This thesis intoduction written by summerizes very well how we need to re examine animal rights. I grew up being told by teachers that animals were not intelligent and had no feelings. As a child I argued that he did not know animals, and that if he did, he would not be saying that.Our legal system has chosen to close their eyes, tell tell, is it for money, or ignorance. Either one, is not acceptable in a country such as ours. Please take a moment and read the thesis of
The Politics of Animal Anti-Cruelty Legislation in Canada: An Analysis of Parliamentary
Debates on Amending the Criminal Code
Antonio Robert Verbora
Good work, that may inspire many, and perhaps our legal system.
In recent years the Canadian media has reported on some gruesome cases of
animal abuse. There was the Toronto cat skinning case; the three youths that killed a cat
in the microwave while they listened to its shrieks of pain; the man in New Brunswick
who beat five of his dogs to death with a hammer; and the border collie mix, Daisy Duke,
who was beaten, bound, and dragged behind a car in Didsbury, Alberta (Canadian
Federation of Humane Societies 2010). None of these heinous cases has been enough to
catalyze the development of legislation fit for a 21
st century society. In fact, animals in
Canada are arguably less safe than in Ukraine or the Philippines, both of which have
stronger legislation in place to protect animals (Hughes and Meyer 2000; Sorenson 2010;
Wise 2003). It is clear that Canada's animals need better protection from deliberate acts
of cruelty. While there have been numerous attempts to amend the Criminal Code to
reflect this need, the only change was made in April 2008, and the amendments, which
were supported by the livestock industries, simply increased the potential punishment for
animal abusers. The amendments fail to protect animals in numerous, important ways.
Sorenson (2010: 155) delineates the many loopholes in the current law as follows:
“Canada does not even clearly define “animal” while other countries are explicit. Unlike
others, our cruelty provisions only apply to animals “kept for a lawful purpose,” so
Canada offers almost no protection for wild and stray animals because they are not
considered anyone’s property.” The provisions related to animal fighting are also
problematic: individuals must be present in order to be charged and, unlike other
countries, breeding, training and profiting from fighting animals is not illegal here.
“These loopholes allow abuse to continue even when police have evidence” (Sorenson
2010: 156). Also, the Criminal Code makes it almost impossible to prosecute animal
neglect. The Code refers to “wilful neglect,” meaning that animal neglect must
deliberate (other countries do not face the task of proving wilful intent and motives).
Other legal limitations include the following: the consequences for convictions remain
light and Canada does not impose permanent prohibitions against owning animals for
convicted abusers (Sorenson 2010).
This research explores attempts to amend the animal anti-cruelty provisions in the
Canadian Criminal Code from 1999 to present. This study builds upon Létourneau
(2003), Sorenson (2003), and Skibinsky’s (2005) research on anti
-cruelty provisions in
Canada and the impact of the provisions on the status of animals. Using thematic
analysis, I analyze the parliamentary debates (Hansards) regarding proposed anti-cruelty
amendments to the Criminal Code. This study goes beyond identifying the stakeholders
on both sides and assesses how the resistance to the amendments is articulated and
rationalized, as well as the grounds upon which proponents argue in favour of amending
the anti-cruelty provisions. In doing so, this paper provides insight into the political
landscape surrounding animal anti-cruelty legislation in Canada.