Members of Parliament spar over animal welfare Bill C-246
Private member's bill looks to end shark fin imports, cat and dog fur trade
A private member's bill seeking to modernize Canada's animal welfare laws is coming under fire for the bill's potential to dramatically change how hunters, anglers and farmers operate.
Currently making its way through parliament is private member's Bill C-246, drafted by Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith from Toronto.
Key points in the bill would stop shark fin imports as well as end the sale and trade of cat and dog fur.
According to Erskine-Smith, Canada imported over 135,000 kilograms of shark fins last year alone, and Canada represents about two per cent of the shark fin consumption in the world.
But digging deeper into the bill, critics like Conservative MP Robert Sopuck from Dauphin, Man., said beyond ending shark finning and the cat and dog fur trade, the bill is unnecessary.
Sopuck said 60 per cent of Canada's heart and stroke research is done on animals and he feels this bill would directly affect a researcher's capability to use animals because someone may file a complaint citing animal cruelty violations.
But Erskine-Smith said animals used for medical research would not be affected whatsoever by this bill.
Being a hunter himself, Sopuck said some view hunting and the practices of hunters as cruelty to animals, and he asks what's going to stop hunters from facing charges after putting down an animal.
"Our animal welfare legislation is as good as it is," Sopuck said.
"This bill is by no means intended to affect hunting, fishing and farming, generally accepted animal-use practices," he said.
The new bill would simply treat animals the same under one part of the criminal code offences.
"It also modernizes the negligence offence, treating animal cruelty the same way we treat any other negligible offence," Erskine-Smith said.
Erskine-Smith's said Bill C-246 will go for second reading this fall, and if the bill goes to committee, he's agreed to consult stakeholders on the language of the bill.
"If we have concerns about unintended consequences in the language, my intention is not to affect accepted animal-use practices, so let's fix the language so it doesn't."
With files from CBC Radio's Blue Sky