In recent weeks I have received many e-mails from constituents who have asked me to support Bill C-246 a private members bill tabled by Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, which seeks to modernize Canada’s animal cruelty laws.
Despite recognizing its good intentions, our federal Liberal cabinet has determined it cannot support this bill due to a number of concerns which I will outline in a moment. Caucus members however are free to vote as they see fit.
By the time you read this column I will have voted for C-246 to send it to committee for review. 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.
As in previous attempts in Parliament to strengthen the law, legitimate concerns remain that such changes to the Criminal Code could negatively impact legitimate animal uses, such as animal husbandry, hunting or fishing.
For instance, a 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.
Other measures contained in the bill, such as shark-finning, are already prohibited.
In this regard, the government, through Justice Minister Judy Wilson-Raybould, is of the belief that such a large-scale change to the Criminal Code warrants a broader consultation with affected Canadians.
Tougher laws regarding animal cruelty are a necessity, but in order for such legislation to pass it will be imperative that lawful hunting, fishing and gaming activities are explicitly protected and that broad terms like negligence are clearly defined.
By consulting with affected Canadians, and by striking the right balance between the protection of animals and activities that legitimately support local and regional economies, we will be able to move forward to modernize our animal cruelty laws and establish an effective animal protection regime.
Pipelines and pricing carbon pollution
From the beginning, our government has recognized a need to balance the economy with our climate change obligations.
British Columbia is already doing its part by recognizing the economic potential of LNG and tackling carbon emissions by setting a price on carbon pollution, the revenues of which are being returned back to our citizens.
With the federal government’s recent decision to approve the Pacific Northwest LNG project and its proposal to work with the provinces and territories to set a Canadian price on carbon pollution, more Canadians are set to realize the same economic and environmental dividends as British Columbians.
The days of pitting the economy against the environment are over. The Government of Canada’s proposal for a pan-Canadian approach to pricing carbon pollution sets a benchmark at a level that will help Canada meet its greenhouse gas emission targets, while providing greater certainty and predictability to Canadian businesses.
Furthermore, it is part of a broader strategy to be energy smart through innovative technologies and practices including how we build our towns, cities and transportation corridors to how we give back to consumers, support workers and their families, work with indigenous communities, help the vulnerable — including those in the North, or support businesses that innovate and create good jobs for the middle class.
Together, these announcements support our government’s promise to Canadians to create a clean-growth economy necessary for our collective health and prosperity now and in the future.