A private member’s bill entitled the “Modernizing Animal Protections Act” will receive second reading on September 28, 2016. The bill is set for a vote in Canada’s House of Commons late next week.
While the off-the-hop goals of avoiding shark harvesting in Canadian waters and shutting down puppy mills seem in line with the title, the bill, put forward by Liberal MP for Beaches-East York Nathaniel Erksine-Smith, goes much further than that. (You can read about the bill here).
Bill C-246 leaves enough to translation that it could, potentially, criminalize not just livestock agriculture, but hunting and fishing as well.
Section 182.1 (1) states: Everyone commits an offence who, willfully or recklessly, (b) kills an animal or, being the owner, permits an animal to be killed, brutally or viciously, regardless of whether the animal dies immediately.
That’s just one area of the bill the Ontario Federation of Agriculture takes issue with. There’s no clarification on what “brutally or viciously” means, and, like similar bills that have gone before this one, animal activists have stated they plan to use the bill in costly court cases to test the legal applications. Bill C-246 also puts the onus on the defendant to prove innocence, undermining the presumption of innocence, and doesn’t address enforcement – something that everyone agrees is a fundamental problem when applying animal protection laws, says OFA.
Don McCabe, president of OFA, spoke with Lyndsey Smith on what the bill could mean for agriculture and why his organization encourages all MPs to vote against the bill next week.