Canada’s federal election of 2019 is over and thankfully, we have elected a minority government. I say, “thankfully” as with a minority government we might be able to get bills of significance that better protect animals passed in the years ahead.
And, I want to thank all of you for your support during the campaign period, and for your interest in electing the best government for animals and the environment.
We received a large number of calls, messages, and emails during this election from people across Canada who were including animals in their decision making. This is deeply encouraging. For years we have been urging people who care about animals to engage more vigorously in political action. It’s governments that set the policies and laws that govern how animals are protected. It’s also government that pass the laws that allow animals to be exploited and harmed. More Canadians than ever before are understanding that to protect animals we need to engage with governments. The animal-using industries understand this, and now, more animal advocates are understanding this too.
I also want to thank everyone who supported the political party we formed more than a decade ago, the Animal Protection Party of Canada (APPC). Many of you gave your vote to an animal advocate-candidate, knowing that they would not win a seat in government. But your vote sent a message that there is political support for a party for animals. Your vote, donation, and support also helped to encourage and empower the brave candidates who stood for this party while knowing that they were exposing themselves to the sometimes-harsh public spotlight. It takes a lot of courage and commitment to stand as a candidate for a small party like the APPC and we are so grateful to all of the fine candidates who have run, past and present.
And, what fine candidates stood for this party! The APPC ran a slate of 17 candidates from regions across the country. The candidates were of such high quality that many of them would have been viable candidates for mainstream parties. But they chose to run, without hope of being elected, for a party that declares that animals matter and their protection is our national responsibility. They also stood for progressive and bold policies that would better protect vulnerable humans and the environment.
What did this election achieve?
Canada’s Food Guide:
One of the achievements of the previous government was the creation of a new Canada Food Guide that was not influenced by lobbyists from businesses like dairy, meat and fruit juice manufacturers. Past food guides did take into account the financial interests of agri-businesses. But this is not the role of a national nutritional guide. The new Food Guide is a big step forward as it no longer highlights certain foods to promote financial interests, but is based on the most current research about human health and nutrition. It no longer specifically promotes animal proteins nor does it discourage their use. It includes animal protein foods in a category along with plant-based protein foods, a fairer designation. But one party that has strongly supported the diary industry clearly stated they would re-open the Food Guide, and another expressed concern that dairy was no longer specifically promoted. With the re-election of the government that passed the new Food Guide, including the Member of Parliament (MP) who over-saw its development, it is likely safe from interference from agri-business lobbyists.
Animal Transport Regulations:
In 2020, new transport regulations for farmed animals being transported to slaughter will come into affect. These new regulations are only a minimal improvement, but are better, none the less. The new regulations still allow for cattle to be transported for up to 36 hours without food, water, and rest. Note that food and water are also withheld prior to loading. The distress and discomfort of being transported before entering the misery of a slaughter facility is increased by a lengthy period of hunger and dehydration. As animal advocates we regret that the new regulations are not more in keeping with those of more progressive nations. The consultation process took more than 20 years of effort and political action to get even these small gains. Yet, one party promised to pause the process to re-open the consultation process which was unlikely to bode well for animals. With the re-election of the party that passed the new regulations it’s more likely that these gains will not be lost.
Captivity of Cetaceans:
The Ending Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act was heavily opposed by Senators and some MPs of an opposition party. If that party had formed government it’s possible that this new legislation could have been over-turned. Now, it’s more likely that this legislation is safe.
Work that’s ahead of us
Again, strategic voting was a factor in this election. This is inevitable under a “first-past-the-post” electoral system. During this campaign we heard the message that voters were not going to ‘vote their hearts and conscience’ but would vote for the party most likely to keep out a party that they disliked. Parties dedicated to animal rights and protection have been elected in nations that use one of the forms of Proportional Representation (PR). If we are ever going to achieve meaningful change for animals and the environment, we need Proportional Representation. Two of the opposition parties are strong proponents of PR. Working together, we may be able to achieve this at last.
A Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act:
The previous attempt to pass a Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act spanned two terms of government. The bill originated as a private members bill in the Senate. In spite of years of work, it was consistently interfered with by industry lobbyists, as is expected. Unfortunately, the bill managed to pass in the Senate but did not receive the support it needed from MPs. Amendments that would have rendered the bill meaningless, and even harmful, were being considered in Parliament. When the bill was allowed to die on the order table, we considered this a better outcome than passing a bill that included the destructive amendments. This issue will need to be re-introduced and we expect another hard-fought campaign against those who are willing to profit from the torment of animals in research labs. This is unfinished business that we are ready to take on again, with your help and support.
Updates to the Criminal Code regarding Cruelty to Animals:
Another piece of unfinished business is the defeat of Bill C-246, the Modernizing Animal Protections Act. The MP who sponsored the bill has thankfully been re-elected. The opposition party that most supported the bill now has more influence under this minority government. Will we have another opportunity to finally update our federal laws to include all animals in every region in Canada? Time will tell, but you surely know that I and our organization will fight as hard as we can to make that happen.
The Federal Election
During the 2019 Federal Election, Animal Alliance of Canada shared news articles and party platform positions that we believed were of grave concern. Even this approach was considered to be overly partisan by some who follow us on social media, but when animals are at risk due the ideas and policies promoted by politicians, we are honour-bound to raise the alarm.
We urged all of you who care about animals to engage in your own research, and to talk with candidates in your local riding. This process helps you to get an idea of how open those individuals are to animal protection. And, even more importantly, it lets candidates from all the parties begin to understand that there are voters who care about animals for their own sakes, and not as a resource and source of profit. And, thankfully, many of you did just that. We heard from more of you than ever that you were engaging with candidates and helping to make animal rights and protection a political issue.
Acting ‘while the iron is hot’
In the days ahead, I urge you to take a few minutes and write or email a letter of welcome to your newly elected local MP. (If you need help figuring out who that is, just call or email me: 416-462-9541 / email@example.com)
Let them know that you are their constituent and that better animal protection legislation is of critical importance to you. A short, polite communication at this time can help them to understand that their riding is not just made up of businesses that profit from using animals. We can let them know that animal protection is an important political issue and one they must consider.
Together, we can look forward to renewed hope under a minority government. We made some gains in the recent past and we will all fight hard for more.
Please accept my personal thanks for the political actions that so many of you took during this election campaign.
And, thanks, as always, for your donations, support and good will. Thanks most of all for caring about animals and for never forsaking them.