Quebec animal welfare bill hearings begin at National Assembly

Hearings on Quebec's proposed bill expanding the rights of animals to classify them as sentient beings with biological needs begin this morning at the National Assembly.

Bill 54 could make some halal butchering techniques illegal, says agriculture minister

The new legislation would see animals referred to as sentient beings with biological needs. (The Associated Press)

Hearings on Quebec's proposed bill expanding the rights of animals to classify them as sentient beings with biological needs begin this morning at the National Assembly.

Agriculture Minister Pierre Paradis announced the creation of the animal welfare bill in 2014 and is looking to have it passed this fall. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

The legislation, which would also allow for animal abusers to be sentenced to jail time, was heralded by animal-rights advocates such as Quebec's Order of Veterinarians as an important step forward.

"Quebec is about 20 years behind the rest of the civilized world [in this matter]," said Quebec Agriculture Minister Pierre Paradis.

The province has long been criticized for being a home to puppy mills. Undercover videos of fur and veal farms in the past year or so have shown deplorable living conditions for the animals.

In 2014, the San Francisco-based Animal Legal Defense Fund put Quebec on its list of the best places to be an animal abuser.

Kosher, halal butchering still a question

Paradis said he expects to hear concerns about kosher and halal slaughtering techniques during the three weeks of hearings.

He said that, as far as he knows, kosher slaughters would not break the law — but some halal slaughtering techniques would.

"Slow death is not acceptable under the new legislation. That will have an impact on those who don't find the equilibrium between religious beliefs and respect for animals," Paradis said.

Anyone convicted of the incoming animal-cruelty laws could face fines and jail time. Repeat offenders could be subject to fines of $750,000 and 18 months in jail. 


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.