Working for a Shark Fin Free Calgary

Working for a Shark Fin Free Calgary

Woeking for a sharkfin free Calgary


From The Pew Environment Group, The Pew Charitable Trusts

Sharks have roamed our oceans since before the time of dinosaurs, but their long reign at the top of the ocean food chain may be ending. The onset of industrial fishing over the past 60 years has drastically depleted their populations. Of the shark and ray species assessed by scientists for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 30 percent are threatened or near-threatened with extinction.

Shark finning –- the practice of catching a shark, slicing off its fins and then discarding the body at sea -– takes a tremendous toll on shark populations. Up to 73 million sharks are killed every year to primarily support the global shark fin industry, valued for the Asian delicacy shark fin soup.

In general, sharks grow slowly, mature late and produce few young over long lifetimes, leaving them exceptionally vulnerable to over exploitation and slow to recover from depletion. As key predators, their depletion also has risks for the health of entire ocean ecosystems. For example, tiger sharks have been linked to the quality of seagrass beds through their prey, dugongs and green sea turtles, which forage in these beds. Without tiger sharks to control their prey’s foraging, an important habitat is lost.

Why save sharks in Canada?

Canada has the longest coastal line of any country which is home to 27 different shark species. Canada has a legitimate shark fishing industry and foreign vessels are not closely monitored, possibly resulting in shark finning, For these reasons, Shark Fin Free Calgary encourages supporters to sign a federal petition to change the Fisheries Standard that will protect all sharks in Canadian waters until they are at least of reproductive age. This petition can be found along with our petition to the city of Calgary on our website and at various locations around the city.

Shark fin is served in over 30 restaurants* and other establishments that we are aware of right here in Calgary! Additionally, many restaurants not advertising shark fin on their menus, will often make it available for special order for banquets and other events. For every soup bowl not sold, a shark ultimately gets saved. Although it may not be heavily advertised, shark fin soup is popular throughout Canada. When the buying stops the killing can too!

A local grassroots NPO, Shark Fin Free Calgary,
is advocating and building awareness in Calgary.

And here’s how they suggest you can help:

  1. Sign and circulate their petition.
  2. Attend an event.
  3. Be heard.
  4. Get involved.

To learn more about the local efforts to stop shark finning, visit Shark Fin Free Calgary‘s website.


*independent survey


What price for a cat’s life?

What price for a cat’s life?

Sonny


We implicitly trust those caring for our pets when they get sick. They are holding something quite precious in their hands. But what happens when that trust is betrayed?

What happens when the alleged negligence comes at the hands of a veterinary professional? Someone you think has the best intentions for the care of your sick or injured pet?

These are the questions that Renate faces daily since the death of her cat Sonny just a few weeks ago at a clinic in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland. Here is part of the letter she sent to the clinic a week later.

At approximately 8pm on April 27, 2011, I made an emergency call to your hospital – regarding Sonny.

We told the veterinarian that we noticed that Sonny was hunched up when he came out of his litter box and vomited once. We were told to bring him in to your clinic.

Upon our arrival we gave [the vet] the history on our cat. Sonny showed no other signs of discomfort. He had eaten and was drinking that day and was still quite playful. (Having owned a male neutered cat in the past, I knew full well what signs to look for in a cat that had a urinary blockage.) Sonny was on the highest quality food for urinary tract and hair ball. The doctor obtained a urinalysis and [saw] crystals and at that time he advised us that an x-ray was necessary.

When the x-ray was completed, he showed us the image and said there were small stones but no blockage and that was good. He said Sonny would have to go on special food and possibly antibiotics. He debated on giving Sonny an injection and [bringing] him back the following day but he then decided to keep him overnight and flush his bladder. Feeling quite confident in what he had said, we put our beautiful cat in his hands.

At 11 pm that night, I received a call that he had lost Sonny.

