten what he called, “heritage activities”. Even though Bill C-246 Section 182.5 contained specific protection for Aboriginal Rights and Title.
Facts are, that animal cruelty laws target cases of blatant animal abuse and neglect, not legitimate uses of animals by industry. Lawful uses of animals such fishing; hunting, agricultural, and medical research would not have been affected by Bill C-246. This Bill was called the “Modernizing Animal Protection Act”, because such laws have not had a meaningful update since 1954!
The reason I, Cindy Cherry and my Dad did a Public Service Announcement in promoting Bill C-246 was because of some enlightening facts about what our country permits when it comes to animal cruelty. Click here to view our Public Service Announcement videos.
Bill C-246 was proposed to close the legal loopholes related to forcing animals to fight one another. It would have made it illegal to profit from animal fighting, and to train, breed, and transport animals for the purpose of fighting.
Did you know that dog and cat fur for garment use is perfectly legal in Canada? Most of this fur is imported from China, a country with few animal welfare laws. Footage from these dog and cat farms in China has revealed horrific conditions. The US and the entire European Union has banned such fur, but not Canada! Bill-246 would have banned the importation and sale of cat and dog fur into Canada. It is perfectly legal not to have proper labelling in fur products. Bill C-246 would have made it a requirement that if that leather jacket you bought was made out of dog hide, it would have been labelled as such. Not Now! Are you sure your ski jacket with its coyote trimmed hood is really coyote? (oh, and BTW, those coyotes are caught by leg hold traps, just thought I’d give you the heads up on that). Because of that fact, lo and behold, The Association of the Protection of Fur – Bearing Animals, a high profile organization, did support Bill C-246. Because I guess, imported dog & cat hide is a lot cheaper than coyote skin.
Another fact that most Canadians do not know is that wildlife, stray pets, and all unowned animals are virtually unprotected from cruelty and killing. It is not illegal to brutally beat an unowned animal to death for no reason so long as the animal dies quickly. Because of this loophole, a judge in Edmonton was forced to acquit two men who tied 2 dogs to a tree and beat it to death… Because the dogs died relatively quickly, their reprehensible actions were not a crime. Bill –C246 would have eliminate such loopholes, so prosecutors would stop relying on less serious provincial regulatory charges, which results in these abusers escaping a “criminal” conviction.
How many of you know the term “shark finning”? It is a largely unregulated industry that kills an estimated 100 million sharks per year. It is the practice of slicing off a usually fully conscious shark’s fins. Then, since their meat has little market value, it is tossed back into the sea to suffer a slow agonizing death. These fins are then dried and used in a Chinese delicacy known as shark fin soup. One pound of this delicacy can sell for $300 or more. Though some municipalities have banned the sale of shark fin products, in the last four years 492 tons have been imported by Canadians. Bill C-246 would have prohibited the practice of shark finning in Canadian waters, and ban the import of shark fins into the country. But not now.
Bill C-246 was important in that it addressed “Removing Crimes against Animals” from Property Offences. Animal cruelty offences are currently located in the property offences section of the Criminal Code. This Bill would have moved animal cruelty crimes to a new section of the Code called, “Offences against Animals”. While this would have been largely a symbolic change and would not have changed an animal’s legal status as property, it would have had an important recognition that animals deserve legal protection not because they are someone’s property, but because they are sentient beings who deserve to live free from abuse and suffering.
Remember, one of the many reasons animal abusers escape “criminal” convictions is because “willful neglect” has to be proven, which is unclear in the way the laws are written. If this Bill had passed, it would have updated and clarified what is a criminal offence in the neglect of an animal. As we now know, this Bill did not pass. How sad, but what is the next step? What can you do to get more involved in these injustices?
Nathaniel Erskine-Smith wants to hear from you. So if you are a compassionate Canadian who wants to submit ideas for change, regarding fur-labelling laws, puppy mill operations, importation of shark fins, cosmetic testing on animals, cetaceans in captivity, animal transportation regulations, ect. ect. go to www.protectanimals.ca . Whether it is forming a task force, parliamentary committee, or an animal welfare board reviewing existing laws, it can all start with you!