Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Mark Holland campaigns for effective animal cruelty bill - now called Bill C-229

Mark Holland believes strongly in the need to reform the Criminal Code to better protect animals from intentional cruelty, and he has worked to raise the profile of this issue since first being elected in 2004.

On November 26, 2008, Mark re-introduced his private member's bill on animal cruelty. Now numbered C-229, it is identical to the private member's bill C-373 which he tabled in the 39th Parliament on October 30, 2006, and the former Bill C-50, introduced by the Liberal government in the 38th Parliament. Since first introducing Bill C-373, Mark has worked cooperatively with respected national and international animal welfare groups which are campaigning for effective animal cruelty law reform. Their concerted efforts are focused on convincing the Conservative government to introduce his bill as government legislation.

Provisions of the Criminal Code dealing with animal cruelty have changed very little since 1892 and they are extremely antiquated. This has often made it difficult to obtain convictions against animal abusers, and when convictions are obtained, the penalties are often too light. These laws were also written at a time when animals were protected by virtue of being property.

Shocking cases of animal abuse are often in the news. Most recently, in Didsbury, Alberta, a Labrador-border collie cross named Daisy Duke was tortured and dragged for a kilometre behind a vehicle, with duct tape around her legs and mouth and leaving a trail of blood. She had to be euthanized she was so badly injured, and her owner and a juvenile have been charged.

Serious violent criminals such as serial killers often begin with animal abuse, which can be an early indicator of crimes against people. Therefore, effective animal cruelty legislation can allow the justice system to intervene early in people who might go on to other serious crimes.

In 1999, the federal government introduced legislation to reform animal cruelty provisions as part of a larger omnibus bill of Criminal Code reforms. Over the years, the bill was broken up and many changes were made to address concerns of hunters, anglers, and others who use animals in their livelihoods. The revised bill was actually passed by the House of Commons several times in the springs of 2002 and 2003, but the House of Commons and Senate could not agree on amendments, and the bill has died a number of times on the order paper. Bill C-50, introduced in May 2005, was similar to previous bills, but addressed a concern raised in the Senate about aboriginal hunting rights. C-373 makes no changes from the former C-50.

The bill has always enjoyed support from major animal welfare groups, but in the fall of 2004, it obtained the support of most organizations representing animal use industries. This support, however, was shattered when an ineffective bill was introduced as a diversionary tactic in the Senate by Senator John G. Bryden. That bill, which was first numbered S-213 in the Senate, was strongly opposed by Mark and by animal welfare organizations such as the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies. Unfortunately, due to a difference in the rules for private members' business introduced in the House and the Senate, the ineffective S-203 raced through the Senate and was fast-tracked in the House while the more comprehensive C-373 remained stuck in a long queue of private members' bills introduced by MPs.

With the prorogation of Parliament in the fall of 2007, bill S-213 needed to be passed again in the Senate and was given a new bill number, S-203. (Bill C-373 was not affected by prorogation, and remained stuck in a long queue of MPs' private members' bills.) Debate and final vote in the Senate was swift. As no changes were made from the original bill, S-203 resumed where S-213 left off in the House of Commons.

Following second reading in the House of Commons on November 29, 2007, S-203 was sent to the Commons Justice Committee. After clause by clause study, the Justice Committee returned it to the House of Commons without amendments, where on April 9, 2008, it was voted on for the final time. The Conservative government mustered enough support from opposition MPs to pass the bill. Mark was able to bring on side dozens of other Liberal colleagues to vote against S-203. In the end, 189 (mainly Conservative) MPs voted for S-203, and 70 MPs (a mix of Liberal, NDP and a few Bloc members) voted against it. 

The issue of advancing progressive legislation to reform animal cruelty laws was rekindled with the re-introduction of Mark Holland's bill, now called C-229, in the 40th Parliament.

Animal Cruelty Bill Timeline - Canada pdf

May 2, 2011 Our federal election saw the Conservatives win a majority government with the NDP forming the official opposition. In a tight race, Liberal MP Mark Holland, a great crusader for the animals, was defeated, but the struggle for animal liberation goes on. It’s a social justice movement that politicians cannot ignore. Keep up the good fight!   

Global National's outgoing anchor, Kevin Newman, tackled animal rights in the documentary, No Country for Animals, July 28, 2010 and what was found is beyond shocking: “We looked at the percentage of animal abuse cases that get convicted in Canada: 0.1 per cent. I can’t think of another crime where 99.9 per cent of people charged with it get off. So, something is wrong with the law. It hasn’t changed since the Criminal Code was written in the 19th century and it treats animals as property, as having no more rights than a table.”

