New Animal Laws a Threat to Canadians

Commentary, Agriculture, Robert Sopuck

Although the use of animals for human purposes is vital to the health and well-being of our society, a proposed federal “animal rights” law, Bill C-15B, will harm the quality of life of all Canadians. No one condones the inhumane treatment of animals, but Bill C-15B, which is analyzed in a new Frontier Centre backgrounder (see moves the laws governing the treatment of animals from the “Property” section of the law into a subsection of the Criminal Code. This moves them closer to being granted rights similar to those that protect humans, in line with the radical agenda of the animal rights lobby.

Bill C-15B defines an animal as any creature “that has the capacity to feel pain.” This will open bio-medical research, fish farming, and angling to frivolous legal challenges, especially since scientists cannot agree on which animals actually feel pain, or at what level.

Bill C-15B also removes the important “legal justification” and “colour of right” defenses for those who work with animals. Under the current laws, a worm squirming on a fish hook is part of a legal angling activity but, with the “colour of right” provisions removed, that activity could be challenged in court. Animal activists have openly stated that legal test cases will be launched if Bill C-15B is passed in its present form.

The stated objective of most animal rights groups is the complete elimination of all animal use by people, and the extension of “rights” and equality with humans to animals. Michael W. Fox of the Humane Society of the United States said: “The life of an ant and that of my child should be granted equal consideration.” The kindly people who donate money to humane societies seem to be unaware that these groups are often hi-jacked by animal rights zealots.

The Justice Department completely ignores the potential for harm over time, once animal rights activists are armed with these amendments. If promising avenues of research into drugs that cure diseases, for instance, must be abandoned due to fear of lawsuits, the health consequences for Canadians will be not just significant, but disastrous. By defining animals as equal in law to humans, those involved in all animal use will be exposed to new legal risks. Justice officials are trying to convince animal use groups, such as farmers, that C-15B will have no effect. But as one farm leader said to them, “If it has no effect, why do it?” Why, indeed.

A favoured tactic of animal activists goes like this: if you can’t win in the court of public opinion, get the laws changed so that you just might win in a court of law. A sympathetic judge, a test case, a split decision, and voilà, no more fishing or drug research or — well, you fill in the blank. Using law to drive an extreme animal-rights agenda won’t help either mistreated animals or people.

Animal rights campaigns, like those of their comrades in the environmental movement, have brought us laws like the Firearms Act and the proposed Species at Risk Act. They have already caused untold misery in rural Canada, Bill C-15B will increase it. The loss of the seal hunt, the collapse of the fur trade, the destruction of logging communities and the imposition of increased regulatory costs on farmers together compose a sorry record of oppression.

These crusades are little more than the use of raw, brute, political power, emanating from cities, brought to bear on the “little” people of Canada. It’s as if regulatory war has been declared on rural Canadians and it’s got to stop. If we adopt Bill C-15B, all Canadians will sooner or later feel their pain.