Revise and update our criminal codes for animal rights in Canada

  • by: danielle alary
  • recipient: Government of Canada, and our

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.

Danielle Alary



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.

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