I could not comprehend what had happened. The following day I went to get Sonny and asked to speak to the vet about what happened. The events that took place next will live in my mind forever. One girl brought Sonny in to us, while another followed with a debit machine asking us how we were going to pay for this? Holding my baby in my arms with my heart broken, I could not believe the lack of compassion!

I asked to speak to the vet who flushed Sonny’s bladder. When he came in he told us this: He flushed Sonny’s bladder and all went well with that and the anesthetic. He told me that Sonny was waking up from the anesthesia and when he went to check on him – Sonny had “PUKED” and he was blue by the time he realized it. He then went on to say that he worked on him for ½ hour but lost him anyway.

Sonny was left unattended as he was coming out from the anesthesia. Perhaps because of the food in his stomach, which the vet was aware of, Sonny vomited. Because he was laying down flat and likely barely conscious, he had no way to clear his mouth. With no one there to notice and no one to help him, Sonny asphyxiated on his own vomit. He suffocated to death.

To this was the added insult of the way the staff at the clinic seemed more concerned about payment. While Renate is sitting there holding her lifeless baby and trying to get her head around this whole event, she is being insensitively asked how she wants to pay for the “care” Sonny received.

In her search for answers about the work done for Sonny, Renate received this response from a vet professional:

If Sonny did not have a urethral obstruction, that is, if he was not blocked and could still urinate on his own, then there was no reason to rush the aesthetic procedure. This is especially true since your vet knew that Sonny had not been fasted, thereby increasing the risks of vomiting and aspiration of the vomitus into the lungs…

If Sonny’s life was not in immediate danger, then there is no reason at all why he should have been anesthetized that night. Your vet should have fasted him for 12 hours and performed the procedure the following day. In addition, if Sonny did not have a urethral obstruction and did not have bladder stones, anesthesia and flushing of the bladder is not even necessarily required.

It is far below the standard of care to allow an animal to wake up from anesthesia without someone there to monitor him. I feel this is another area in which your vet failed Sonny.

Just this week, Renate was finally contacted by the clinic’s owner.

She said that she was deeply sorry about what had happened to Sonny and offered us a full reimbursement.

Yes, I guess that is a start. But the hard part is Sonny’s loss, especially when it shouldn’t have happened.

The big questions that still loom are those already mentioned:

  • Knowing that Sonny had eaten just a few hours prior, why was a procedure that required anesthesia performed at that time? Sonny was not in danger.
  • Why was the bladder flush even recommended if Sonny’s condition did not necessarily warrant it?
  • Why was NO ONE supervising Sonny as he came out of anesthesia?
  • Was it really appropriate for staff to approach a client in the exam room, hand her Sonny and ask for payment? That seems so insensitive at that time.

Debbie, the clinic owner, has offered full reimbursement of Renate’s expenses and I think that short of performing some kind of miracle that would bring Sonny back, this is the least they can do when an unnecessary procedure is performed on an animal. Especially when that procedure results in this baby losing his life.

The vet that performed the procedure is on vacation. I certainly hope Debbie will take appropriate action with this vet to assure the public that this kind of veterinary care is never repeated; that unnecessary procedures are neither recommended nor performed because the pet’s owner ultimately pays the price.

Sonny should still be running around the house playing with his best pals — a rabbit named “Thumpy” and a budgie named “Fenster.”

Sonny and his pals Thumpy and Fenster


So where do we go from here? We’ll talk about that in another post.This post is about Sonny.

For now, Renate has created a wonderful video honoring Sonny. I encourage everyone to watch it (grab your tissues) and leave her a message on the Daisy Foundation Facebook page. I’m sure she would appreciate the hugs.


No justice for Ben today

No justice for Ben today

Ben out in the park for the day


Ted was Lorna and Ed’s son. Ben was Ted’s dog.

Ted adopted him from the pound after hearing about this big gentle guy from his boss. Ben had been at the pound for three weeks.

They were buddies. Ted trained Ben. They played together. And together, they climbed the nearby mountains in their spare time. They were best friends.

Ben and Ted


Until Ted passed away the year before Ben, succumbing to cancer.

