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“Best Province To Be An Animal Abuser” Introduces New Animal Protection Law

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La Belle Province just became a little more belle with the introduction of a new bill that acknowledges all animals are beings that actually possess feelings and biological needs. I knew that when I was 15 and stopped eating meat, but won’t launch into a rant.

After  three years of being named the “best province to be an animal abuser” by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Pierre Paradis, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food decided to put his foot down and say “Non” by bringing in a bill that will at long last give animals improved legal status.

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“In 2014, the Animal Legal Defense Fund found that, for the third year in a row, Quebec was the ‘best province to be an animal abuser,’ a situation that is completely unacceptable. With the tabling of this bill, I confirm the government’s willingness to reprimand animal negligence and cruelty. The definition of the legal situation of animals is based on the best European legislation. As for behaviours that will not be tolerated, we took inspiration from the statutes in effect in the three Canadian provinces that lead the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s ranking—Manitoba, Ontario and British Columbia,” said Paradis.

Bill 54 challenges unacceptable treatment of animals by declaring that they are no longer considered to be movable property, but rather beings that have feelings and biological needs. Although the bill states that negligence or cruelty will result in a reprimand, it’s not really clear what that means. A hefty fine? Prison term served in a kennel? Endless “Game of Throne” spoilers on your Facebook feed? The working is a little vague.

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The bill will also improve the “legal situation” of animals with language pulled from some of the best European legislation out there.  If that’s the case, we should expect to see the elimination of battery cages for chickens, gestation crates for pigs, branding of cows, tail docking of sheep and some pretty hefty penalties including jail time for those who break these laws. Time will tell.

As for what is classified as “unacceptable behaviors”, the ministry has taken its cue from the statues in place in three of Canada’s top rated provinces according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund – Manitoba, Ontario, and British Columbia.

As Québec is home to some of the biggest puppy mills in Canada, it will be interesting to see which industries try to push back and who dares to step up in their defence.

On a positive note, Québec’s Minister of Justice Stéphanie Vallée, “The Civil Code of Québec must reflect the values of society. The bill that was tabled is part of positive legislative change that attests to advancements in society.”  Well stated, Mme Vallée. Let’s hope so. And we’ll be watching.

[Source: Government of Quebec]


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