+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 4-02S

Bill C-15B - Cruelty to Animals

January 1, 2002
Expiry Date:
March 31, 2005
Active Status:
Vote Results:

WHEREAS Bill C-15B, an Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals and Firearms) and the Firearms Act, will provide protection for animals from abuse and neglect;AND WHEREAS current provisions within the Criminal Code of Canada already provide adequate regulations and penalties in this regard; AND WHEREAS removing animal cruelty offenses from Part XI of the Criminal Code (property crime) will mean the loss of important legal justification and colour of right defenses, and will give impetus towards substantial and potentially unreasonable expansion of animal rights;AND WHEREAS the proposed re-definition of animal is too vague and will lead to unnecessary and frivolous nuisance lawsuits;AND WHEREAS any person involved in the production of animals for food, food products, leisure, sport or research will be potentially exposed to such nuisance lawsuits;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Government of Canada to revise Bill C-15B and the proposed amendments to the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals and Firearms) and the Firearms Act by inserting the following additional clause as section 20(2) of the Act:20(2) Exceptions: Necessary Measures. For the purpose of clause 20(1), no injury or serious physical pain is caused unnecessarily if it is a reasonable necessary means of achieving any of the following purposes:(a) identification, medical treatment, spaying or neutering;(b) provision of food or other animal products;(c) hunting, trapping, fishing, and other sporting activities conducted in accordance with the lawful rules relating to them;(d) pest, predator or disease control;(e) protection of persons or property;(f) scientific research; and(g) disciplining or training of an animal.

Member Background:

Many Canadians have been shocked by displays of cruelty to animals by their owners as portrayed in the popular media. In response, the Government of Canada has introduced Bill C-15B, an Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals) and the Firearms Act.According to information supplied by the Department of Justice, a premise for the tougher law is that all animals feel pain and are deserving of legal protection from negligence or intentional cruelty.Specific changes to the Criminal Code will:(a) consolidate provisions related to cruelty to animals and no longer treat offences as property crimes;(b) make it illegal to brutally or viciously kill animals;(c) raise the penalty for intentional cruelty to a maximum of five years imprisonment with no set limit for fines;(d) provide that anyone convicted of animal cruelty can be prohibited from owning animals for any period of time a judge considers appropriate; and(e) give judges the authority to order anyone found guilty of animal cruelty to pay restitution to the animal welfare organization that cared for the animal.Although Alberta rural municipalities support legislation protecting animals from undue neglect and injury, in this case the possibility of frivolous nuisance lawsuits and unnecessary criminal charges as a result of this legislation will far outweigh any purported benefits.Provisions currently exist within Sections 444, 445, 446 and 447 of the Criminal Code of Canada that deal directly with the whole cruelty to animal issue. The current laws protecting the welfare of animals are sufficient, and have withstood challenges in the courts. The amendments to the Criminal Code that are proposed by Bill C-15B go far beyond the original intention of the Bill, specifically:(a) removal of cruelty to animal offences from the property crime classification, and creation of a new category of offence for animal cruelty, will give significant impetus towards substantial expansion of animal rights; and(b) the term brutally or viciously kill animals leaves too much room for interpretation. Although some leeway was allowed in the interpretation by including the word necessary, the interpretation is nevertheless too broad for comfort.

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