So Ben became kind of a connection to Ted for Ted’s folks. They did not hesitate to give Ben all the love that Ben gave to Ted. After all, they were family.

Losing Ben — especially so needlessly, so senselessly and by such negligence as an illegal snare trap — makes the hole they already had in their hearts even larger.

I guess the best you can say of the situation right now is that somewhere out there, Ted and Ben are back together and hopefully doing all the things they so loved to do together.

But here on earth, this carelessness needs to be more accurately addressed. John McWilliams purposely and negligently set an illegal snare trap in a publicly accessible park that should not have been where it was. And by these actions, he killed Ben. Thirty feet from Lorna, Ben was strangled in such a way that he could not even cry out for help.

At trial today in Cochrane, a slap on the wrist was handed down by the judge in this case. The stakes were a maximum fine of $100,000 and/or two years in jail plus the loss of his hunting license. But the judge fined John McWilliams $300.

Ben - 2009


That illegal snare could have killed a child. An adult. WHAT would the penalty have been then? That snare should never have been where it was. It was set weeks before hunting season went into effect by McWilliams’ own admission. Snares are not even legal in that particular recreational area per regulations. This snare could have killed Lorna as she walked Ben.

And for such gross negligence, John McWilliams pays $300 and returns to trapping as he does?

 

If this does not anger you into working for stricter penalties, I do not know what will. Ben should be alive making big holes in Lorna and Ed’s front yard. He should be there for Sarah, his dog mate. He should have never been strangled in an illegal snare in a public recreational park.

My deepest sympathies to Lorna and Ed that justice was not adequately served today.

I am tearfully speechless at this seeming injustice. I am so disappointed that such dangerously reckless negligence results in only a $300 fine. We MUST push for stronger punishments for our animals.


Ben – needlessly killed | The Story of Ben | Calgary Sun story | Global Edmonton story

 


Canada’s animal welfare after the 2011 elections

Canada’s animal welfare after the 2011 elections

The election provided some disappointingly expected results — keeping Harper, but it also gave us some surprises as the New Democratic Party emerged as the official opposition party. This will be good news for animal welfare as the stance the NDP has made public for animal welfare is very much in line with what animal advocates have been asking for.

So with that hurtle behind us, we must hold them to their word. It’s not so much that we can relax from our protests, vigils and petitions, but hopefully we now have voices in Parliment that are hearing us.

I am optimistic about these changes at this point. I hope you are, too, and will resolve yourself to continuing our push for better animal welfare legislation. Let’s hold the NDP to their pre-election stance.

Click to read the NDP's stance on animal welfare in Canada
 

RESPONSE FROM NDP CANDIDATE COLLIN ANDERSON ON THEIR POSITION FOR ANIMAL RIGHTS

New Democrats recognize that animal welfare is very important. We support strengthening provisions of the Cruelty to Animals Section of the Criminal Code of Canada to discourage violence and cruelty against animals and to punish those responsible for such acts.

We continue to support meaningful legislation to provide real protection for animals. The abuse of any vulnerable creature, human or otherwise, is something that we should all take extremely seriously.

Specifically, the NDP are on record in support of amending the Criminal Code to:
• move animals out of property law and extend protections to wild animals and strays,
• make it illegal to train animals for fighting or profit from animal fighting;
• close loopholes that allow 99 per cent of those charged with animal cruelty to escape conviction.

We fought tirelessly in the past to get these important amendments through the House of Commons. We agree that the legislation Bill S-203, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals), is deeply flawed and that is why we joined the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) in opposing this Bill.

New Democrats also support the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare and will work with the Provinces, Territories, government departments and agencies and stakeholders to update Canada’s laws and policies on animal cruelty and welfare to reflect the principles of UDAW. Furthermore, we will … ensure Canada plays a leadership role internationally to promote animal welfare.

