On their site, The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) sent a survey to Canada’s 5 main political parties about important animal welfare issues in the country.The (WSPA) encourages people to review their responses before making a decission at the time of voting.
Animal Cruelty Legislation
Canada’s animal cruelty laws were amended recently to increase maximum penalties for some animal cruelty offences. Unfortunately, these changes do very little to address loopholes in the current law that allow animal cruelty to go unpunished.
Does your party support strengthening the animal cruelty provisions under the Criminal Code and if so, what amendments would the party propose?
Are you willing to bring forward new amendments in the next parliamentary session?
New Democrats recognize that animal welfare is very important. We support strengthening provisions of the Cruelty to Animals Section of the Criminal Code of Canada to discourage violence and cruelty against animals and to punish those responsible for such acts.
We continue to support meaningful legislation to provide real protection for animals. The abuse of any vulnerable creature, human or otherwise, is something that we should all take extremely seriously. Specifically, the NDP are on record in support of amending the Criminal Code to:
• move animals out of property law and extend protections to wild animals and strays,
• make it illegal to train animals for fighting or profit from animal fighting,
• close loopholes that allow 99 per cent of those charged with animal cruelty to escape conviction.
We fought tirelessly in the past to get these important amendments through the House of Commons. We agree that the legislation Bill S-203, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals), is deeply flawed and that is why we joined the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) in opposing this Bill.
On November 6th, 2009, the House of Commons adopted a motion calling on the Canadian government to support (in principle) the development of a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW). This motion was supported by all of Canada’s political parties. Later, in March, the Minister of Foreign Affairs confirmed the government’s support for development of a UDAW.
Does your party reaffirm its support, in principle, for development of a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW)?
What should Canada do to affirm its support for this international initiative?
New Democrats support the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare and will work with the Provinces, Territories, government departments and agencies and stakeholders to update Canada’s laws and policies on animal cruelty and welfare to reflect the principles of UDAW. Furthermore, we will provide ensure Canada plays a leadership role internationally to promote animal welfare.
This past fall, the government announced changes to regulations under Canada’s Health of Animals Act, which would more than double administrative monetary penalties for violating these regulations. This was welcome news and WSPA and our many Canadian animal welfare supporters appreciate these amendments. More substantive amendments to these same regulations have, we understand, been proposed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and await the government’s approval.
WSPA has already put forward a number of recommendations for improving Canada’s farm animal transport system including:
• Establishing maximum loading densities that would allow animals to stand in their natural position or lie down comfortably
• Considerably reducing the number of hours farm animals can be transported without food, water and rest.
• Increasing the number of animal inspectors responsible for enforcing the Health of Animals Regulations at slaughterhouses, auctions and roadside checkpoints and increasing the number of veterinary inspectors present during inspections.
Does your party commit to amending Canada’s animal transport regulations under the Health of Animals Act?
What amendments to the regulations would your party propose?
The NDP’s Agriculture critic, Alex Atamanenko, MP, has been working to promote policies that protect animals from the various stresses they may endure during the excessively long transport times allowed under the current regulatory regime.
He has been corresponding with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and meeting with officials since 2006 to urge them to move more quickly to modernize the current regulations around animal transportation. Although the CFIA has been studying this issue for several years, changes in regulations are still outstanding.
In 2008, Mr. Atamanenko had his motion passed at the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food (SCAAF) calling for CFIA officials to be brought before the Committee to present a briefing on the status of their regulatory review process. According to their presentation they were still working With the Justice Department and preparing the regulatory amendments for publication in the Canada Gazette to be followed by a public consultation process. In response to Mr. Atamanenko’s November, 2009 follow up letter, the CFIA indicated there was still no movement on this file.
Mr. Atamanenko also re-introduced his previous motion in the House of Commons. It states as follows:
M-436 – September 15, 2009 – Mr. Atamanenko (British Columbia Southern Interior) – That, in the opinion of the House, the government should immediately move to publish the revised regulations governing animal transportation under the Health of Animals Act.
What else would your party do to encourage a more sustainable and humane food system in Canada?
Canadians are looking to their government for a comprehensive food strategy to protect our food security and sovereignty. Agriculture Critic Alex Atamanenko led the New Democrat Food for Thought Tour and spoke to over a thousand Canadians about their thoughts and concerns about food. The results of the tour was the NDP’s Food for Thought report. You can find a copy of the report here: http://xfer.ndp.ca/FoodForThought/EN.pdf.
Is there any other animal welfare issue that you feel needs to be addressed? How would your party make a difference?
What other things will your Party do to improve animal protection in Canada?
New Democrats remain committed to working with stakeholders to promote animal welfare and prevent animal cruelty in Canada and around the world. We will continue work with to put forward legislative initiatives to protect animals like these ones:
In addition to tackling climate change, an NDP government will also work in collaboration with provinces, territories and Aboriginal people to work towards developing and implementing an ambitious, integrated conservation plan to protect Canada’s ecosystems, wildlife, and wilderness heritage, in addition to continuing progress on completing the national parks system. We will improve endangered species protection and establish a conservation fund to preserve wildlife habitat. In addition, we also will restore Canada’s Ambassador for the Environment and establish the Environment Commissioner as a separate and independent Officer of Parliament to provide effective oversight of the government’s environmental performance.
How do you personally demonstrate a commitment to animal welfare?
The abuse of any vulnerable creature, human or otherwise, is something we should all take seriously. I will continue to work with all stakeholders and my caucus to protect animals.
If animals could vote, what party would they vote for and why?
Animals would vote for the compassionate and principled party, the NDP!