Oct 6, 2008.

Here’s a letter from Jack Layton to refresh our memories of what happened earlier this year and why we should vote for the NDP.

Thank you for your recent email opposing Bill S-203, An Act to amend the
Criminal Code (cruelty to animals). The federal NDP supports
strengthening provisions of the Cruelty to Animals Section of the
Criminal Code of Canada to discourage violence and cruelty against
animals and to punish those responsible for such acts.

Regrettably, Harper’s Conservatives and Dion’s Liberals have teamed up
once again. This time they are blocking efforts to modernize Canada’s
19th-century animal cruelty law.

For years, Parliament has been trying to change the law to reflect our
Canadian values. This includes closing loopholes that shield abusers,
stopping those who profit from animal fights, taking animals out of
property law, and protecting wild and stray animals.

All those efforts are at risk. The Conservative government and Liberal
opposition have abandoned a promising bill (C-373) which had with strong
public support. Instead, they are lining up behind Bill S-203-a weak
bill slipped in through the undemocratic Senate-and they’re blocking
every NDP effort to amend it.

I am sure you will agree that Bill S-203 is a trick. It’s designed to
bury this issue by creating an illusion of progress. How? This bill
increases penalties for some existing offences. Yet, it does nothing to
fix the 115-year-old loopholes that protect abusers from prosecution in
the first place.

What can you do? Alongside every animal protection agency in the
country, you can tell the old-line parties to get serious about animal
protection-and kill Bill S-203:

– Rob Nicholson, Conservative Justice Minister: /
– Dominic LeBlanc, Liberal Justice Critic: /

Looking forward, the NDP will continue to support meaningful legislative
initiatives that provide real protection for animals. The abuse of any
vulnerable creature, human or otherwise, is something that we should all
take seriously.

Again, thanks for your interest in this important matter. Feel free to
pass along this email to your contacts. All the best.


Jack Layton, MP (Toronto-Danforth)
Leader, Canada’s New Democrats

April 9, 2008

Ineffective cruelty bill passes House but fails animals

OTTAWA – Senate Bill S-203 on animal cruelty was passed by the House of Commons, but has failed to bring about any meaningful changes to protect animals, said MP Mark Holland today.

The Conservative government mustered enough support among MPs to pass the controversial Senate private member’s bill on animal cruelty. Many Opposition MPs joined Liberal MP Mark Holland in voting against S-203 because it maintains the status quo whereby the majority of known perpetrators of serious animal abuse are unable to be successfully tried and convicted.

“S-203 advances one thing only, increased penalties,” said Holland. “Under our laws it is nearly impossible to prosecute perpetrators of animal cruelty crimes – Bill S-203 will do nothing to change the fact that less than one percent of all animal cruelty cases result in successful convictions.”

Recognizing the need to update this country’s 19th century animal cruelty laws, the Department of Justice has spent the last decade working on this issue. Holland points out that while the Harper government has chosen to blatantly disregard this work, the previous Liberal government presented several bills on this issue, including Bill C-50 which died when the 2005 federal election was called. Bill C-50, and its predecessors, was a product of exhaustive consultations with the legal community, with Parliamentarians and Canadians on both sides of the issue, including animal welfare and animal use industry groups.

In October 2006, Holland tabled his own private member’s bill C-373, identical to the former Liberal government’s Bill C-50. Bill C-373 is supported by all respected animal welfare groups, and hundreds of thousands of Canadians who support meaningful reform. Bill C-373 also enjoys the support of the majority of opposition MPs in the House of Commons, yet without government backing, few bills advance and fewer still pass.

Remarked Holland, “This government has shown their lack of commitment to passing effective animal cruelty legislation by supporting Bill S-203. Clearly, this task will have to wait until Canadians elect a new Liberal government.”

Over 200,000 Canadians have signed petitions supporting effective animal cruelty legislation such as C-373 and more than 10,000 people are members of a  Facebook group devoted to this issue.

– 30 –

For further information:
Office of Mark Holland, M.P., Ajax-Pickering
(613) 995-8614


St. Catharines Conservative MP Rick Dykstra voted for a Senate-sponsored bill yesterday that would increase penalties for abuse of animals but allow 99% of animal abusers to go unprosecuted.
Bill S-203 was passed in the House of Commons free-vote despite opposition to the legislation from several organizations and over 147,000 Canadians, including those from the Niagara region who signed the Queen Waldorf petition in support of Bill C-373, a private member’s bill to toughen animal cruelty laws.
“The free-vote gives MPs the democratic opportunity to be a voice for their constituents independant of pressure from their party.” said Sherry Nath, administrator of .”It’s a sad day for democracy when our MPs ignore the wishes of those who elected them in good faith and choose to support a non-elect Senate who expedited their placebo bill against opposition from every major animal welfare organization in Canada.
The Senate bill was supported by the Liberal and Conservative MPs on the committee and opposed by the NDP, The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, The World Society for the Protection of Animals, The International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Canadian Veterinarian Medical Association.
Mark Holland, MP for Ajax-Pickering, who has introduced Bill C-373 in the House, said “To pass an animal cruelty law that has every major animal welfare group opposed to it makes no sense.”
Queen Waldorf, the elderly German Shepherd found with weights on her collar beside the Chippawa River, put her pawprint on a petition started in front of the St. Catharines courthouse last June. Since then, organizers have collected close to 17,000 signatures from around the Niagara area and elsewhere in support of Bill C-373.
“I feel that Mr. Dykstra has let down most of his constituents. I hope everyone in Mr.Dykstra’s riding who signed the petitions for Bill C-373 will exercise good judgement when re-election comes around.” said Nath.
Queen Waldorf , her new owner Claudia Belson of St. Catharines and sponsor of the petitions Suzanne Mason, also one of Mr. Dykstra’s constituents, visited Mr.Dykstra’s office in person only weeks ago to discuss the short-comings of the Senate bill.
Nath explained that Bill S-203, unlike Bill C-373, still considers animals as property, does not make it an offence to breed, train or sell animals for fighting, does not protect stray or wild animals and makes it almost impossible to get a conviction for a violation as the wilful intent to harm an animal has to be proven.
Canada’s laws pertaining to the treatment of animals are considered to be below the standards in several countries, including the Phillipines. The Senate bill supported by Mr. Dykstra will increase fines but allow 99% of animal abusers to fall through the gaping loopholes provided by the century
old wording.
To see how your MP voted on animal cruelty legislation visit or

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Canadian Animal Abuse Database

To view Animal abuse cases in Canada: Click Here


Permission to use photos of Queen Waldorf provided by Niagara Falls Humane Society


Falling Behind:
An international comparison of Canada's
Animal Cruelty Legislation

Click Here to view
Permission to post cruelty report given by IFAW