With regard to animal transportation, the NDP’s Agriculture critic, Alex Atamanenko, MP, has been working to promote policies that protect animals from the various stresses they may endure during the excessively long transport times allowed under the current regulatory regime. He has been corresponding with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and meeting with officials since 2006 to urge them to move more quickly to modernize the current regulations around animal transportation. Although the CFIA has been studying this issue for several years, changes in regulations are still outstanding.

In 2008, Mr. Atamanenko had his motion passed at the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food (SCAAF) calling for CFIA officials to be brought before the Committee to present a briefing on the status of their regulatory review process. According to their presentation they were still working with the Justice Department and preparing the regulatory amendments for publication in the Canada Gazette to be followed by a public consultation process. In response to Mr. Atamanenko’s November, 2009 follow up letter, the CFIA indicated there was still no movement on this file.

Mr. Atamanenko also re-introduced his previous motion in the House of Commons. It states as follows:
M-436 – September 15, 2009 – Mr. Atamanenko (British Columbia Southern Interior) – That, in the opinion of the House, the government should immediately move to publish the revised regulations governing animal transportation under the Health of Animals Act.

Again, thank you for writing to me about such an important issue.

Collin

To quote a comment from Open-Eyes on one CBC newspage:

We must remember the parties do not own the voters, it is the other way around.

Change is slow, but I think we are on the path to seeing a new Canada. We have this opportunity now to create better legislation for our animals — companion, wild and farm animals. It is what we have been asking for for years, so let’s not waste it.

With thoughts of the slaughtered sled dogs, healthy pets killed in our shelters, abused farm animals, pathetic puppy mills, affordable spay/neuter options, stricter legislation for animal cruelty and so much more, I urge everyone to get behind some aspect of animal welfare and apply yourself to it.

Finally, change for our animals is at our fingertips. We CAN make it happen!


Stories about Canada’s election results


New Democrats weigh in on animal welfare

New Democrats weigh in on animal welfare

DAISY Foundation received the following message as a comment on the post about the Sled Dog vigil, but because Election Day is May 2, I want to also add it as a post so everyone is aware of the New Democrats’ stance with regards to animal welfare in Canada. Thank you Lesley for sharing this with us!

RESPONSE FROM NDP CANDIDATE COLLIN ANDERSON ON THEIR POSITION FOR ANIMAL RIGHTS

Hello Lesley,

New Democrats recognize that animal welfare is very important. We support strengthening provisions of the Cruelty to Animals Section of the Criminal Code of Canada to discourage violence and cruelty against animals and to punish those responsible for such acts.
We continue to support meaningful legislation to provide real protection for animals. The abuse of any vulnerable creature, human or otherwise, is something that we should all take extremely seriously.

Specifically, the NDP are on record in support of amending the Criminal Code to:
•    move animals out of property law and extend protections to wild animals and strays,
•    make it illegal to train animals for fighting or profit from animal fighting;
•    close loopholes that allow 99 per cent of those charged with animal cruelty to escape conviction.

We fought tirelessly in the past to get these important amendments through the House of Commons. We agree that the legislation Bill S-203, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals), is deeply flawed and that is why we joined the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) in opposing this Bill.

New Democrats also support the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare and will work with the Provinces, Territories, government departments and agencies and stakeholders to update Canada’s laws and policies on animal cruelty and welfare to reflect the principles of UDAW. Furthermore, we will … ensure Canada plays a leadership role internationally to promote animal welfare.

With regard to animal transportation, the NDP’s Agriculture critic, Alex Atamanenko, MP, has been working to promote policies that protect animals from the various stresses they may endure during the excessively long transport times allowed under the current regulatory regime. He has been corresponding with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and meeting with officials since 2006 to urge them to move more quickly to modernize the current regulations around animal transportation. Although the CFIA has been studying this issue for several years, changes in regulations are still outstanding.

In 2008, Mr. Atamanenko had his motion passed at the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food (SCAAF) calling for CFIA officials to be brought before the Committee to present a briefing on the status of their regulatory review process. According to their presentation they were still working with the Justice Department and preparing the regulatory amendments for publication in the Canada Gazette to be followed by a public consultation process. In response to Mr. Atamanenko’s November, 2009 follow up letter, the CFIA indicated there was still no movement on this file.

