By Vicki Van Linden
Director | Animal Alliance of Canada
Canada’s federal election of 2021 should count.
Let’s make it count for the environment and for animals.
The climate emergency is “Code Red for Humanity” according to the most recent United Nations report. “Code Red!”
Yet, the political parties currently represented in Parliament have been unwilling to admit that animal agriculture is a significant driver of climate change. That’s in spite of droughts, wildfires and other climate catastrophes that are increasing in intensity and frequency.
Let’s make some calls – Let’s change the conversation.
With just a few weeks left, Animal Alliance of Canada is urging everyone to phone your local candidates.
Let’s urge them to tell their leaders that the climate emergency (including the role of animal agriculture) needs to be front and centre in their party’s commitments – above the economy and even the pandemic – because the climate emergency impacts everything, the economy and human health included.
Tell them too that if their parties have not already committed to addressing Canada’s shamefully weak record on animal welfare and protection in their platforms, you expect them to correct that in the coming days. Action on the climate emergency must include efforts to reduce animal agriculture. Just as there are efforts to reduce use of fossil fuels, we need policies to phase out and reduce the numbers of animals used for food.
Some of the mainstream parties have included promises regarding animal welfare and protection in their platforms.
The Conservative Party of Canada: The federal Conservatives were the first to announce some commitments regarding animal welfare.
The Liberal Party of Canada: The federal Liberals included some promises in their platform, although they did not engage in a public announcement.
The Green Party of Canada: The federal Green Party’s platform includes initiatives that recognize animal agriculture is environmentally damaging and recommends supporting more plant-based food systems. Their platform also includes statements on more humane treatment of farmed animals. The party responded favourably to questions about animal protection in a survey conducted by World Animal Protection.
The New Democratic Party of Canada: We are unable to find promises for better protections of animals in the NDP platform. As well, their responses to the World Animal Protection survey are not encouraging. They make reference to sustainable farming practices yet seemingly ignore that meat and dairy farming are inherently bad for the environment. They refer to protection of the habitats of wild animals, species protection, and bio-diversity; but this seems to be related to protection of ecosystems. Of course this is critically important, but they do not address the protection of animals as a separate issue.
The Bloc Quebecois: The BQ stressed their sovereignty over industries within Quebec in the World Animal Protection survey. Instead of indicating a willingness to improve the treatment of farmed animals, they speak about protecting the management model they have chosen, presumably referring to supply management. They say: “farm animals’ biological needs must be considered and respected. The Bloc Québécois is committed to promoting organic and sustainable agriculture,” but as farming practices in Quebec are no more humane than in any other part of Canada those statements do not suggest a political sensitivity to the realities of animal agriculture, its effect on the environment and the suffering of animals.
The Animal Protection Party of Canada: The APPC has a full plan, their ‘Vision for the Future’, addressing all aspects of the needs of animals, regardless of species, and their appropriate relationship with our own species. The APPC fully recognizes the role animal agriculture plays as a driver of global heating, and has the most complete plan for sustainable agricultural systems and all aspects of environmental sustainability.
Party Leaders Have Time to Do Better
When parties fail to address animal protection, a topic of importance to so many Canadian voters, we should let them know. Let’s ask the candidates in our local ridings to urge their leaders to announce their own commitments to improve animal protection, if they have not already done so.
New announcements are often made throughout election campaigns. Thus far the mainstream parties have failed to make the link between animal agriculture and the climate emergency in their platforms. So, let’s influence them to finally address the need to provide greater support to plant-based agriculture instead of propping up animal-based farming.
We believe these three areas should be addressed by every party, as a bare minimum:
It’s best for farmers to transition out of animal agriculture and to adopt plant-based farming instead. Our federal government should direct subsidies to assisting with such phase-outs, not propping up unsustainable and polluting businesses. Cattle are already suffering the effects of drought, and feed crops are failing. Animal agriculture contributes at least a quarter of the green-house gases that are causing the climate emergency. In order to leave no one behind in tomorrow’s economy, we need to start supporting farmers right now to adopt plant-based agriculture to protect their businesses and the economic health of rural communities.
Farmers and their rural communities are not well-served by politicians who prop up animal agriculture to provide short-term support but do nothing to prepare farmers for the economy of the future.
2. A Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Bill:
There has already been extensive research and work done on this issue. Even industry representatives are now in agreement on critical aspects of such a bill. A Cruelty-Free Cosmetics bill should be introduced and passed within the first year of the new Parliament.
Note: Both the Conservatives and the Liberals have made mention of this. However, the Liberal Party of Canada has had ample opportunity to already introduce and pass such a bill during their time in government.
Advocates have already done extensive lobbying on these matters. It’s a national disgrace that the United States has banned the slaughter of horses, as slaughter is recognized as being exceptionally cruel for a sensitive species considered to be companions. Yet, to our shame, horses are being shipped from the United States to Canada to be slaughtered here.
Large draft horses are enduring shipment by air to Asian nations where their flesh is eaten as a raw food delicacy. The stress of air transport makes their suffering even greater. Both practices should be banned.
Note: The Liberal Party of Canada has promised to pass a ban on the live-export of horses for slaughter. Yet, they’ve had ample time to already do so, as there has been extensive advocacy on both horse-related matters.
The first initiative must be addressed by any party that claims to be serious about either climate change or the economy.
These three requests are reasonable and achievable. That’s why we chose them out of the myriad of initiatives that animals need and deserve. The first initiative is more sweeping in its scope, but is absolutely crucial for our own survival. It’s not too much to ask that politicians face the truth. They must acknowledge the role that animal agriculture plays as a driver of global warming.
Let’s use this election to achieve something of value. Let’s make those calls.
You can view the surveys conducted by World Animal Protection here:
Read the platform of the Animal Protection Party of Canada, ‘A Vision For The Future’:
Read the animal-related platform promises from the Conservative Party of Canada: https://cpcassets.conservative.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/25132033/5ea53c19b2e3597.pdf
Read the platform promises regarding: ‘Protection for Animals’ made by the Liberal Party of Canada: https://liberal.ca/our-platform/protecting-animals/?fbclid=IwAR1tx7yrPAwiGgUh6k9SOr1nCLRLxbl1xKlp1W_BfpB7JYwxywezES63r8U
Read the Green Party platform here: https://www.greenparty.ca/en/platform
To find all the candidates running in your riding, visit Elections Canada: