We asked Canada’s five main political parties what they will do to improve animal welfare.
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We would like to know your party’s track record supporting and championing animal welfare initiatives during the last parliamentary session.
A) Did your party support the following bills?
Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, Bill S-203 ☑ Yes ☐ No
An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting), Bill C-84 ☑ Yes ☐ No
Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act, Bill S-214 ☑ Yes ☐ No
B) Did your party support or champion other animal welfare initiatives? ☑ Yes ☐ No
Please tell us more about these initiatives: Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green Party, was the House sponsor of Bill S-203 and campaigned and collaborated extensively to get it passed. She was also a joint-seconder on the various bills to tackle the practice of shark finning (S-238 was the latest) and introduced her own bill on the subject (C-417). She put forward amendments to strengthen Bill C-84, during the committee stage of consideration. She called publicly for the Senate to stop holding up Animal Rights legislation. She joined other advocates in publicly calling for improved federal transport regulations for animals. And, she sponsored petitions on animal rights in the House of Commons, including electronic petition e-1580 and numerous paper petitions, such as this one to ban animal testing, which is hosted on her website.
Animal sentience is conscious awareness. It means that animals can feel pain and suffer and experience positive emotions such as joy. Animal welfare refers to an animal’s physical, and psychological wellbeing and is determined by how an animal is coping with the conditions in which it lives. Canada has no national animal welfare legislation and there is no one department or body with responsibility over animal welfare.
A) Does your party have a formal animal welfare policy that recognizes animal sentience. If not, does the party support developing one? ☑ Yes, currently have a party policy on animal welfare ☐ No, but support developing a party policy on animal welfare ☐ No policy and do not support developing a policy on animal welfare
B) Does your party support creating a new Federal Animal Protection Act that recognizes animals as sentient beings and to improve animal welfare nationally? ☑ Yes ☐ No
The Criminal Code of Canada is the primary legislation that makes animal cruelty a criminal offence. While it was recently amended to ban bestiality and animal fighting, outdated language remains in the text since first drafted in the 1890s. For example, the Criminal Code still requires that for neglect to be prosecuted, it must be “wilful”, thus requiring proof that the cruelty was deliberate. In addition, each province has its own animal welfare legislation meaning that animals in some provinces are better protected than others. Animal cruelty is still considered a property crime, which fails to acknowledge that animals are sentient beings worthy of protection in their own right. “Unowned” animals should not receive less protection than “owned” animals.
Does your party support:
A) An amendment to the Criminal Code to allow for the prosecution of animal cruelty and neglect cases without proof that the intent was wilful? ☑ Yes ☐ No
B) Moving animal cruelty provisions out of the property section in the Criminal Code and into a separate section to reflect the fact that animals are sentient and should be protected in their own right – regardless of whether someone owns them? ☑ Yes ☐ No
C) Collecting and making publicly available, statistics on animal cruelty offences and enforcement actions taken? ☑ Yes ☐ No
Adoption by the UN General Assembly of a UDAW would represent a formal international acknowledgement of a set of principles on animal welfare. If adopted, the international community would acknowledge that animals are sentient beings and their welfare should be respected, by ensuring that all appropriate steps be taken by Member States to prevent cruelty to animals and to reduce their suffering.
The UDAW will provide a benchmark for animal welfare standards for governments, farmers, businesses, non-governmental organisations and anyone involved in working with animals.
Good animal welfare benefits animals, people and the environment and contributes to the achievement of the Post 2015 Agenda and sustainable development goals through delivering on the vision of a “world in which humanity lives in harmony with nature and in which wildlife and other living species are protected”. It can help tackle poverty, enhance livelihoods and food security including in times of disaster, address climate change, reduce the risk of zoonotic disease and anti-microbial resistance, and help protect essential ecosystems and biodiversity.
On Friday, November 6, 2009, the House of Commons of Canada agreed to a motion raised under Private Members’ Business “That, in the opinion of the House, the the government should support, in principle, the development of a UDAW at all relevant international organizations and forums.” In May 2010, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the Government of Canada is supportive in principle of a UDAW.
A) Would your party be prepared to commit, in principle, to a UDAW, if one was to be put before the United Nations? ☑ Yes ☐ No
B) Would your party be prepared to champion, a UDAW, if one was to be put before the United Nations? ☑ Yes ☐ No
In June 2019, Canada passed legislation to ban the breeding, display and trade of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) for entertainment. However, there are no other provisions at a national level restricting the use of other species of wildlife that similarly suffer for entertainment.
Does your party support further regulations to restrict or end the use of wild animals for human entertainment in Canada (activities where wild animals are forced to perform circus-like tricks in shows, give people rides or be handled for photos)? ☑ Yes ☐ No
Canada can play a leadership role in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to ensure the international trade of wildlife is not harmful for the survival of species. The most recent UN Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services confirms we are experiencing a mass extinction, in large part exacerbated by human activities.
Would your party be willing to take these facts into serious consideration and place a higher priority on the preservation of wildlife at CITES and other relevant international meetings? ☑ Yes ☐ No
In Canada, there is a patchwork of federal, provincial, and municipal laws and regulations governing the trade and ownership of exotic animals. While laws and regulations do exist, they vary greatly across the country and leave many gaps and loopholes. At the federal level, permits are required for animal species that are threatened by trade and are listed in the appendices of the CITES, but many exotic species are not covered. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) regulates the trade of some animal species, such as turtles, which are required to have a permit when imported into Canada but, most animals are not covered. There are few federal laws or regulations that restrict the trade or keeping of exotic animals for animal welfare, human health and safety or environmental reasons. Not all provinces have meaningful laws or regulations that adequately address exotic animal trade, ownership and other issues and a few provinces have simply downloaded the responsibility for dealing with these issues to individual municipalities to address.
Would your party support stronger regulations on the import, export and ownership of wild animals that are deemed too difficult to keep humanely and safely as pets, are a risk to human health and safety or pose a risk to native species and biodiversity? ☑ Yes ☐ No
Last year, Canada introduced the Ocean Plastics Charter and signed onto the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI). Since then, they have begun to implement several initiatives to reduce consumer plastic pollution and lost and abandoned fishing gear.
If elected, would your government continue to support these programs? ☑ Yes ☐ No
Additional comments: To reduce and mitigate plastic waste from fishing gear that entangles and kills marine animals, by January 2021 the Green Party would implement an Extended Producer Responsibility program for all companies making or selling synthetic fishing gear which would fund the retrieval of lost or abandoned fishing gear, commonly known as ghost nets, and the collection and recycling of old, damaged, and recovered fishing gear.
The National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) is a multi-stakeholder body responsible for developing and updating codes of practice for farm animals based on the latest scientific evidence and stakeholder input. It is now updating the codes for animals during transport, - dairy cows and goats, and creating a new code for finfish. These are the minimum standards for on-farm animal care; however, the codes are currently voluntary. On-farm animal care falls under provincial jurisdiction. Some provinces, such as Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island, incorporate the codes of practice in their animal cruelty legislation and stipulate that the codes of practice must be followed.
Would your party support a federal directive that makes the codes mandatory? ☑ Yes ☐ No
Additional comments: Though, specifically because it is provincial jurisdiction, the federal government could not make it mandatory.
World Animal Protection has researched and documented the appalling injuries and suffering of farm animals that are transported to slaughter and has raised concern about the shortage of specially trained animal welfare inspectors. While we are pleased the Government of Canada recently strengthened the animal transport regulations, we remain concerned about the long duration that animals can still be transported before receiving food, water and rest, as well as the potential limitations of CFIA’s inspection capacity. To ensure the new regulations protect animals from pain, suffering and mistreatment, monitoring and inspections must be frequent and inspection staff must have adequate knowledge and training in animal welfare.
A) Would your party support increasing the number of CFIA animal health and veterinary inspectors to increase the frequency of inspections, and requiring mandatory training in animal welfare? ☑ Yes ☐ No
B) Would you support a public review of the new regulations and how well they are being enforced? ☑ Yes ☐ No
Additional comments: The Green Party would work to adopt animal welfare legislation to prevent inhumane treatment of farm animals including in intensive factory farming operations. This will set minimum standards of treatment and have a timetable for phasing out intensive factory farming and other inhumane animal husbandry practices. It will set standards for distances live animals can be transported, and conditions for animals in slaughterhouses and auctions.
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