Mr. Atamanenko also re-introduced his previous motion in the House of Commons. It states as follows:
M-436 – September 15, 2009 – Mr. Atamanenko (British Columbia Southern Interior) – That, in the opinion of the House, the government should immediately move to publish the revised regulations governing animal transportation under the Health of Animals Act.

Again, thank you for writing to me about such an important issue.

Collin

You can read more about their stance on the Vote for Animals website. Or download Case for a Universal Declaration On Animal Welfare.

Remember: Get out and vote. Reading a blog or carrying signs for the news cameras won’t change the world for our animals. Voting can.


Will you vigil for the sled dogs on April 23rd?

Will you vigil for the sled dogs on April 23rd?

About this time a year ago, someone was sitting in the office of their business and looking over the financials. The expected boom from the recent Olympics had not worked out as expected, so changes had to be made. The easiest and quickest change would be to reduce the number of dogs this sled dog touring company had in its inventory. So he decided: 100 sled dogs needed to be killed.

And word was sent to the man who lives among them — the sled dogs’ very lifeline. It would be the job of their caretaker — the man who fed them, attended to them; the man who named them, and even kept one of them as his family dog — to kill them.

Reports that I have read say that he tried to find homes for as many as he could. And he was largely unsuccessful. The BC SPCA reportedly turned him down saying that sled dogs are unadoptable. This is not true.

But what I read that has stuck with me the most was the report released from Work Safe BC:

“As a result of the panic, mid-way through April 21st, he wounded but did not kill one dog, “Suzie”. Suzie was the mother of his family’s pet dog “Bumble”. He had to chase Suzie through the yard because the horrific noise she made when wounded caused him to drop the leash. Although she had the left side of her cheek blown off and her eye hanging out, he was unable to catch her. He then obtained a gun with a scope and used it to shoot her when she settled down close to another group of dogs. When he went to gather her body he was attacked by one of the other dogs and bitten in the arm. Although because he had a thick shirt on he was not injured, the moment was horrific given his fear when attacked combined with his feelings about the culling of the dogs.”

“On April 21 ,2010, he put down approximately 55 dogs. As he neared the end of the cull that day, the dogs were so panicked they were biting him; he had to wrap his arms in foam to prevent injury. He also had to perform what he described as “execution style” killings where he wrestled the dogs to the ground and stood on them with one foot to shoot them. The last few kills were “multiple-shot killings” as he was simply unable to get a clean shot. He described a guttural sound he had never heard before from the dogs and fear in their eyes.”

I do not doubt that this man has PTSD. I would be forever haunted. I want to scream at the computer that he could have done more and should have done more. But I have not walked in his shoes to fully understand the path he chose.

Instead I feel that on some level, in some parallel universe, or sadly in THIS universe, we ALL failed these dogs. We failed to realize the nature of this industry to periodically cull their dogs for business’ sake. We have failed to pull together as a society to be open and responding to their needs, we failed to help these babies.

Kyber, a Whistler sled dog


Most rescues and shelters are full… and likely responded as such if/when they were approached by Outdoor Adventures Whistler. Would/could they have responded differently if they had realized the very real urgency here?

As we finally start to really embrace a more humane lifestyle for our animals — pets, farm animals and wildlife, we must make ourselves available to the situations we encounter and respond appropriately. Both the situations that we know of and those that will arise. We need to improve our animal welfare legislation. We need to stop animals from being categorized as mere property and respect their sentience. We need to create a more effective countrywide network of rescues and shelters so that people in trouble can more easily tap into this community of caregivers when they need help. We need to do it for the animals.

 

On April 23, 2010, the last of the sled dogs were killed. And not in a pretty or humane way. They died terrified.

