Animal rights activists have been campaigning for stronger animal protection legislation in Canada, and in Ontario, for some time. Apparently some gesture has been made toward toughening Canadian laws with a private members bill - Bill S-203 - which has passed through the senate. However, according to the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, the new bill does nothing to address how Canadian law understands animal cruelty and constitutes criminal behaviour toward animals.
Some of the ways in which Bill S-203 has been deemed inadequate:
• it only covers animals that are “property”; therefore, “unowned” animals, such as strays and wildlife will not be protected.
• it does not include a clear and concise definition of “animal”
• it does not criminalize individuals who train or organize animals to fight other animals or those who bet on animal fights
• its proposed penalties are weak
• it does not make it an offence to kill an animal with brutal and/or vicious intent, whether or not the animal dies immediately
• it makes it virtually impossible to prosecute cases of neglect
An alternative private member's bill - Bill C-373 - has been proposed with what seems to be more support from animal rights group, although the CFHS website suggests that it is possible to support both bills...
I haven't been following the intricacies of these debates and don't know enough about either bill to evaluate them for myself. Nor am I entirely convinced that any law that could actually pass through the House of Commons would be adequate for the protection of animals as beings. I think we have a lot of work to do in terms of how we conceptualize our animal others before that's possible. But perhaps any improvement is better than no improvement?
Anyway, I was alerted to the timeliness of these debates over legislation on a message board I frequent and I am concerned enough to want to raise the issue here. If you're interested in doing a little research yourself, here are some of the suggested websites to check out:
CFHS on Federal Animal Cruelty Legislation in Canada
IFAW on Federal Animal Cruelty Legislation in Canada
http://www.ifaw.org/ifaw/general/defaul ... oid=208178
WSPA letter-writing campaign on Bill S-203
If you're interested in getting more involved - from CANADIANS FOR EFFECTIVE ANIMAL CRUELTY LEGISLATION (CEACL): Wild @ Heart Canada, Animal Rights Kollective II, and Cause for Paws ask that people to join in a rally this weekend to protest Bill-S203 and demand something more effective.
DATE: Sunday, March 30th, 2008
TIME: 1:30pm – 3:00pm
Speakers @ 2pm: Mark Holland, Liberal MP & Peggy Nash, NDP MP
Location: QUEEN'S PARK