Such good news. In June, legislation was tabled in the Quebec Assembly that will revamp the existing sections of that province’s Criminal Code, Crimes Against Animals section.
Fundamental to this Bill is the inclusion that animals are sentient beings, that they should no longer be considered solely as property. Currently, in the eyes of the law in Quebec, an animal has as much value and worth as a piece of furniture. Now, instead of this 19th Century assumption, animal welfare laws in Quebec will recognize what the vast majority of Canadian citizens understand, namely that animals, like humans, are sentient beings. They possess conscious perception which allows them to be aware of and feel life through their senses and intelligence. Given those facts, when animal abuse occurs, it will be recognized for the heinous crime that it is.
Quebec MLA Pierre Paradis, who tabled this Bill, believes that it will transform Quebec from the jurisdiction with some of the least strict animal welfare in North America to one with some of the toughest. Fines for animal abuse will range from $250- $250,000 and judges will be able to sentence serial offenders for up to 18 month terms.
This Bill is a positive step and, one hopes, the beginning of much-needed reform. It speaks to pet owners and farmers in particular but, unfortunately, it makes no mention of negative, wide-spread practices currently allowed in the food industry. There remains a great deal to be done on behalf of the chickens, pigs and cows whose meat is so valued for human consumption.
Still, and all, we applaud this legislative breakthrough. When the fact of sentience is embedded throughout the entire Canadian legal system improvements in standards of all animal welfare will follow.
Sandra Pady, Founder