On April 23, 2011 in many communities across the globe, people will be marching or gathering in vigil to the victims who were given no say about their very own lives, the ONE thing that truly is our own. It’s not too late to organize your own sled dog vigil — whether it is a march, a gathering in a park or even inviting your friends to join you in your backyard. In remembrance of these dogs, we MUST enact better legislation for the welfare of our animals. And we must enact stiffer penalties for animal abuse/cruelty.

And remember: Get out and vote. Reading a blog or carrying signs for the news cameras won’t change the world. Voting can.

More photos of Outdoor Adventure Whistler sled dogs | Thanks to Amie Wills for posting their photos

List of cities holding vigils



Will you Vote for the Animals on May 2nd?

Will you Vote for the Animals on May 2nd?

(click image above for a smile…)

On May 2nd, Canadians will elect a new government. Animals can’t speak or vote so we must be their voice. Help us send the message that animals matter!

Visit the WSPA’s (World Society for the Protection of Animals) Vote for Animals site to:

Get more involved!

Here are a few things you can do to get more involved in campaigning to protect animals in your riding and across Canada.

  • Attend the all-candidates debate in your riding. Contact your local candidates for more information about when and where the debates will be held in your riding. Consider asking an animal welfare related question at the debate.
  • Collect signatures on WSPA’s petition for stronger animal cruelty laws. During the next session of Parliament, WSPA will see that these signatures are presented to the House of Commons. A similar petition effort in 2008 and 2009 resulted in a Parliamentary motion in support of a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare.
  • Follow Vote for Animals on Twitter and Facebook.

Now is the time to make change happen.

So much has come to light in the past year from the “No Country for Animals” documentary to the awful slaughter of 100 healthy sled dogs in Whistler and so many other cases inbetween.

Now is the time for us to unite our voices and do right for our animals.

Now is the time to speak for them.

Get out and vote. Reading a blog or carrying signs for the news cameras won’t change the world. Voting can.


More on the elections



UK lawyer responds to B.C.’s new animal protection legislation

UK lawyer responds to B.C.’s new animal protection legislation

In a letter to Sarah West, Founder and President of CFAWR — Canadians For Animal Welfare Reform, Peter Collins, a UK lawyer involved with charities and the media, applauds B.C.’s changes to its Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, including increasing penalties to as much as $75,000 and as long as 24 months imprisonment for the most serious offences. These changes come in the wake of the mass slaughter of sled dogs near Whistler last April 2010, Premier Christy Clark said.

Dear Madam,

As a lawyer in the UK involved with charities and the media, I was delighted to read your comments about the need to strengthen animal cruelty laws, a pleasant contrast to the dreadful publicity Canada usually receives due its abject failure to protect its animals. I hope you will also consider the following wider aspect when dealing with the legislation as it impacts upon people too.

There is huge evidence now that people/children who abuse and torture animals usually go on to abuse other people/children so it is vital that such people are properly punished, the punishments publicised widely, and put on an Animal Abusers Register, not only to protect animals but to protect children in the future. Parents of children who abuse animals need to be called to account for their feral offspring’s actions. Such cases of animal torture are on the increase, which means that violence to other people and children will escalate too. There is of course also an undeniable link between animal cruelty and domestic violence against women too.

Punishments meted out are usually pathetically lenient and many police forces fail to take it seriously leaving people and animals at risk in the future. This is not what your voters expect from its judicial system. It is very damaging to a country’s reputation if they fail to stamp this out.

Many studies in psychology, sociology, and criminology during the last 25 years have demonstrated that violent offenders frequently have childhood and adolescent histories of serious and repeated animal cruelty. If caught early in the violence cycle, perpetrators would be charged, arrested and dealt with before their violence escalates. Many serial killers, for example, have been documented as animal abusers and killers in their youth.

There is evidence now that people even witnessing violence towards animals (eg spectators of dog fighting,) often are shown to become violent towards other people, and for this reason the main TV station in Madrid have actually banned the broadcasting of bull fighting for this reason.

