Election campaigns are often our best opportunities to get the attention of politicians. When it comes to better laws to protect all animals, there is no mainstream party that has a platform that adequately addresses our concerns. But that does not mean that there are no individual candidates who are sympathetic to our cause.
Let’s keep in mind that in order to get elected, candidates need to reach the broadest group of voters so might be concerned about stating too clearly where they stand on animal-related matters. Nevertheless, asking questions about animal-related issues during election campaigns reminds politicians that people who care deeply about animals are voters too.
If you support a particular political party, regardless which one, then you are in a good position to promote better animal protection to your party’s candidates and leader. You can urge the party you support to include animal issues in their policies.
To help with these discussions we have compiled a short list of questions with explanatory preambles to help with conversations with candidates. We have not included every individual topic but have chosen ones that will affect the broadest range of key issues. Of course, you might have a special concern that you want to bring up when meeting candidates. And, the commitments we are requesting are reasonable and achievable.
Please attend candidate debates and town hall meetings. Try to ask your animal-related question, and keep in mind that the candidates might not have prior knowledge of the issue you are discussing. Our goal is not to put candidates on the spot or embarrass them, but to cause them to think about our issues and to understand that numerous Canadians care about the suffering of animals.Feel free to share the entire list of concerns with candidates.We hope you find these sample questions with their preambles helpful, and most of all, please vote. Vote for the party and candidate who you believe will be most open to hearing from you in the next four years. Elected representatives with open hearts and minds are often all that’s needed to make significant progress.
Elections are important opportunities to let candidates know that a just relationship with animals matters to us.
Here are some questions and preambles that can help us have meaningful dialogue with candidates at our doors, and during public debates and town hall meetings.
A general question with preamble to use in all situations:
The way we treat animals matters to me, so my vote depends on which party is most likely to legislate meaningful protection for all animals.
Will you commit to improving the protection of all animals through better laws, policies, and enforcement?
Questions and statements related to various issues. Choose which topic is of greatest interest to you:
Cosmetics Testing on Animals:
The Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act was a bill to ban cosmetics testing on animals. But industry lobbyists wanted a loop hole inserted that would have rendered the bill meaningless, and the bill died on the order table.
Will you commit to passing a bill that will ensure that chemicals tested on animals anywhere in the world will not be used in cosmetics in Canada?
Animal Protection Laws:
Canada’s Criminal Code needs to be updated to provide meaningful protection to all species of animals, including those used for food and in research. We need to recognize that animals are not just objects, but are ‘sentient beings’ – conscious, sensing beings who feel pain, fear, and distress.
Will you commit to moving animals out of the property section of the Criminal Code and create a new section in the Code that recognizes them as sentient beings.?
Facilitating Legal Protections for Animals:
Canada’s Criminal Code regarding crimes against animals does not adequately cover suffering inflicted on animals due to neglect. This is contrary to the way the Criminal Code protects humans, where it’s understood that we can be held accountable for harms done to humans, even if those harms are the result of neglect as opposed to a wilful desire to inflict harm.
Will you support legislation to update Canada’s Criminal Code to recognize that those who harm animals through neglect must be held accountable too?
Canada’s Food Guide:
Canada’s new food guide reflects a modern understanding of nutrition, and thankfully, industry lobbyists were prevented from influencing our new guide. Dairy and meat are still included in a section titled ‘Protein Foods’, and are no longer highlighted. Some politicians say they want to turn back the clock to have dairy specifically promoted once again.
Will you commit to protecting the integrity of the new food guide by keeping commercial interests out of Canada’s food guide?
Use of fossil fuels dominates the discussion on climate change. But animal agriculture is also a driver of global warming.
Will you commit to building on the direction of the new food guide and promote reduced consumption of animal products to address climate change?
Electoral reform was promised by the current Prime Minister during the previous election campaign. Unfortunately, this promise was broken. Proportional Representation is used in several progressive nations that have stable governments and successful economies, and would allow a broader range of citizens to be represented more fairly.
Will you support one of the forms of Proportional Representation when the issue of electoral reform returns to Parliament?
Parliamentary Caucuses and Transparency:
Some political parties have special caucuses called Outdoor or Rural caucuses. They often consist of MPs or Senators who are particularly responsive to lobbying from animal-using industries, and they’ve been quite successful in keeping most animal protection laws weak. Special caucuses are allowed to keep their membership lists hidden from citizens, which makes it hard for us to know the intentions of our representatives.
Will you promote transparency by supporting ending the secrecy of these membership lists?