Tag Archives: Mark Holland

Support Animal Welfare Bill C-229

Earlier we wrote about Mark Holland’s Bill C-229, a revision of his earlier substantial Bill C-373, to  introduce a badly needed overhaul to the more-than-a-century-old animal welfare legislation in Canada. More on Mark Holland and Bill C-373 here. Every time animal cruelty has been up for a vote, Parliament has been on hiatus or prorogued.

This afternoon, in the memory of Tyson, a beautiful young black lab mix who had to be euthanized as a result of horrific abuse in Windsor recently, a group of animal lovers drove all the way to Queen’s Park with their pets and children to raise consciousness for Bill C-229, in the hopes that we can get it passed this time.

The organizer, Tammy Deslauriers, told us that animal cruelty laws have not been updated in well over 100  years and expressed hope that 2010 would be a time for change. Those at the rally sported red t-shirts and bandannas to show their support for enactment of Bill C-229 and for the animals. Tammy encouraged everyone at the rally to tell their friends, and to ask their MPs to support the bill. Further rallies are planned for Toronto and Ottawa.

Bill Bryden’s interim Bill C-203 is “19th century legislation adjusted for inflation”. It basically attempts to take the pressure off enacting legislation that actually has some meaning. Let’s keep the pressure on the politicians to pass legislation that will not simply appease the hunting and animal industry lobbies.

Review Bill C-229 on Mark Holland’s website.

With Mark Holland championing Bill C-229, Frank Klees on the case for a revision to Bill C-50 (OSPCA Act) and Cheri diNovo pursuing fair treatment for dogs regardless of breed, we have a full plate and a slate of MPPs who deserve our support to make 2010 the year for positive change for the animals to start happening.

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Phoenix Rising

Warning:  graphic content.

Earlier we blogged about Bill C-203, a sham piece of legislation purporting to protect animals in Canada. Mark Holland, MP for Pickering, has relentlessly pursued legislation with some actual teeth, most recently in the form of Bill C-229. Last year, Ontario’s Animal Protection Act was overhauled, giving the OSPCA greater powers to intervene and prosecute.

Yet travesties continue in our own backyard.


A story that we are following closely is unfolding at the Durham Humane Society in Oshawa, a city hard-hit by the recession’s gutting of the auto sector. Durham Humane was also devastated by an awful fire last Christmas. Their dogs are being looked after by the local Animal Control people and foster families.

As Durham Humane rises from the ashes like a phoenix, and is rebuilding its shelter, its challenge these past few days has been to give life and hope to another phoenix. He is a four-year-old Chow and he has been named, yes, Phoenix.

The worst case of animal neglect that Durham Humane has ever seen, Phoenix wandered into a back yard on Sunday. His fur was filthy and matted, where he had any, because much of it had fallen out. He was covered with bleeding sores. His nails were so long that they curved back into his paw pads. He was a skeleton under what remained of his fur. He was in terrible pain.

Veterinarians at Durham Humane have been running tests to discover the cause of his hair loss and assess whether he can recover. They’ve given him painkillers, bathed him, and trimmed his nails and matted fur. Durham Humane website reported today that he is doing a little better, loving his food, and walking a bit, but his condition is still critical.

The society has been swamped with phone calls and offers to help Phoenix. Funds have been raised to offer a reward for conviction of Phoenix’s former guardian.

This dog is not a stray. He appears to be a pure-bred Chow, and a cream Chow at that – highly unusual and desirable. It’s possible that he was part of a puppy mill operation. Mills are notorious for keeping costs down by skimping on decent food and care for their animals. Phoenix wouldn’t be the first mill dog to suffer horribly from mange and overgrown nails.

On the other hand, he weighs half of what a four-year-old male Chow should. That speaks to confinement, neglect and abandonment. As the reward climbs and the word gets out, it’s only a matter of time before the despicable devils that did this are charged.

Meanwhile, this isn’t an isolated case. It just happens to be in our own backyard. It’s the tip of the huge, dark iceberg that is humanity’s ignorance and arrogance.

Phoenix, those of us who hang out at Fred’s blog, One Bark At A Time, have fingers crossed that you, like Durham Humane, will come back strong.

And…Durham has had a hell of an uphill climb since the fire. Please consider sending them a donation, and if you can’t spare the cash, this well-deserving group of rescuers and volunteers could use your HBC points, Canadian Tire coupons or just Good Thoughts.

Update: September 1:  University of Guelph veterinarians report that he has inoperable cancer of the tongue, with no real options because his condition is so poor. Durham Humane’s focus now is to place him in a loving home for his remaining weeks or months.

Update: September 8: Phoenix goes to a loving foster home on September 9!

Bill C-229 Tackles Animal Welfare in Canada

One Bark At A Time is one of our very favourite blogs. Its keeper, Fred, is a volunteer at Toronto Animal Services (TAS). His insider view of the shelter operation is a window on compassion but also some very heavy issues. It’s heartbreaking when shelters and rescuers must go head to head with Canadian and Ontario animal “welfare” regulation which stands in the way of protecting animals. Read about Fred’s frustration here. Heck, read his whole blog!

Mark HollandIn the case of federal regulation, it’s a bloody travesty.

Parliament passed ineffective but politically correct legislation (as in Pontius Pilate’s handwashing) last year in the form of Bill C-203, a sham introduced by John Bryden to not rock the boat. After all, meaningful legislation could come later, once the ice had been broken. As in a hundred years from now, maybe.

Meanwhile, Mark Holland, MP for Pickering, continues to push for legislation with some real meaning and teeth. Each time, our elected MP’s haven’t stepped up to the plate or there’s been yet another election or similar obfuscation. Please keep on pushing, Mark!

Last year, Mark rightly promoted Bill C-373, which might have helped suffering animals a whole lot more than the pap that was approved under Bill C-203.

Now, Mark has re-introduced the more hefty Bill C-373 as Bill C-229.

Please visit his website and review the bill.

This needs to get done this time around. Contact your MP, senators and Minister Nicholson. Let’s do it!

Failing Grades for Canadian Animal Cruelty Law

Chained DogNowhere is the sheer uselessness of the current Canadian Parliament more evident than in its handling of animal cruelty legislation.

An animal cruelty bill headed for final reading in the House of Commons on Friday has been condemned by opponents as “19th-century legislation adjusted for inflation.”

Bill S-203 is a sham

If Bill S-203 is passed in April or May, when it comes to a third and final reading in the House of Commons, our animal friends will suffer. The bill, which purports to update Canada’s Animal Cruelty Act, is a sham. Some of its critics say that its only function is to earn brownie points for politicians.

The bill’s critics include practically every animal protection group in Canada, from the SPCAs and humane societies to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and grassroots organizations.

Puppy MillThe Canadian public wants better. Just read the letters to the editor every time humane society inspectors break up another miserable puppy mill hell. People will tolerate all kinds of objectionable behaviour towards humans. But when a yobbo drags his dog behind an SUV, the overwhelming public sentiment is to string him up.

And yet after more than eight years of trying, Canada’s elected Members of Parliament can’t pass a decent animal cruelty bill into law.

The current legislation, dating from 1892, is ineffective in both scope and penalty. Efforts to update it began in 1999 but quickly ran into a buzz saw of opposition from farmers and hunters.

Eventually a watered-down version passed the Commons and went to the Senate – only to be bogged down again. Animal researchers wanted to be exempted as did alligator wrestlers. Aboriginal groups worried that a ban on brutal treatment might impinge on their traditions. Jewish and Muslim groups fretted that tougher laws might affect ritual slaughter practices.

At that point, Liberal Senator John Bryden came up with the worst of all possible worlds – a new bill that would keep the loophole-ridden 1892 law as is but make the penalties (which in practice are rarely applied) harsher.

“(Prior attempts) died primarily because the bills tried to do too much,” Mr. Bryden said. “I put a bill in that didn’t change the law, it addressed the penalties.”

Harper’s Conservatives enthusiastically embraced his private member’s bill. The New Democrats and Bloc Québécois did not. Predictably, the Liberals were split.

Ajax-Pickering MP Mark Holland tried to introduce a much stronger Bill C-373. But rural Liberals tended to support Bryden’s do-little Senate version. In February, his Bill S-203 sailed through the Commons justice committee with Liberal support. Some said they didn’t much like S-203 but would pass it anyway and then fix it another year. The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies says that there’s faint hope of that happening.

“We all look forward to the day when our laws concerning the abuse of animals are brought into line with acceptable sentences. However, it is never wise to be too hasty in changing the Criminal Code, given the far-reaching and sometimes unexpected consequences that can flow from our decisions.” ~~ Senator Donald Oliver, Nova Scotia

Under S-203, there would be no legal definition of what an animal is, and animal neglect would have to be proven to be predetermined or willful in order to be prosecuted.

Landfill AnimalsMPs planning to vote in favour of S-203 say that, granted, it’s not a great improvement over the old laws, but it is “a step in the right direction” that’s “better than nothing.” That is pure bull. S-203 is a useless and vacuous piece of legislation, a blocking tactic that will stall forward movement and do nothing to help animals.

