Canadian Green Party 2005-2006 Animal Protection Plank

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Canadian Green Party
2005-2006 Animal Protection Plank

September 2008

The Green Party of Canada sees both human and non-human species as having intrinsic value. We therefore recognize that the animals humans eat, use in science, hunt, trap, and exploit in a variety of ways have a life of their own that is of importance to them apart from their utility to us. Non human animals are not only in the world, they are aware of it. What happens to them matters to them, and each has a life that fares better or worse for our actions.

That life includes a variety of biological, individual, and social needs. The satisfaction of these needs is a source of pleasure, their frustration or abuse, a source of pain. In these fundamental ways, nonhuman animals are similar to human beings. For this reason, people must apply fundamental ethics to the ways in which we interact with the non-human animals which share our world.

We are committed to a world where animals are treated as equal and respected for their own sake as well as for what they give us. Today, although numerous alternatives are available, we continue to breed, torture, and slaughter animals in mass quantities for fashion, food, research, product testing, and entertainment.

We believe people have a right to choose their own lifestyles; however, we also believe that if animals are involved, they must be treated with respect and dignity and enjoy a relatively pain- and trauma-free life. It is criminal to wantonly cause another creature pain – whether domestic or wild. To bring about change in this area, we must stop seeing animals as mere tools, property, and profit, but as creatures who suffer and feel pain the same as we do.

FARMED ANIMALS

The Green Party notes the enormous scale of animal suffering, environmental degradation, economic loss, and diminished human health posed by factory farms and the deceptively cheap, unhealthy animal products produced by them. The Green Party is therefore committed to making Canada a leader in humane, healthy farming, by phasing out factory farm systems in Canada in favour of traditional family farms, and bringing Canada up to European standards of farm animal care. We will accomplish this through the following measures:

Green Tax

Yesterday’s traditional family farm in Canada has virtually been eliminated by vertically integrated factory farms. These industrial scale animal agribusinesses compromise animal welfare, economies of rural communities, our environment and human health and wellbeing. Animals on factory farms are intensively confined for the duration of their lives, subjected to surgical mutilations without anesthetic, and provided substandard food and inadequate veterinary care. Waste produced by factory farms pollutes our groundwater, rivers and lakes. Monoculture crops to produce animal feed destroy wild animal habitat, often causing the endangerment of Canada’s wild species, and reducing topsoil levels. Properties near factory farms decrease in value, and local economies suffer as these vertically integrated operations provide little in the way of local employment. Moreover, the artificially low prices associated with mass production promote over-consumption of animal products in Canada. This combined with the hormones, pesticides and antibiotics contained in most factory farmed animal products compromises human health and raises our health care costs dramatically.

The Green Party of Canada will implement a green tax on animal products produced by factory farms. Following the tobacco model, the green tax would shift the burden of environmental cleanup and increased health care costs from the tax payer to the consumer. The Green Party will furthermore remove all government subsidies and tax incentives from industrial scale factory farming operations.

A green tax on factory farmed animal products, and elimination of government subsidies, will ensure prices of animal products reflect the true cost of their production. The appropriately higher costs of producing factory farmed animal products will create a level market for small farmers, allowing consumers to make choices that are better for their health and animal welfare. The higher costs of animal products will help decrease animal product consumption in Canada to rates seen prior to the introduction of factory farm systems. Animals, human health, and our environment will all benefit. Elimination of factory farming systems and a lower national animal product consumption will dramatically decrease the number of animals confined and slaughtered each year in Canada – currently in excess of 650 million.

Animals in Transport

Well over 650 million farm animals are transported to slaughter in Canada every year. According to Agriculture Canada, 3.5 million of them arrive dead or dying at federally inspected slaughterhouses across our country. Improved legislation and policing with the intent of reducing animal suffering is clearly necessary in this country. The Green Party of Canada will work to improve conditions for animals during transport by implementing legislation that incorporates the following measures:

  • Transport by road of animals destined for slaughter or further fattening to be limited to 8 hours or 500 km.
  • Fitness to travel must be more clearly defined and those animals in an advanced state of pregnancy and unable to walk without assistance will be considered “unfit”. Animals which are not fit to travel can only be transported under veterinary license and for purposes of veterinary treatment.
  • Solipeds should only be transported in individual compartments on single deck trucks.
  • Adequate protection from the elements must be mandatory at all times, e.g., pigs should only be transported in trucks with sprinkler systems during the summer.
  • All vehicles must allow adequate inspection of each of the animals at all times.
  • All drivers of livestock vehicles must receive training and have their competence independently assessed.
  • The use of electric prods, clubs and other inappropriate weapons should be banned.
  • The number of CFIA inspectors with responsibility for monitoring the implementation of transport legislation must be increased substantially.
  • All transports of animals for breeding, exhibition etc. which are longer than 8 hours should be in “special” vehicles, which will possess a forced ventilation system or air-conditioning.
    Animals transported for longer than eight hours must be given sufficient space to lie down – all at the same time.
  • An official veterinarian must be present during loading and unloading for journeys of longer than eight hours in order to ensure that all the animals are fit for travel and that the stocking density is correct.
    *En route euthanasia by a licensed veterinarian of animals that become sick or injured during transport is to be permitted.
  • A ban on live animal exports from Canada.

Animal transport time limits will decrease fossil fuel consumption, promote local businesses, create additional employment, dramatically reduce suffering of millions of farmed animals annually, and bring Canada up to European standards for farmed animal welfare.

Animals on Farms

The animal agribusiness industry raises over 650 million animals each year in Canada, mostly in intensive confinement systems. Animal welfare legislation in this area is inconsistent, predominantly provincially based and very rarely scrutinized or enforced. The Green Party of Canada will work to improve conditions for animals on farms by promoting legislation that incorporates the following measures:

  • The phase-out of the most deplorable confinement systems including: gestation and farrowing sow crates, veal crates, battery laying hen cages, permanent chaining of dairy cows
  • A ban on surgical mutilations including tail docking, castration, debeaking, detoeing, branding, teeth clipping, dehorning.
  • A ban on the use of animal products in feed for ruminants (including flesh and other products from pigs and horses, which are currently legal in Canada)
    A ban on the use of subtherapeutic antibiotics and growth promotants in farmed animals
  • Minimum animal care standards should be implemented that incorporate and improve upon the existing voluntary codes of practice, as well as demonstrating a clear understanding of the biological needs of the individual animals.
  • All “downed” animals to be euthanised on-farm by licensed veterinarians.
  • The creation of specialised farm animal welfare inspectors.
  • The use of electric prods, clubs and other inappropriate weapons should be banned.

Animal suffering on an enormous scale will be reduced. The safety of the food supply system will be enhanced, employment will be increased, and Canada will become a world leader in humane farming.

Animals in Slaughterhouses

Slaughter is the most brutal part of a farm animal's life. As such, the Green Party is committed to minimizing the pain and suffering of animals through the use of proper approved methods to move, stun and bleed animals. The principal threats to animal welfare during slaughter are inadequate stunning methods and inappropriate animal handling techniques. These issues are covered by federal law, but excess throughput speeds, unmotivated and untrained staff and lack of conscientious government oversight often nullify the intent of the legislation. The Green Party of Canada will work to improve conditions for animals in slaughterhouses by advocating the following:

  • Meat packers should use amperage, voltage, frequency and pneumatic settings on stunning equipment which will reliably induce unconsciousness.
  • Maintenance of stunning equipment, restraint systems, gates and other animal handling equipment must be ongoing.
  • The number of CFIA inspectors with responsibility for monitoring the implementation of slaughter legislation must be increased substantially.
  • All slaughterhouse employees must receive training and have their competence independently assessed.
  • The use of electric prods, clubs and other inappropriate weapons should be banned.
  • An official veterinarian must be present during unloading.
  • All downers must be euthanized on the truck prior to being moved.
  • Electric and captive bolt stunning to bleed intervals must be based on science derived parameters and must be respected at all times.

Animal suffering on an enormous scale will be reduced. The safety of the food supply system will be enhanced. Employment will be increased.

Animals in Auctions

There are extensive, endemic problems at all levels of government and industry when it comes to the welfare of animals at auctions. Efforts to adhere to or administer relevant legislation are token at best. The Green Party of Canada will work to improve conditions for animals at auctions by improving legislation and policing that incorporates the following measures:

  • Water and food must be made available to all animals at all times.
  • An animal should not be allowed to spend more than 24 hours at an auction.
  • The use of electric prods, clubs and other inappropriate weapons should be banned.
  • All animals should be provided with sufficient protection from the elements
  • Unloading, loading and inspection should be carried out with a veterinarian present.
  • Sufficient and proper segregation of animals must be based on size and species.
  • All auction employees must receive training and have their competence independently assessed.
  • The budget of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will be increased appropriately to allow for more and better trained inspectors to verify adherence to regulations.

Animal suffering on an enormous scale will be reduced. Canada will become a leader in humane treatment of farmed animals.