Rabbit Advocacy's PSA: Who's protecting our animals? New for 2011

October 16, 2013 Update to the Animal Cruelty Bill, C-232

October 18, 2013 2 tragedies lead to creation of Quanto’s Law

Related information: Provincial and Territorial Legislation Concerning Farm Animal Welfare

December 2014 Take action: Canada’s antiquated federal legislation on animal cruelty

February 18, 2015 Tory MP: NDP's 'Radical Animal Rights Agenda' Would Cripple Economy

Comment: Humanity’s on a dangerous and escalating downward spiral. Unless there’s an imminent and radical change in human thought and the existing power structure, we’re doomed.

Meanwhile, under Stephen Harper and the federal Conservatives, the proposed anti-terror legislation Bill C-51, “anything that interferes with the economic or financial stability of Canada” will be considered “activity that undermines the security of Canada”. Although controversial, it easily passed 2nd reading in the House of Commons on February 23rd.

February 12, 2016 Puppy mill seizure illustrates need for proactive law enforcement

Comment: Carmina Gooch contacted the BC SPCA about another recent case, wherein a Winlaw Valley man is facing a 4th animal cruelty charge after the organization seized an assortment of 29 animals, including sheep, dogs, and goats. Carcasses of horses and other large animals were also found. Clearly, the system in place to protect the vulnerable and voiceless has failed yet again. It was verified by a visit to the Nelson Court that the BC SPCA, the only animal welfare organization in BC with the authority to enforce laws relating to animal cruelty, had been informed of the ownership ban and the offender’s location.

We also contacted federal government politicians, including our MP, Terry Beech, regarding The chronic shortage of slaughterhouse workers in Canada. I couldn't believe the response from Beech which read: "Your message is the first that we have received on the issue of slaughterhouses and the role animals currently play in our economic output." Gooch’s letter February 05, 2016

Bill C-35, the Justice for Animals in Service Act

March 2, 2016 Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith introduced Bill C-246, the Modernizing Animal Protections Act, at a press conference today in Toronto. Go here to contact your MP and tell them to support Bill C-246.

May 11, 2016 Animal cruelty bill runs into Commons buzz saw, government indifference

May 12, 2016 We wrote to Prime Minister Trudeau and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould urging them personally, and the Liberal Party, to support Bill C-246. There has been legislative inertia by politicians when it comes to implementing modern, new laws to protect all animals. Government has a moral and ethical duty to act.

Federal legislation in Canada: Canada is widely considered to be a progressive, civilized country with plenty of laws on the books to protect its citizens from various forms of violence, disorderly conduct and theft. But we have a dismal record when it comes to protecting animals from cruelty, abuse and neglect. That could change with your help. Find out more on the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies page.

September 21, 2016 We have moved into a new riding and contacted our MP, Carla Qualtrough, on this matter. Unfortunately, we did not receive a response and from the list to find out how an MP is voting, we see she will be voting against it.

Bill C-246 dies on House floor  

Liberals refuse to back fellow MP’s bid to modernize outdated laws 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016 42nd Parliament, 1st Session Sitting No. 88  

Bill C-246 An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Fisheries Act, the Textile Labelling Act, the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act and the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (animal protection) was defeated 198 NEAYS  to 84 YEAS. See how individual MPs voted.

That this bill was defeated is unacceptable! Canada's outdated animal protection laws must be updated NOW. Contact Prime Minister Trudeau, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and your MP.  

The Liberal government must take immediate steps to improve life for all animals in Canada. It is their duty to listen to constituents and to take action. Our obligations to them are a matter of fundamental justice and they must take precedence over powerful industry interests.  

Who's protecting our animals? Summer 2011 (Rabbit Advocacy's PSA.) Go to our News page to read more. Taking action to make a difference

February 25, 2018 Our animal cruelty laws need to catch up in 2018

Comment: It is well-documented by researchers and non-researchers alike that animals are sentient creatures. Most of us knew this as children. It is inexcusable that Canada’s legislators have been delinquent in removing them from the property status under law. Our politicians have an ethical and moral duty to listen to its citizens and to act.  

The day may come, when the rest of animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been withholden from them but by the hand of human tyranny. Jeremy Bentham, The Principles of Morals and Legislation

Read more: Animal rights moves forward in Europe; AW Party wins; AU under pressure, Canada lags behind; time for an Animal Charter of Rights & Freedoms; WTO hinders global progress

Weak update to cruelty bill wins Canadian MPs approval, Alberta bill postponed; Criminal Code updates stymied; Ontario dog abuser ordered to submit DNA sample

Animal welfare issues an election topic in Canada; reforms needed,; ALDF ratings; Canada gets 'D' rating by WAP; Green Party Canada Animal Protection Platform