Intent to harm must still be shown, and this makes it nearly impossible to get convictions, especially in cases of negligence. Fewer than 1 per cent of animal abuse complaints are successfully prosecuted, and S-203 will do nothing to change that. What good are stronger penalties when we can’t get convictions? And only animals that are somebody’s “property” are “protected” – not stray or wild animals.

A recent report by IFAW shows Canada has the worst animal cruelty laws among the 14 countries surveyed, including the Ukraine and the Philippines.

Compared with other developed countries, Canada’s Third World mentality on animal cruelty issues is beyond shameful.

A better solution: Bill C-373

The member’s bill that would actually do something to help animals is Holland’s Bill C-373.

Holland’s bill introduces the term “negligent” and defines it as “departing markedly from the standard of care that a reasonable person would use.” It prohibits the killing of any animal (owned or unowned) without a lawful excuse. (Lawful excuses include hunting, fishing, farming, euthanasia and self-protection.)

It outlaws killing an animal brutally or viciously, whether or not the animal dies immediately — which means that the boys in Edmonton who tied a dog to a tree and beat it to death would not get off on the basis that it died on the first blow (according to the examining vet) and therefore didn’t suffer. Other provisions deal with aspects such as fighting and baiting. Perhaps best of all, C-373 moves these laws out of the property chapter of the Criminal Code, reflecting the contemporary view of animals as sentient beings, rather than possessions.

MPs know that most Canadians support progressive animal abuse legislation. Those who disapprove of cruelty to animals may be interested in discovering how their MPs voted.

Excerpted from Thomas Walkom (Toronto Star, April 2), Matthew Jay (Ottawa Citizen, April 2), and A.S.A. Harrison (Globe and Mail, March 25)

Update on April 10

By a vote of 189-71, Bill S-203 passed final vote in the House of Commons on April 9th. It will become law once it receives Royal Assent and Proclamation.

More than 130,000 Canadians signed petitions specifically opposing Bill S-203. A 2006 poll found 85% of Canadians want modern and effective legislation that makes it easier for law enforcement agencies to prosecute those who commit criminal acts of animal cruelty.

Stated Pat Tohill, WSPA Programs Manager: “During the debate, many MPs argued that S-203 was only a first step. Many said they would support MP Mark Holland’s Bill C-373. Most said they would support further amendments to Canada’s animal cruelty laws. We will be holding MPs to their commitment to support further amendments to Canada’s cruelty laws. Canadians will not wait another century before animals are protected from heinous acts of cruelty in Canada.”

A more comprehensive animal cruelty bill has been passed by Canada’s House of Commons twice in the past ten years, receiving the support of all political parties only to die in the Senate.

The opposing votes were from NDP and some Liberal members and one Bloc MP. Conservatives stood steadfastly in support of this shameful bill that retains the archaic and problematic offences enacted in 1892.

To those MPs who supported Bill S-203, you can tick that off your list for another hundred years. Shame on you.

Updating animal legislation from 1892

mark hollandIn recent months, a number of high-profile animal abuse cases across the country has made many Canadians aware of how woefully inadequate and outdated Canada’s laws against animal cruelty are.

These well-publicized incidents have prompted thousands of Canadians to sign petitions and write letters to Members of Parliament demanding reform of our animal cruelty laws, which have changed very little since 1892.

There are currently two private members’ bills before Parliament to reform the Criminal Code sections on animal cruelty.

Bill C-373, introduced by Mark Holland, M.P. for Ajax-Pickering, is a comprehensive bill that not only increases penalties, but also closes off the many loopholes that allow animal abusers to walk away scot-free. Currently only one quarter of 1 % of animal cruelty complaints actually result in conviction.

Bill C-373 has the support of such major animal welfare organizations as the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS), the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA).

However, hunting and animal industry groups are supporting rival Bill S-213, which substantially keeps in place laws from 1892. This bill, introduced by Senator John Bryden, is opposed by the major animal welfare organizations.

What can you do?

To learn about the differences between Bill C-373 and Bill S-213, read Mark Holland’s article which was published in the September 2007 issue of Canadian Pets & Animals Magazine.

Inform yourself about animal cruelty issues and why Canadian law needs to change.

Share your views with your MP, and tell him or her that you want to see an effective bill passed.

Write to newspapers and discuss the issue with friends and on online forums.

Write to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and tell him that you are not satisfied with Bill S-213.

Write to the Senators and urge them not to pass S-213 in its present form when it is reintroduced under a new number in the new session of Parliament.

Visit Mark Holland’s website for their contact information.