History & Background

The state of animal cruelty legislation in Canada

Animal cruelty legislation falls under the Criminal Code of Canada and was originally enacted in 1892. In 1999 the Government of Canada launched a consultation process to gather input on what changes were needed to these provisions. In December 1999, then Justice Minister Anne McLellan tabled Bill C-17 in the House of Commons.

In 1999 the Government of Canada launched a consultation process to gather input on what changes were needed to these provisions. In December 1999, then Justice Minister Anne McLellan tabled Bill C-17 in the House of Commons.

Bill C-17 died shortly after it was introduced, due to an election call early in 2000. Over the next five years, the federal Liberal government repeatedly brought the bill forward, but it repeatedly died due to prorogation of Parliament. Over those years, the bill was named Bill C-15, C-15B, C-10, C-10B, C-22, and C-50. In 2003, Bill C-10B came extremely close to passing, when it was supported by all parties in the House, but the Senate stood in its way.

Once the Conservative Party was in power, Member of Parliament Mark Holland brought forward a private member’s bill in October 2006 that was virtually identical to Bill C-50. Mr. Holland re-tabled his bill repeatedly as it died with prorogation. In addition, the NDP tabled its own bill, C-558, in June, 2008.

In February 2005, Liberal Senator John Bryden from New Brunswick, tabled Bill S-24. This bill took the entire penalties section from the Liberal government bill, but made no changes to the offences. The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS.ca) and other animal protection groups strongly opposed this bill. So did the Canadian public – a petition with almost 112,000 signatures was tabled in the House of Commons in 2007 opposing Senator Bryden’s bill. The introduction of this bill changed things dramatically, as most industry groups supported the Senator’s bill. This bill also fell victim to parliamentary prorogation three times, but Senator Bryden re-tabled it as Bill S-203 and then S-213. It ultimately passed through The Senate and the House of Commons and was enacted in June 2008 as An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals).

To address the weaknesses in this legislation, Peggy Nash presented a Private Member’s Bill, C-232, in 2011. This has sat in Parliament since, with no movement at all.

Clearly from the above not much has happened to the Animal Cruelty laws in Canada over the past 120 years or so. Now is the time for change. Please join us and support our efforts to improve Animal welfare legislation in Canada.

Information courtesy of the  –  The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies