Ontario Federation of Agriculture Commentary
By Bruce Buttar, OFA Director
Bill C-246, the Modernizing Animal Protection Act, is set for second reading and debate on September 28. When it comes to a vote on October 6, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture urges all MPs to vote against Bill C-246.
OFA stands together with many other organizations for a stronger voice against this faulty bill and the serious consequences it will have for animal agriculture and the industry’s contribution to the Canadian economy.
The bill seeks to prohibit the practice of shark finning which is already illegal in Canada, address illegal puppy mills, and prohibit the use of cat and dog fur in textiles. That’s clearly not the part of the bill that OFA is concerned about. These issues should be prohibited and OFA fully supports that intent.
But Bill C-246 doesn’t stop there. It also includes a series of amendments to the Criminal Code that, if passed, could seriously impact agricultural activities in Canada.
OFA is against the amendments proposed in Bill C-246 that stand to impact animal agriculture. Here are some of our main concerns:
- Bill C-246 puts the onus on the defendant to prove innocence, undermining the presumption of innocence.
- The bill removes current protections for legal activities including livestock farming, hunting, fishing, medical research and religion-based practices.
- The bill risks criminalizing farming, hunting and other activities that are currently legal, and lowers the standard to lay criminal charges for lawful behaviour.
- If passed, amendments to Bill C-246 will be used to test legal applications in costly court cases, which is what the animal rights community has promised to do when similar bills were unsuccessfully put forward.
- The Bill doesn’t address enforcement – something that everyone agrees is a fundamental problem when applying animal protection laws.
If Bill C-246 simply addressed the issues of shark finning, puppy mills and pet fur in textiles, OFA would support it. Our strong opposition to this bill stems from the substantial, proposed amendments that have the very real potential to negatively impact Canadian farmers and others engaged in legal, lawful activities that contribute in a big way to the Canadian economy.
Over the last 15 or more years, several similar bills to Bill C-246 have been introduced in parliament. None of those bills survived as they didn’t reflect the will of parliament. OFA members need to call their MP to ensure that C-246 suffers the same fate.
The full position statement of OFA on Bill C-246 is available at ofa.on.ca/issuesunder “farm animal care”.