ANIMALS IN ENTERTAINMENT

Wild, often endangered species and domestic animals that are used in entertainment are denied freedom, social interaction and the ability to express their natural behaviours. Negative reinforcement is used to train performing animals, including beating, shocking, chaining, and denial of food. Inadequate food and veterinary care, intensive confinement and constant travel increase the suffering of animals in entertainment. The Green Party of Canada will:

  • Following the example of Sweden, Austria, Costa Rica, India, Finland and Singapore as well as over thirty Canadian municipalities, prohibit the use of wild animals in circuses, novelty acts, traveling shows and other temporary spectacles.
    *Prohibit all rodeo events, animal shows and presentations that involve injuring, baiting, fighting, intimidation, harassment, causing fear and/or other negative actions that are potentially harmful to the animals involved.
  • Prohibit spectacles that involve the fighting and baiting of animals, including bullfights, cock fights, dog fights, and rodeos.
    Establish a national law that require all zoos to be licensed; to operate at a professional standard; be subject to strict animal welfare and public safety regulations; and regular reviews and inspections.
  • Prohibit the importation of marine mammals for public display in zoos, marine parks and aquariums.
  • Prohibit the importation of wild animals for public display and entertainment purposes.
  • Prohibit the captive breeding of animals in zoos and marine parks.
  • Establish strict animal welfare and public safety regulations for the use of wild animals in film and television productions.
  • Establish retirement/sanctuary facilities for wild animals seized by federal, provincial and municipal law enforcement agencies.

According to elephant trainers Alan Roocroft and Donald Atwell Zoll in their book Managing Elephants, an Introduction to their Training and Management, approximately 100 deaths have occurred in circuses and zoos since 1980 due to elephant attacks, while another 50 or so injury causing incidents occur annually in North America. Additionally, many captive elephants that travel in circuses in North America have contracted a human strain of tuberculosis, and may be contagious at any time – thus putting the public at risk. Children who view captive animals in circuses, zoos and marine parks learn little of the animals’ natural behaviours and environments. Instead, they are taught to laugh at the suffering of these intensively confined, wild species. For human health, safety and ethical reasons, more than 30 Canadian municipalities and six countries have chosen to prohibit circuses that use animals. With IMAX and other technologies, children now have many alternative ways in which to view animals in their natural habitats – without harming the animals.

ANIMALS IN RESEARCH, TESTING AND EDUCATION

The Green Party of Canada considers the harmful use of animals in scientific experiments as contrary to the health of Canadians and the moral fabric of our society, and is therefore committed to the reduction and ultimate replacement of animal use for research, testing, and educational purposes. In line with this objective, the Green Party of Canada will:

  • Make the use of animals for research, testing and educational purposes unlawful where a non-animal method or approach is reasonably or practicably available (consistent with EU Directive 86/609).
  • Establish a coordinated federal government approach to identifying potential alternatives to replace or reduce the use of animals for testing and research, and commit to a substantial investment of monetary and human resources for the development and validation of non-animal test methods and testing strategies, in coordination with parallel efforts in Europe and elsewhere.
  • Ensure the automatic regulatory acceptance of every non-animal test method deemed scientifically valid by the European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) and the automatic deletion/prohibition of the animal-based test method it replaces.
  • Ensure that all new or revised animal and non-animal toxicity test methods are scientifically validated before their use is required, recommended or encouraged by regulatory authorities.
    *Enhance the current system of oversight consisting of voluntary guidelines and peer review administered by the Canadian Council on Animal Care a federally regulated licensing program, whereby prospective animal users must apply to a federal Animal & Alternatives Research Review Board, which will be responsible for (i) evaluating the costs and benefits of the proposed research, (ii) rigorously assessing the availability of non-animal methods or approaches, (iii) granting or denying a project license, and (iv) where a license is granted, monitoring compliance with animal care standards.
  • Improve government and industry accountability and public access to information regarding the use of animals for research, testing and educational purposes in Canada.

The Green Party of Canada is further committed to ending the most egregious forms of animal use as follows:

Research

  • The mandatory surrender of dogs and cats from municipal pounds and animal shelters (known as “pound seizure”)
  • All use of non-human primates
  • Genetic manipulation and cloning
  • Invasive psychological and behavioural research
  • Substance abuse research
  • Warfare research

Testing

  • The use of animals to assess the safety of personal care and household cleaning products, as defined by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics, while ensuring Canadian compatibility with the provisions of the European Union’s ban on the testing of cosmetics on animals.
  • Animal-based tests for skin corrosion, skin irritation, skin absorption, phototoxicity, pyrogenicity, genetic toxicity, to be replaced by non-animal methods that have been scientifically validated and/or accepted in other countries.
  • “Lethal dose” toxicity studies (including all acute LD50 and LC50 studies), in which animals are literally poisoned to death.

