After public outcry and strong criticism, MPP Jack MacLaren of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario withdrew private members Bill 37 but has now tabled Bill 47 in its place. This new Bill will hand over inspection rights for farm animals to members of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). This will undermine the protection of farm animals. This Bill has a clear conflict of interest and bias. Passing Bill 47 will provide for zero transparency and accountability in a notoriously inhumane industry. Imagine, the very people who slaughter animals for food will be the ones to "ensure" standards are maintained. It is unconscionable to hand over the welfare of farm animals to any group that has vested interests in the agriculture industry. Indeed, there is such an inappropriate bias here that it is insulting.
Also, under Bill 47, farmers will be allowed to call in their own veterinarians to determine whether abuse exists. Veterinarians who are paid by these farmers and make a living through servicing these farmers' animals will, in many cases, not want to cause trouble and "bite the hands that feed them", so they will be compelled to look the other way.
Separating farm animals' rights from those of 'pets' also makes the point that farm animals do not deserve the same care and protection, that they are 'products', which is ludicrous. All animals suffer and feel pain and should be afforded equal protection.
There are also concerns about whether police officers have sufficient specialized knowledge of animal husbandry to recognize distress, whether they have the skills to deal with exotic, dangerous or aggressive animals and whether the police service has enough resources to take on this extra role. Bill 47 would add very high policing costs and court costs as it asks the police to dedicate time and resources to dealing with animal cruelty crimes after the OSPCA has already investigated, creating unnecessary duplication and waste (triplication if you consider that OMAFRA investigators may also now be involved in cases that they previously would have left to the OSPCA). It involves the courts in issuing animal protection orders and removal orders. Would this money be made available or would animal crimes simply not be prosecuted?
To make a stronger impact, please send an email to Premier Dalton McGuinty (firstname.lastname@example.org), MPP Tim Hudak (email@example.com), MPP Andrea Horwath (firstname.lastname@example.org) and all of Ontario's MPPs, politely asking that they not support Bill 47. Online petitions are good at spreading the word, but phone calls and emails make a much bigger difference.
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-Separate inspections into (a) farm animal inspections and (b) non-farm animal inspections
-Farm inspections will be carried out by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)
-Non-farm animal inspections will be carried out by the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA)
-OMAFRA & OSPCA Inspection officers will be the first response to complaints and will be limited to observation, advisement, education, and writing reports on visits made
-Inspectors will no longer have the power of a police officer and will not be able to inspect without the permission of the land owner
-Enforcement will be done by the OPP or local police force ONLY after abuse has been substantiated and reported on by the inspectors. Police force enforcement to stop actual abuse should be few and far between
-Abused animal removal will only be done with the recommendation of a veterinarian and sanctioned by a justice of the peace
-OSPCA will no longer be able to invoice animal owners
-Only the police will be able to lay charges under the Provincial Offences Act or the Criminal Code of Canada
Listen to Jack McLaren's interview on CBC here.