The National Citizens Alliance recognizes that human beings share the planet and its natural environment with other life-forms. We believe that while we share space and time with them the welfare of these other life-forms requires respect. Animals, including human beings, play vital roles in balancing our ecosystems. The demise of animals directly affects our well-being in the natural environment, and it is inconsistent with an interconnected view of the natural world. In addition, the National Citizens Alliance believes that because animals cannot enter, fulfill, or violate social contracts, they cannot possess rights like human beings. Yet, the National Citizens Alliance supports protection of animals’ welfare. How we treat animals is a reflection of who we are.
Key Prevailing Issues:
● Outdated federal legislation
The Criminal Code of Canada in terms of animal welfare has remained largely unchanged since 1892. There have been changes to increase penalties, but the application and scope of the current laws remain ineffective. This makes it difficult to prosecute animal abusers. The Criminal Code of Canada needs amendments to bring its animal protection provisions in line with those of provincial laws, to help provide more consistency in Canada’s protection of animals, and to provide authorities with more legislative provisions with which to prosecute animal abusers. As well, the Criminal Code considers animals to be property, with sections specific for cattle, dogs, birds, and other animals.
● Wilful neglect provisions make prosecutions problematic
The Criminal Code states that “wilful neglect” requires prosecutors to prove that an accused intended to inflect harm, abuse, or intended to kill his or her animal(s). Judges may determine that an accused did not plan or intend wilful neglect and thus could be not guilty under the law. Instead, if there were a standard for animal welfare, a standard expected of people and their behaviour towards any animal, whether pets, wildlife, strays, farm animals or otherwise, then any deviation from or violations of this standard of care, or failure to provide this standard, then effective protection and prosecutions for animal welfare could be in place.
The National Citizens Alliance supports:
● Encouraging the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW) by countries worldwide, as well as encouraging and enabling their national governments, including Canada’s federal and provincial governments, to introduce and improve animal protection legislation and initiatives
● Increasing sentences and fines under the Criminal Code of Canada for abuses of animal welfare
● Requiring that fines and punishment in the provinces and territories be no less than those under the Criminal Code
● Promoting initiatives that help forward the view that animals are more than just property under the social construct of ownership
● Providing clear definition of what constitutes an animal or groupings of animal life to provide more consistent regulations for protection and prosecutions
● Amending the bestiality law to make sex with an animal, whether involving penetration or non-penetration, is a crime
● ensuring that cruel treatment or abuse encompasses all animals whether they be pets, farm animals, wildlife or stray animals
● Banning the captivity of marine mammals including and not limited to whales, dolphins and porpoises, and establishing an ethical and timely phasing out of marine mammal captivity in Canada
● Establishing national protocols, with moratoriums when necessary, to limit and regulate the farming of wild animals, such as salmon and elk etc., so that only with clear scientific evidence demonstrating a case beyond just profit motives to protect animal species from extinction or unbalanced and compromised ecosystems
● Accepting and including into Criminal Code a definition of what constitutes a “standard of welfare”, which would be ensuring the UDAW five freedoms of: freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition; freedom from fear and distress; freedom from physical and thermal discomfort; freedom from pain, injury and disease; and freedom to express normal patterns of behavior these five freedoms apply to human imposition on animals as opposed to animals in their natural state, and subject to culture practices relating to animals
● Removing the simple use of wilful neglect from the Criminal Code, so that in addition to wilful neglect the definition of standard of welfare based on the five freedoms is added to provisions of the Criminal Code in relation to animal welfare
● Including animal fighting, taking part in animal fighting, training animals to engage in fighting other animals, gambling or profiting in animal fighting as provisions in the Criminal Code to enforce as part of animal welfare and protection
● Including religious slaughter and any other unstunned slaughter because it causes “great avoidable pain” (Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, British Veterinarian Association and Federation of Veterinarians of Europe), and therefore as provisions in the Criminal Code to enforce religious slaughter according to animal welfare and protection
● Prohibiting people found guilty of violating animal welfare legislation from owning animals, caring for, or being licensed to own animals, depending on the severity of their criminal violations
● Working with the Canadian agricultural, livestock, poultry, animal and fish farming industries to ensure containment of animals is consistent the standard of welfare
● Enabling public input from Canadians by creating a broad, diverse national committee with a balanced membership of diverse stakeholders in industries and organizations involved in the welfare of animals, including pet breeding, farming, municipalities, provincial and federal departments, ministries and agencies dealing with wildlife, zoos, organizations involved in scientific animal research, fishing and hunting organizations, veterinary associations, and sanctuaries, as well as private citizens who own pets, etc. to advise government on its animal welfare policy
● Working with municipalities to move away from simply licensing dogs, cats or other pets, and implementing mandatory licensing for pet owners
● Requiring all breeding of dogs and cats to be done by individuals trained in husbandry
● Regulating the pet food industry to help ensure pet food is safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, and contain no harmful substances, and is accurately labeled
● Collaborating with municipalities, provinces and territories, to prohibit the personal importation into, and ownership of exotic animals in, Canada with clear restrictive criteria for any importation and care of exotic animals by organizations, such as zoos and research organizations
● Standing up for the freedom of Canadian people to own dog species of their choosing, while being fully accountable for those decisions if the dog attacks an individual
● Conducting round tables with Aboriginal peoples to maintain sustainable Aboriginal cultural practices related to animals, and to establish and maintain animal welfare standards for pet ownership on First Nation reservations
● Maintaining a balance between upholding animal welfare standards and respecting the rights of Aboriginal peoples to practice and preserve their culture in relation to animals with cruelty being the determining factor
The National Citizens Alliance believes that animals cannot be bestowed rights in the same sense that people in society have under a social contract. However, the National Citizens Alliance supports the concept that, for fairness towards animals and for the sake of accountability on the part of people, a standard of care must be in place to protect animals through the provision of a clearly defined standard of welfare for animals. The NCA believes that the standard of welfare should be based on the five freedoms outlined by the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare. The NCA supports initiatives towards the federal adoption of the Declaration, and the passing of new federal legislation or amendments to the current Animal Cruelty sections of the Criminal Code of Canada, in order to elevate animal welfare and protection in Canada. The NCA will work with any party willing to achieve these goals and objectives but with respect to the party’s values, principles and mission.
The National Citizens Alliance welcomes feedback on its policies. Please send policy feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org