Education

  • Dissection and other animal-based labs in primary, secondary and undergraduate/college education
  • Use of animals in science fairs
  • University dog labs

WILDLIFE

The Green Party of Canada recognizes Canada’s wild animal populations face increasing environmental threats including habitat destruction and climate change. Commercial and recreational hunting and trapping, as well as deliberate population culls add to these challenges. Animal populations and the individual animals that make up those populations are both affected adversely.

Canadians are redefining their use of nature. Non-consumptive enjoyment of wildlife and wilderness spaces, including bird watching, whale watching, hiking and camping now contribute far more economically to our country than consumptive use. Commercial trade in wild animal parts is increasingly frowned upon by governments and the public as the impacts on populations and individual animals are made clear.

A survey on the importance of nature to Canadians conducted by Environment Canada underscores the importance of non-consumptive uses of wildlife (such as camping, hiking, wildlife viewing) to our economy and to our citizens.

In recognition of the tremendous value of wildlife to the wellbeing of Canadians, the Green Party of Canada will take steps to protect wild animals and their habitats as follows:

Trophy Hunting

The Green Party of Canada will prohibit all hunting of wild or domestic animals on federal lands for “trophies”. The Green Party of Canada does not oppose subsistence hunting of wild animals.

An estimated 1000 people are accidentally shot by hunters in North America every year. In the course of hunting wild animals for trophies, dependent offspring are often orphaned, and individual animals suffer injuries and often slow, agonizing deaths at the hands of hunters. Killing wild animals for trophies compromises human dignity.

Commercial Trade in Wild Animal Parts

Since European settlers arrived in Canada, commercial trade in animal parts has led to substantial population declines and often extinction of wild species. History has clearly shown us that when a price is put on a wild animal’s head, management is often impossible. Political pressure results in reckless quota increases, while black market trade is almost impossible to regulate. Additionally, wild animals in Canada face numerous environmental threats including habitat destruction and climate change. The Green Party of Canada will:

  • Prohibit any industry involving single organ trade
  • Remove federal subsidies from the fur and sealing industries
  • Increase monitoring and enforcement budgets
  • Work with traditional medicine practitioners to promote alternatives to wild animal ingredients
  • Endangered Species Legislation

The Canadian government has implemented substandard endangered species legislation – the Species At Risk Act - which allows politicians to decide which species receive federal protection, and does little to protect critical animal habitat.

Habitat loss is the number one cause of species loss and decline both in Canada and globally. But lack of mandatory habitat protection is a fundamental flaw of SARA. SARA currently calls for protection of critical habitat only on federal lands (currently less than 5 percent of Canada’s land mass). SARA does authorize the minister to intervene where provinces do not provide adequate protection. However, leaving this to the discretion of the Minister allows for political pressure from provinces to prevent action. Moreover, SARA does not require mandatory habitat to commence, even on federal lands, until the critical habitat has been identified in a recovery strategy or action plan (a process that can take two years or more from the time of listing).

Moreover, under the current legislation, species recommended for inclusion in the national list of species at risk prepared by the Council on the Status of Wildlife in Canada may be rejected by Cabinet. This allows for political interference in the protection of endangered species in Canada. The Green Party will:

  • ensure the scientific listing process remains intact and that only COSEWIC has the power to list or delist species at risk
  • require the federal government to intervene in any circumstance where a province does not adequately protect critical habitat
  • provide interim protection for species at risk between listing and identification in a recovery strategy or action plan

Culling of Wild Animals

Culling is occasionally used by the federal government to reduce wild populations such as seals and migratory birds. Culling of wild animal populations is generally driven by political rather than scientific motives, and is not supported as a management tool by the vast majority of conservation organizations around the world. Human beings have little understanding of the ways in which species interact, and consequently culling of wild animal populations can often have negative impacts on non-target species and their ecosystems. The Green Party will prohibit the culling of wild animals as a management tool, and will support programs that help humans peacefully coexist with wild species (such as non-lethal aversive conditioning).

Consultation

The Green Party of Canada will mandate policy makers in Natural Resources departments to emphasize consultation with parties who advocate non-consumptive use of wildlife.

