Kelowna MP votes against party to improve animal anti-cruelty laws

Stephen Fuhr says he voted for a failed private member's bill in a bid to further the debate over stronger animal welfare laws in Canada.

Kelowna-Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr says he voted in favour of a private member’s bill aimed at strengthening Canada’s animal welfare laws, despite the leadership and a majority of MPs in his own party being against it, because he felt the bill could help inform the debate over how to better protect animals in this country.

“Today I supported C-246 at second reading so that it can be sent to committee for review,” said Fuhr in a Facebook post Wednesday just before the bill was defeated 198 to 84.

“Even if it does not pass, the opportunity to examine the bill’s objectives will inform the debate about the best way forward on tougher animal cruelty laws,” added Fuhr from Ottawa.

The rookie MP said while the federal Liberal cabinet decided not to support the bill—proposed by  Ontario MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith—individual Liberal MPs were free to vote for it if they wanted too.

Fuhr said the cabinet was opposed because, despite the proposed legislation’s “good intentions,” it contained a number of parts that could inadvertently hurt legitimate hunting and fishing activities.

“For instance, the new offence of brutally or viciously killing an animal could capture normal hunting or fishing activities, or animal food industry practice, and the creation of a new part in the Criminal Code for animal cruelty offences could compromise property rights associated with animals,” he said.

Other measures contained in the bill, such as those related to shark “finning” cover practices already prohibited in Canada.

The local MP said Justice Minister Judy Wilson-Raybould believes such large-scale changes to the Criminal Code should require broader consultation with affected Canadians.

Despite that, he believes tougher laws regarding animal cruelty are a necessity in this country.

As for Erskine-Smith, he said while he was aware the chance of a private member’s bill passing was slim, he remains confident the government will act to improve animal protection laws.

And that’s better in the end, he told the media, adding government action as a result of consultation would garner the support of more MPs.