The latest indication of waning tolerance for the cruelty of bullfighting is the recent announcement by a Spanish broadcaster who is refusing to air bullfights on television, citing children as the reason for the ban. According to a New York Times article, the state broadcaster, RTVE, said Saturday that it would not broadcast bullfights due to the risk of exposing children to violence against animals.

Furthermore, with dog fighting, the dogs cause a severe danger to people as well. There have been thousands of cases all over the world where people, especially children, have been severely injured and killed by dogs trained to fight.

I wish you all the very best for what you are trying to do, and desperately hope you involve all of your Canada’s key governmental figures in the issue of animal welfare, namely to create and enforce strong animal welfare protection laws with proper penalties to protect domestic, farm and wild animals because through the media and internet all issues of animal suffering are discovered and publicised universally and millions of people all over the world, including my many Canadian friends, care deeply about animal welfare issues, as evidenced by the huge membership and wealth of many animal charities, and are connected on the internet, for example on social networking sites, and do not hesitate boycotting, and arranging boycotts, of tourism to countries, and a country’s goods, if it fails to protect its animals, and such boycotts have been very successful can cause severe damage at a time of economic crisis.

I know Canadian embassies all over the world have stated they receive more criticism on this than any other issue, and costs Canadian taxpayers millions every year. And look at the EU-wide ban on Canadian seal products!

Very best wishes.

Peter Collins

Our kudos to B.C., too!


Canada’s authoritarian stance against animal rights

Canada’s authoritarian stance against animal rights

How Ottawa stifles animal activists

By SILVER DONALD CAMERON
Sun, Mar 6 – 4:53 AM

“Canada,” said the U.S. journalist, “is heading toward becoming an authoritarian state to an extent that surprises observers even in China.” 

Another comment on Bev Oda and the garrotting of Kairos? Nope.

A reflection on the Harperites’ infatuation with harsh sentences and larger prisons? No.

Kyoto, Afghan detainees, the G20 repression, the flouting of the Supreme Court in the Omar Khadr case? Our humiliating defeat in the UN Security Council election? Could have been, but in fact it’s none of the above.

No, Merritt Clifton, editor of Animal People, published in Clinton, Wash., is writing about the federal government’s denial of free speech to animal welfare charities in Canada. And he’s in touch with animal rights activists in China. He knows what they think.

“On February 5, 2011,” writes Clifton, the Canada Revenue Agency published “draft regulations governing animal charities which would ensure that any animal charity speaking out against anything that is not already illegal would lose nonprofit status.”

One specific example: the regulations make it clear that a Canadian animal charity would lose its charitable status if it opposed vivisection, which is the practice of operating on living animals in order to gain knowledge of pathological or physiological processes. A charity could suffer the same fate if it opposed the fur industry or the seal hunt.

In fact, says Clifton, the draft regulations provide “that an animal charity may only advocate policies and practices which benefit humans more than animals.”

Really? I hustled off to the CRA website. Sure enough, that’s exactly what the draft regulations say. The logic, if one can call it that, derives from British common law. The courts, says CRA, have determined that “an activity or purpose is only charitable when it provides a benefit to humans. For some purposes and activities, including those relieving the suffering of animals, the courts have decided that the benefit is the promotion of the moral or ethical development of the community.”

But don’t try to argue that supporting animal welfare is a good thing in and of itself. “Promoting the welfare of animals,” the CRA declares, “is only charitable when it results in a benefit to humans.”

“Promoting the welfare of animals,” the CRA declares, “is only charitable when it results in a benefit to humans.”

With respect to vivisection, says the CRA, the courts have decided that “seeking to abolish vivisection is not charitable. This is in part because, as the courts have put it, despite the suffering inflicted on animals, the ‘immense and incalculable benefits which have resulted from vivisection’ and the ‘positive and calamitous detriment of appalling magnitude’ that would result from its abolition, outweigh any possible promotion of the moral and ethical development of the community.”

