October 10, 2002
Bill threatens stampedes, senators warn: 'That leaves the opportunity for animal rights groups [to] shut that down': Cruelty-to-animals law
OTTAWA - The Calgary Stampede and other Canadian traditions could disappear if the federal government's cruelty-to-animals bill becomes law, warn several senators.
Terry Stratton, a Tory Senator from Manitoba, says the bill does not define many of the key terms that could lead to a criminal charge of cruelty to animals, boosting animal rights activists who regularly protest stampedes.
"I have a distinct feeling that the Calgary Stampede, the Morris Stampede, the Swan River Stampede and any other stampede will be in a great deal of trouble after this bill passes," he said, citing chuckwagon races as an event that has been criticized.
"At times, there are crashes and horses are hurt or injured and they have to be put down. So my concern is that leaves the opportunity for these animal rights groups to say, 'That's wrong,' and, under this law, shut that kind of thing down. I think that needs to be explored because that would be, to me, a real threat to institutions such as stampedes, which are held across the West. That would destroy them."
The omnibus bill creates a Criminal Code section on cruelty to animals, which previously fell under the section dealing with property, and increases the maximum jail sentence to five years.
The government insists such activities as stampedes, hunting, fishing, trapping and scientific testing on animals will continue to be legal under the new legislation.
Several Liberal senators also raised "serious concerns" with the bill for a range of reasons. Willie Adams, from Nunavut, said he was concerned the bill could hurt trappers; Anne Cools of Toronto questioned whether the bill makes killing an animal a more serious crime than infanticide; and Serge Joyal of Quebec said the bill appeared to be inconsistent with the Criminal Code and urged senators to challenge the powerful animal-rights lobby.