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Government (Finally) Moves to Close Bestiality Loophole

Animal Justice October 18, 2018

After a courtroom showdown and years of advocacy by Animal Justice, the federal government finally introduced legislation today to close Canada’s bestiality loophole. The new law also strengthens animal fighting offences. Animal Justice welcomes this news, but believes it is still not enough. The legislation still fails to deliver more comprehensive reform to Canada’s outdated animal cruelty laws.

Over two years ago, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that most forms of bestiality are not illegal under existing animal cruelty laws. Animal Justice intervened in the case to fight bestiality, and urged the federal government to take immediate action to update the laws once the shocking decision was released.

Yet it took years to see action. In 2016, the Liberal government killed a bill introduced by Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith that would have updated Canada’s archaic animal cruelty laws and addressed bestiality. The public was outraged, and in response government officials promised to launch broad consultations and improve the animal cruelty laws.

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel introduced a private member’s bill to address bestiality in 2017, and sponsored a parliamentary petition started by Animal Justice that gathered thousands of signatures. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Canadians have contacted the government, seeking stronger laws.

Although the government has finally taken action, Animal Justice believes that animals deserve far more than what they got. Canada still has some of the worst animal cruelty laws in the western world, and this legislation does nothing to change that. Surprisingly, the new laws don’t even give courts the ability to ban bestiality offenders from owning animals in the future, leaving vulnerable animals at risk of ongoing sexual abuse.

In the news release announcing the law, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould emphasized that the bill wouldn’t interfere with “farming, hunting, and trapping practices,” suggesting the government continues to listen to animal-use industries that profit from animal cruelty, rather than listening to the overwhelming majority of Canadians that support strengthening animal cruelty laws.

Animal Justice will push for changes to the new legislation to ensure those convicted of bestiality cannot own animals in the future, and will continue to fight for an overhaul of Canada’s last-century animal cruelty laws.

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Bestiality Bill Fails to Deliver on Promise to Fix Outdated Animal Cruelty Laws

Animal Justice October 18, 2018

OTTAWA – The federal government today introduced Bill C-84, legislation to close legal loopholes related to bestiality and animal fighting. Animal Justice supports the spirit of the amendments, but is deeply concerned that the legislation still fails to deliver on government promises to reform Canada’s outdated animal cruelty laws.

Most forms of bestiality in Canada have been considered legal since June 2016, when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in R. v. D.L.W. that only penetrative sexual acts with animals count as bestiality. The ruling left animals disturbingly vulnerable to sexual abuse. Animal Justice intervened in R. v. D.L.W., and after the decision called on the government to immediately introduce amendments to outlaw all bestiality.

Meanwhile, Canada’s criminal animal cruelty provisions are a century out of date, regularly resulting in animal abusers escaping criminal prosecution for sadistic cruelty. Two years ago, the government voted down legislation that would have modernized animal cruelty laws and brought them into line with modern values, including closing the bestiality loophole. (The legislation, Bill C-246, was introduced as a private member’s bill by Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, but was first drafted by the Liberal government in the late 1990s).

In December 2017, Conservative MP Michelle Rempel introduced a private member’s bill to close the bestiality loophole.

“The Liberal government set Canada back by decades when they voted down animal cruelty legislation. At the time, they promised to embark on broad consultations and comprehensive reform of our outdated animal cruelty laws,” said Camille Labchuk, a lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice. “Disappointingly, the new legislation only contains very minor measures related to bestiality and animal fighting. These provisions are welcome, but they should have been introduced as part of a larger package of desperately-needed animal cruelty reforms.

“Animal Justice will seek amendments to Bill C-84, as it does not currently give judges the ability to ban bestiality offenders from owning animals in the future—something that is standard for other animal cruelty offences under the Criminal Code.”

“Closing bestiality and animal fighting loopholes is literally the least this government could have done, and still leaves millions of animals in Canada out in the cold. The new law is remarkable for its narrow scope, and for the unacceptable length of time it took to be introduced. Canadians overwhelmingly support stronger animal cruelty laws, and it is shocking that the government has done so little to modernize our severely outdated laws. Why has it taken over two years and two private member’s bills to convince the government to act on bestiality? Where are the broader animal cruelty updates promised by the Liberal government?”

Canada’s animal cruelty laws have not been substantively updated since the 1950s and are considered among the worst in the western world. The new government legislation does nothing to change this.

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Bill C-84 can be downloaded here.

For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

Animal Justice

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Animal Welfare Complaint Filed After Footage Appears To Show Moving Cow Being Skinned Alive

Animal Justice August 28, 2018

MILTON, Ontario—An animal welfare complaint has been filed with provincial law enforcement authorities after a video appearing to show a cow moving its head while its skin is hacked off has gone viral on Twitter.

“Under Ontario law, it is illegal to cause animals to be in distress,” said Lawyer Anna Pippus, director of farmed animal advocacy for Animal Justice. “Removing the skin of a conscious animal would certainly qualify as causing distress. Authorities must investigate to determine whether the movements depicted in the video were the result of a conscious animal struggling to right itself while being cut up alive.”

Non-stun slaughter is permitted in Canada. Federal policy prohibits suspending or dragging sensible (conscious) animals, and requires immediate corrective action if animals return to sensibility. However, laws regulating slaughter do not apply when people are killing animals for their own consumption.

“It appears from this video that this cow may still be conscious while being skinned,” said Ontario-based veterinarian Dr. Maureen Harper said. “It is hard to say definitively that this is the case. Regardless, it is my opinion that non-stun or ritual slaughter is a cruel and inhumane practice and should be banned in this country. This case presents a perfect argument for this, as clearly the people in the video are not trained to asses whether or not the animal is dead prior to being skinned.”

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association is opposed to slaughter without stunning because “it causes avoidable pain.” The British Veterinary Association, Farm Animal Welfare Council, EU Scientific Panel on Animal Health and Welfare, and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe have also issued position statements opposing slaughter without stunning.

Many countries have already banned or restricted non-stun slaughter, including Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Australia.

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For more information, contact:

Anna Pippus
Director of Farmed Animal Advocacy
apippus@animaljustice.ca

 

 

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