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Bill S-203 is a sham

badger
March 25th, 2008, 11:52 PM
Scarce improvement for animals
A.S.A. HARRISON

Special to Globe and Mail Update

March 25, 2008 at 6:22 PM EDT

If Bill S-203 is passed in April or May, when it comes to a third and final reading in the House of Commons, our animal friends will suffer. The bill, which purports to update Canada's Animal Cruelty Act, is a sham. Some of its critics say that its only function is to earn brownie points for politicians who want to be seen as humane. The bill's critics include practically every animal protection group in Canada, from the SPCAs and humane societies to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and grassroots organizations.

MPs planning to vote in favour of S-203 say that, granted, it's not a great improvement over the old laws, but it is "a step in the right direction" that's "better than nothing." But that's pure bull. S-203 is a useless piece of legislation, a blocking tactic that will stall forward movement and do nothing to help animals.

The bill, tabled by Liberal Senator John G. Bryden, makes just one change to laws that have been in mothballs since 1892, when Victoria was Queen and the term "cattle," as defined in the Criminal Code, referred not only to cows but to horses, pigs, sheep and goats. The change (drum-roll, please): It gives judges greater flexibility in sentencing.

Stronger penalties you say? Neigh, neigh. Intent to harm must still be shown, and this makes it nearly impossible to get convictions, especially in cases of negligence. Fewer than 1 per cent of animal abuse complaints are successfully prosecuted, and S-203 will do nothing to change that. What good are stronger penalties when we can't get convictions? Take the recent case of 29 horses that starved to death in Alberta earlier this year. (An additional 100 horses were seized from the same property, all suffering from malnutrition.) The case will not even be prosecuted because the chance of conviction is slim to none.

Compared with other developed countries, Canada is shamefully behind in its animal cruelty laws. For one thing, only animals that are somebody's "property" are protected so do what you like to stray or wild animals.

But wait! There is hope! Namely, legislation that would actually be effective, in the form of Bill C-373, also tabled as a private member's bill, by Liberal MP Mark Holland. This bill introduces the term "negligent" and defines it as "departing markedly from the standard of care that a reasonable person would use." It prohibits the killing of any animal (owned or unowned) without a lawful excuse. (Lawful excuses include hunting, fishing, farming, euthanasia and self-protection.)

It outlaws killing an animal brutally or viciously, whether or not the animal dies immediately which means that the boys in Edmonton who tied a dog to a tree and beat it to death would not get off on the basis that it died on the first blow (according to the examining vet) and therefore didn't suffer. Other provisions deal with aspects such as fighting and baiting. Perhaps best of all, C-373 moves these laws out of the property chapter of the Criminal Code, reflecting the contemporary view of animals as sentient beings, rather than possessions.

C-373 is virtually identical to a bill put forward by Paul Martin's government and passed by the House of Commons, only to die in the Senate. MPs know that most Canadians support progressive animal abuse legislation. Mr. Bryden tabled S-203 in response to the concerns of hunters and trappers, and the Conservative government has been working hard to push it through.

Rallies against S-203 are scheduled for Sunday in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa and Windsor.

dustybird
March 26th, 2008, 04:07 PM
I just don't get it.... they pass stupid new law's etc... all the time without even looking into it. Yet they won't pass a law that everyone is in favour of, they passed the no spring bear hunt in a week-end without looking into it. Why will they not protect the non-humans that live in this "great country of ours". Everyone know's that animal abuse leads to human abuse. Tougher laws will I would hope also put and near end to puppy mills and perhaps drop the number of stray's wandering the streets or in shelter. We need a law that is tougher in a lot of ways not just abuse. Oh your pet isn't fixed here's your fine( if your not a regestered breeder or have note from your vet because the "vet" decided the animal was too old or whatever for surgery). Something that will make people take responsibility...but then we need tougher laws all around to make people take responsibility for their actions.

Sorry got a little off topic just:wall: trying to understand why it's so hard to get the law changed. The vet's and spca's(they see the results everyday from our poor useless laws) should be the ones who say this is what we want and what will work now pass the damn thing. Are the people in the government really not even a little bit animal lovers?

Love4himies
March 27th, 2008, 06:03 AM
Something that will make people take responsibility...but then we need tougher laws all around to make people take responsibility for their actions.

Sorry got a little off topic just:wall: trying to understand why it's so hard to get the law changed. The vet's and spca's(they see the results everyday from our poor useless laws) should be the ones who say this is what we want and what will work now pass the damn thing. Are the people in the government really not even a little bit animal lovers?

Oh so well said, dustybird and have wondered the same thing myself! CDN's do NOT find it acceptable to abuse animals, they are now considered part of the family, they now know that animal abuse is an indication of human abuse. Why is it so hard for gov't to pass a law that I believe the majority of CDNs want???? Other senseless laws seem to get passed so easily:confused:.

badger
March 27th, 2008, 08:07 AM
Special interest groups (hunters, fishers, farmers) have been fighting more protection for animals, in case it interferes with their right to finally get that big rack for their wall or starve their horses at will. They think the law would be 'the thin edge of the wedge' and have nightmares about PETA turning up on their doorstep drenched in fake blood.
I believe concessions were made but it wasn't enough.
I don't have to tell you who these whiners generally vote for.

Love4himies
March 27th, 2008, 08:17 AM
It is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease isn't it. Hunters and farmers seem to have very organized groups that speak out for them. There is a huge difference between neglect/abuse and hunting (well, ethical hunting).