The gaping flaw in the CRA’s argument, of course, is that it freezes — indeed, prevents — the evolution of the law. The law reflects the moral consensus of the community at a particular moment in time. When the consensus changes, the law must change as well. The law once decreed that women were chattels, slavery was fine, and petty theft warranted hanging. When society reversed its thinking on these matters, the law eventually reversed its position, too.

The CRA argues, in effect, that charitable purposes can only reflect the past — the decisions that the courts have already made. But the very phrase “the moral and ethical development of the community” concedes that moral and ethical attitudes evolve. That’s what the word “development” means. And if moral attitudes have evolved, then someone who demands corresponding changes in the law is very precisely “promoting the moral and ethical development of the community.”

A growing body of opinion now holds that we will not achieve our human potential — or even survive — unless we develop a respectful, ethical relationship with the rest of nature. The coyote, the cod and the chestnut have a right to live and flourish, and advocating on their behalf — with or without a benefit to humans — is a deeply moral activity and a legitimate charitable purpose.

Do the Harperites disagree? We’ll never know. They ignore ideas, and attack people instead. Lie about them. Impugn their motives. Cut their funding. Dissolve their organizations. Imprison them. Deny them charitable status.

“Canada is heading toward becoming an authoritarian state to an extent that surprises observers even in China.”

A chilling remark. I wish I could claim it was wrong.


reprinted from the Chronicle Herald

Download the article | Read the CRA draft


New legislation against animal cruelty is happening across Canada

New legislation against animal cruelty is happening across Canada

N.W.T. passes revamped Dog Act

BLACK DOG © Fernando Jose Vascocelos Soares | Dreamstime.comCBC News | MarCH 4, 2011

Northwest Territories MLAs have passed new legislation that protects dogs from abuse, but the new law has an exemption that some say could be used as a loophole.

The N.W.T.’s previous Dog Act was based on legislation from the 1950s, when sled dogs were used for transportation. Changes to update the act were passed on Friday. (CBC)

A bill to update the Dog Act received assent on Friday, after it passed third reading in the territorial legislature.

The new legislation, which introduces tougher penalties for people who abuse or neglect dogs, replaces the previous Dog Act, which was based on laws dating to the 1950s.

Unlike animal legislation in southern Canada, the N.W.T.’s old Dog Act focused on dealing with sled dogs, which have been used for transportation in the North.

An earlier proposal by MLAs would have exempted owners from penalty if they caused distress to dogs while carrying out “traditional practices” such as dog-sledding and hunting.

‘Accepted activities’

That proposal sparked an outcry from animal-protection activists and others who said the term was vague and difficult to interpret.

The legislation was since changed so that the exemption applies “if the distress is caused by a treatment, process or condition that occurs in the course of an accepted activity.”

The act defines accepted activities to include the use of dogs to help with hunting, trapping, and protecting people from wildlife. (Read the new Dog Act here.)

An accepted activity must not cause a dog undue suffering, the legislation adds.

Yellowknife Frame Lake MLA Wendy Bisaro said Friday that while the new legislation is “far improved from what we had before,” she still had concerns about the exemption.

“I don’t feel that part of the bill is necessary,” Bisaro said in the legislature.

Not a loophole, says minister

Municipal and Community Affairs Minister Robert McLeod said he does not believe the exemption will present a loophole for people accused of abusing their dogs.

“I don’t believe it’s a loophole,” McLeod told CBC News.

“If a guy goes up before a judge for cruelty to animals … where you leave 10 dogs outside starving to death, I don’t think he can use traditional practice as a loophole, because it’s not our traditional practice to leave dogs tied up outside and starving to death.”

McLeod added that longtime northerners who have used their dogs for traditional practices like sledding and hunting are among those who best look after their dogs.

Under the old Dog Act, those found guilty of a first offence were fined $25. The penalties for a first offence are now $2,500 or a three-month jail term or both.

Those found guilty of subsequent violations of the new Dog Act will be fined $10,000, handed a six-month jail term, or both.

Read more about the Dog Act


reprinted from CBC News