3.10 Animal welfare

While everyone is against cruelty to animals, factory farming has been allowed to create systematic and routine cruelty to livestock production. Chickens are packed tightly in cages their whole lives, cattle crowd in feedlots, and pigs are kept indoors in cages on slatted metal floors all their lives. Most people believe that animals, including domesticated animals, have the right to be treated humanely.

The current federal laws protect animals from cruelty under the Criminal Code, but animals fall into the property section. Thus, cruelty to animal offences are among the very few offences that can only be convicted as summary convictions (minor offences, with limited penalties). As well, the Criminal Code uses the term “willful intent”, making it very hard to prove a person has violated the code. Many in law enforcement recognize that those who engage in wanton acts of cruelty to animals are more likely to commit crimes against fellow human beings.

We believe that animals should be treated humanely and with respect at all times. Farming practices must allow animals to live without undue stress and in conditions where they are able to exercise normal behaviours. Many animals that live in intensive farming systems show signs of stress such as stereotypes (repetitive behaviours with no purpose) and aggression. Some animals, such as chicken breeder broilers and sows (mothers of pigs used for meat), are kept in a state of starvation in order to keep them at healthy weight, despite their bred-in genetic predisposition to gain weight. Mortalities, disease, and injuries from long transport are a common occurrence, since abattoirs are often long distances from farms.

Green Party MPs will:

  • Adopt animal welfare legislation to prevent inhumane treatment of farm animals including intensive factory farming methods. The Act will set minimum standards of treatment and have a timetable for the phase-out of intensive factory farming and other inhumane animal husbandry practices. It will set standards for distances live animals can be transported, conditions of animals in slaughterhouses, auctions, and entertainment, and it will prohibit trade in exotic animals;

  • Update Canada’s criminal code as it pertains to animal protection, moving crimes against animals from the property section, and recognizing animals as sentient beings;

  • Invest resources in the development and training of police officers to deal with cruelty cases;

  • Establish a Parliamentary Committee on Animal Welfare tasked with examining legislation affecting animal concerns and dealing with the animal welfare community, creating a setting in parliament where animal welfare issues can be properly researched and debated and recommendations made as required;

  • Work to improve conditions for animals during transport;

  • Sponsor legislation that:

    1. Makes the acts of cruelty to animals an offence under the criminal code instead of a property offence;

    2. Clearly defines an animal as ‘a vertebrate other than a human being’;

    3. Changes the term “willful neglect” of animals used in the current legislation to simply ‘neglect’ with the term “neglect” being defined as ‘departing markedly from the standard of care that a reasonable person would use’ so as to make convictions under the Act more achievable;

    4. Makes it an offence to kill any animal without a lawful reason;

    5. Makes it an offence to train an animal to fight and receive money for animal fighting and training, and prohibit all spectacles, animal shows, and presentations that involve injuring, baiting, fighting, intimidation, harassment, causing fear and/or other negative actions that are potentially harmful to the animals involved, including bullfights, cock fights, and dog fights;

    6. Bans the use of animals as experimental objects in military research and cosmetic testing;

    7. Bans the importation of animals for zoos, except where importing will assist the overall conservation of that species;

    8. Prohibits the use of wild animals in circuses, novelty acts, travelling shows, and other temporary spectacles;

    9. Requires all zoos to be licensed, to operate at a professional standard, be subject to strict animal welfare and public safety regulations, and subject to regular reviews and inspections;

    10. Prohibits importing marine mammals for public display in zoos, marine parks, and aquariums;

    11. Prohibits the captive breeding of animals in zoos and marine parks, except for verifiable conservation purposes;

    12. Establishes strict animal welfare and public safety regulations for the use of wild animals in film and television productions;

    13. Establishes retirement/sanctuary facilities for wild animals seized by federal, provincial, and municipal law enforcement agencies;

    14. Strives for the reduction and ultimate replacement of animal use for research, testing, and educational purposes;

    15. Makes the use of animals for research, testing, and educational purposes unlawful where a non-animal method or approach is reasonably or practicably available (consistent with EU Directive 86/609);

    16. Establishes a coordinated approach to identifying alternatives to replace or reduce the use of animals for testing and research, and commits resources to developing and validating non-animal test methods in coordination with parallel efforts elsewhere;

    17. Ensures the automatic regulatory acceptance of every non-animal test method deemed scientifically valid by the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) and the automatic prohibition of the animal-based test method it replaces;

    18. Ensures that all new or revised animal and non-animal toxicity test methods are scientifically validated before their use is required, recommended, or encouraged by regulatory authorities;

    19. Enhances the current system of oversight consisting of voluntary guidelines and peer review administered by the Canadian Council on Animal Care, a federally regulated licensing program, whereby prospective animal users must apply to a federal Animal & Alternatives Research Review Board, which will be responsible for:

      • Evaluating the costs and benefits of the proposed research;

      • Rigorously assessing the availability of non-animal methods or approaches;

      • Granting or denying a project license;

      • Where a license is granted, monitoring compliance with animal care standards; and improving government and industry accountability and public access to information regarding the use of animals for research.

    20. Outlaws the mandatory surrender of dogs and cats from municipal pounds and animal shelters (known as ‘pound seizure’) for research use;

    21. Bans all use of non-human primates for genetic manipulation and cloning, invasive psychological and behavioural research, substance abuse research, and warfare research;

    22. Bans the use of animals to assess the safety of personal care and household cleaning products, as defined by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics; animal-based tests for skin corrosion, skin irritation, skin absorption, phototoxicity, pyrogenicity, genetic toxicity to be replaced by scientifically-validated non-animal methods;

    23. Bans ‘lethal dose’ toxicity studies on vertebrates;

    24. Prohibits any industry involving single organ trade;

    25. Increases monitoring and enforcement budgets;

    26. Includes provisions to facilitate promotion of alternatives to use of wild animal ingredients by traditional medicine practitioners.