07 October 2016

LEGISLATION - Updated Animal Cruelty Bill Defeated...Again

The decades-long lobby to amend Canada’s animal cruelty laws hit another dead end this week.

A private member’s bill from a Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine - Bill C-246, The Modernizing Animal Protections Act - was defeated at second reading by a vote of 198 to 84.

Bill C-246 sought to ban the import of shark fins, as well as the sale of cat and dog fur in Canada. It also aimed to amend Criminal Code provisions related to animal abuse, negligence, fighting, and bestiality.

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS), along with animal welfare organizations across the country, have been calling on the government to make changes to the animal cruelty sections of the Criminal Code of Canada for over 25 years.

“While countries all over the world have updated or enacted effective animal cruelty legislation, Canada remains in the Victorian era with a federal animal cruelty law that was introduced in 1892,” the CFHS website states.

The long and winding road to change the laws began with Bill C-17 in 1999, which died shortly after it was tabled when an election was called.

The Liberal government reintroduced the bill several times and it repeatedly died because of prorogation of parliament.

In 2003, Bill C-10B got the hopes of animal lovers across the country up as it was supported by all parties in the House of Commons, but the Senate blocked its passage.

Multiple bills have been tabled, read, debated and Bill C-592 even passed second reading in 2014 but did not become law.

The defeat of C-246 was yet another setback for those lobbying for better protection for animals.

“I’m very disappointed that our Parliament didn’t stand up for animals today and refer the bill to committee,” said Barbara Cartwright, CEO of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies.

“Animals are going to continue to be open to sexual abuse, stuck in fighting rings and being neglected — all without enforcement being able to do anything about it because of the way the legislation is written. As the representative for SPCAs and humane societies across the country, it’s a sad day.”

Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice, pointed out that 92 percent of Canadians surveyed want stronger animal cruelty laws.

“The fact is we can’t continue to treat animals like tables and chairs. Our cruelty laws need to be strong enough to be able to punish people to the full extent of the law when animals are abused,” Labchuk told iPolitics, noting Canada has some of the worst animal cruelty legislation in the western world.

In fact, the World Animal Protection Organization’s Animal Protection Index, released in 2014, gave Canada a ‘D’.

They cited a number of issues including: the outdated legislation; rules around farm animal transportation that allow animals to go for two days without food, water and rest; and inconsistent protection for wild animals.

Leading the way on the index with ‘A’ ratings were the U.K., Switzerland, Austria and New Zealand. Canada ranked below developing countries such as Brazil, India and the Philippines.

Judging by the number of times animal welfare organizations and individuals across the country have supported new legislation, circulated petitions and called for change, the defeat of C-246 will not be the end.

It’s clear after 25 years of effort, the push for change will continue.


  1. If the intent of the bill was so pure it would have passed... but it crossed into both commercial and economic activities far outside the world of pets. Effectively giving animals the same rights as the people writing the bill. While that may seem honourable and fair to some, a lot of your food would be involved in this and I don't think that's what people actually want.

    1. Thank you for your comment. We are currently researching a follow up article on the opposition to the various bills that have been brought forward over the years, so all feedback and perspectives are important to us.