Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Wednesday, October 17, 2018. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Canada’s proposed new laws against bestiality don’t go far enough, critics say

Issue stems from a Supreme Court of Canada ruling

The Liberal government is proposing changes to strengthen laws against bestiality and animal fighting, but advocates against animal cruelty, including a Liberal MP, say these measures are the bare minimum of what is needed.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould introduced legislation Thursday that would expand the definition of bestiality to make it clear the offence prohibits any contact for a sexual purpose between a person and an animal.

Current bestiality laws are too narrowly defined and must be broadened to ensure both animals and the general public are better protected, Wilson-Raybould said.

“For many Canadians, animals are an important extension of our families and of our communities. Our laws need to reflect these values and protect animals and provide protection to them that they require from such senseless acts of violence,” she said.

The changes stem from a court ruling two years ago that saw a B.C. man — who was found guilty of sexually molesting his two step-daughters and one count of bestiality —successfully challenged the bestiality conviction in the B.C. Court of Appeal based on the fact the activity did not involve penetration.

The Supreme Court of Canada affirmed that ruling.

Wilson-Raybould says this new bill would address the loophole in the current laws, acknowledging that had these measures been in place already, the B.C. case might have turned out differently.

Another change in the law will also ban a broad range of activities involving animal fighting, including promoting, arranging and profiting from animal fights as well as breeding, training and transporting animals to a fight — activities that have been linked to organized crime.

READ MORE: Tougher laws introduced against bestiality, animal fighting

Two years ago, Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith put forward a private member’s bill to address the bestiality loophole and animal fighting, but his bill also included a ban on importing shark fins and cat and dog fur. It also would have made the “brutal and vicious” killing of an animal a new offence and would have changed the standard for animal cruelty from wilful neglect to “gross negligence.”

His bill was defeated after members of his own Liberal caucus voted against it.

Erskine-Smith characterized the changes in his justice minister’s bill as “modest,” and hopes they will mark the first steps in a larger conversation about addressing animal cruelty in Canada.

He was also critical of the “meat and hunting” lobby, which he contends influenced the defeat of his bill by spreading misinformation about the impact on their industries.

“Everything gets politicized in this place (so) even modest measures, and measures that should be non-controversial to end animal cruelty, become a great controversy because of the great disinformation spread by the meat and hunting lobbyists in particular,” he said.

“Getting to a place where we have consensus amongst Conservatives, Liberals, NDP, Greens and the stakeholders here, not just the animal activists, but the meat and hunting lobbyists — it takes time to get that place.”

He pointed to a letter published in December 2017 jointly signed by a number animal welfare, veterinary and meat production advocacy groups, including the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, saying they had reached consensus to support the two changes now included in Wilson-Raybould’s bill.

This letter was likely the licence Wilson-Raybould needed to “act in a way that previously the controversy prevented her from acting,” Erskine-Smith said.

The government’s news release announcing the bill highlights that a “common ground approach” was taken to the proposed Criminal Code changes to ensure the law does not interfere with legitimate farming, hunting and trapping practices.

Camille Labchuk, executive director of the group Animal Justice, which intervened in the B.C. bestiality case, says Ottawa’s attempts to make this “palatable” to animal production and hunting industries is “very disturbing.”

“In my view, government should not be making animal cruelty legislation designed to protect animal-use industries, they should be designed to protect animals,” she said.

Labchuk says she remains deeply concerned the bill does not address broader promises from the Trudeau Liberals to reform Canada’s animal cruelty laws.

“What we’ve seen today on bestiality and animal fighting is literally the very least thing that they could have done,” she said.

“These provisions are welcome, but they really should have been introduced as part of a larger package of desperately needed Criminal Code reforms.”

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

AESS senior girls eyeing spot in basketball provincials

The team needs to move up one more ranking get a place in the championships

Agassiz man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

Chilliwack Chief Harrison Blaisdell climbs Central Scouting Bureau rankings

The 17 year old forward is now drawing a second round grade as CSB releases its mid-term list.

Classical paired with folk for Chilliwack Metropolitan Orchestra’s winter concert

Chilliwack Metropolitan Orchestra presents Tchaikovsky in America at G.W. Graham theatre

Community artists, amateurs wanted to create Kent anniversary logo

The 125th anniversary committee is hoping to choose a logo designed by the community

VIDEO: Harrison sailor looking for competitors to race model boats

Bernhard Van Velze is hoping to create a club for model sailboats at Harrison Lake

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

South Surrey mother didn’t have the intent to kill her daughter: defence

Closing submissions in case of Lisa Batstone underway

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

VIDEO: 11-year-old violinist practices for Vancouver Symphony Orchestra debut

Cloverdale student Da-Wei Chan will perform Jan. 31, Feb. 28 with the VSO

Most Read