People are often shocked to hear that Canada’s federal Parliament hasn’t passed any significant animal protection legislation since the 1800s. Last month this all changed with the passage of two groundbreaking new animal protection bills. These laws also come on the heels of a recent Canadian ban on whale and dolphin captivity, which was discussed in an earlier blog post.
Banning the Cruel Shark Fin Trade
After years of protests across the country, Canada has finally moved to outlaw the trade in shark fin products with the passage of Bill C-68. As one of the largest importers of shark fins outside of Asia, this means that countless sharks will be saved from the inherently cruel practice of shark finning––cutting off a shark’s dorsal fin and throwing the animal back into the ocean to die a slow and painful death. Shark finning has long been considered an inherently harmful practice, leading to a huge decline in global shark populations; posing a significant threat to marine ecosystems; and causing immense suffering to highly-developed animals. Canada is the first G20 country to ban the shark fin trade, making Canada a world leader in protecting this vulnerable species from extinction.
Outlawing Bestiality and Strengthening Animal Fighting Laws
Bill C-84 outlaws all forms of animal sexual abuse and strengthens existing laws against animal fighting. Canada has some of the worst animal cruelty laws in the Western world, and this bill takes huge strides to bring these laws into the 21st century.
In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that all forms of sexual abuse of animals short of penetration were legal. Since then, Canadians have been fighting to expand the definition of bestiality. Bill C-84 finally closes this loophole, making all forms of sexual abuse of animals illegal. Under this new law, those convicted of bestiality will be listed on Canada’s national sex offender registry.
The bill also strengthens the laws against animal fighting. The bill outlaws the promotion of animal fights; prohibits the breeding or training of animals for fighting; and makes it illegal to build or maintain an arena for animal fighting.
A Victorious Month for Animals in Canada
June was a month of huge victories for animals in Canada. Of course, there is still a lot that needs to be done to bring Canada’s animal protection laws into the modern era, but this legislation is a step worth celebrating. Thanks to the efforts of citizens, supportive politicians, animal protection organisations and advocates across the country, animals are finally back on the political agenda after almost 200 years of inaction––let’s keep it that way!
JD Candidate 2020
University of Ottawa
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