COMPANION ANIMALS

Municipal Animal Control Programs

In recognition of the majority of Canadians who live with companion animals, the special place those animals hold in our society, the millions of unwanted animals euthanized each year in shelters across the country, and the inability of low income Canadians to afford expensive veterinary procedures, the Green Party of Canada will develop municipally managed animal control programs parallel to the one implemented by the City of Calgary, which has virtually eliminated euthanasia of unwanted animals and dramatically increased rates of return of companion animals in a cost effective way that is largely funded out of licensing. As with Calgary, this program will include an aggressive licensing and micro-chipping program for animals, subsidized spay/neuter/emergency vet care for those in financial need, and funding for cruelty investigations.

Income from licenses provides almost all funding required for program and dramatically increases rates of return of lost animals. Euthanasia rates from lack of shelter space or homes is virtually eliminated. Veterinary care, including spay and neuter is provided at low or no cost to those who demonstrate financial need.

Commercial Breeding Moratorium

More than 350,000 unwanted companion animals are killed each year in Quebec alone. Hundreds of thousands of other animals are euthanized in shelters each year across the country. At the same time, commercial breeders continue to produce vast number of domestic animals for the pet trade.

The Green Party of Canada will restrict breeding of companion animals while surpluses of unwanted companion animals exist in shelters across the country. The Green Party will immediately ban puppy mills and backyard breeders.

By restricting commercial breeding of companion animals, the public will be encouraged to provide homes for animals in shelters. As has been put into practice in some areas of Ontario, pet stores could house shelter animals for sale in the interim.

EXOTIC PETS

Exotic, often endangered animals are bred in captivity or captured in the wild for the exotic pet trade in Canada. These non-domestic animals often pose a danger to human health and safety through unpredictable aggression and disease transmission. Many wild captured exotic animals die from the trauma posed by transport to Canada, others from neglect and inadequate care at the hands of uninformed people. Individual exotic animals suffer tremendously as they are denied their natural habitats and interaction with their own species.

In recognition of the danger to human health and safety posed by the exotic pet trade, and the inherent suffering of these exotic, often wild species that are captured or bred for these purposes, the Green Party of Canada will prohibit the breeding and import of, and trade in exotic animals for the pet trade.

Animal suffering will be greatly reduced, and the dangers to human health and safety removed. People will respect the needs of wild, often exotic creatures to live in their natural habitats and express natural behaviors.

Cosmetic Surgical Mutilations

Each year, thousands of animals in Canada are subjected to frivolous cosmetic surgical alterations that cause them needless pain and suffering. Veterinarians often reluctantly continue to offer these procedures to their customers despite the clear evidence that they can seriously compromise animal welfare. The Green Party of Canada will prohibit cosmetic physical mutilations including declawing, devocalizing, tail docking, and ear cropping on animal welfare grounds.

Needless animal suffering will be eliminated.

ANIMALS IN OUR SOCIETY

Parliamentary Committee on Animal Welfare

The Green Party of Canada will establish a Parliamentary Committee on Animal Welfare tasked with examining legislation affecting animal concerns and dealing with animal welfare community.

Despite the importance animals hold for Canadians, and the amount of proposed legislation that deals with animal issues as a result, there is currently no specialist group in Parliament to deal with animal welfare concerns. A committee of this nature would create a place in Parliament where relevant animal welfare issues could be properly researched and debated, and recommendations made as required.

National Animal Welfare Legislation

The animal welfare laws contained in Canada’s Criminal Code have not been updated since 1892. Crimes against animals are housed in the property section of the Code, and provide almost no protection from even the worst kinds of abuse. In Quebec, where there is no provincial animal welfare act, these outdated laws are the only ones that can be used by citizens to protect animals. Polling conducted over the past years shows clearly that the majority of Canadians want to see stronger laws for animals in our Criminal Code.

The Green Party of Canada will update Canada’s criminal code as it pertains to animal welfare, moving crimes against animals from the property section, and recognizing animals as sentient beings. The Criminal Code legislation will provide no exemptions for people who are involved in criminal activities, and will mandate progressively stiffer penalties that take into account the severity of the crime.

The Green Party will furthermore invest resources in the development and training of police officers to deal with cruelty cases. In addition, every peace officer who holds that status will have the ability to write and investigate and prosecute every cruelty case.

Canadians have asked for improved federal animal protection legislation for more than two decades. Many people who commit violent crimes against people start their criminal behaviour with animals. By identifying those violent offenders early on, we can help to prevent crimes against people. Moreover, harsher penalties, including a lifetime ban on animal ownership for those convicted of the worst offenses, will help to discourage cruel treatment of animals.


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