Criminal Code in Canada: Bill C-50 The new bill moves animals out of the property section of the Criminal Code, and provides tougher punishments for killing or harming an animal, or for failing to provide adequate care. On May 16, 2005, Justice Minister Irwin Cotler reintroduced animal cruelty legislation in the House of Commons which will amend the Criminal Code. The new legislation is known as Bill C- 50. Although this is the fifth time similar legislation has come before Parliament - on four previous occasions the legislation has died when elections were called. Bill C-22 - was resisted by the Senate. Justice Minister Cotler has taken steps to make the new bill "senate proof" and, the new proposed bill has been ammended with provisions such as the protection of traditional hunting and fishing practices of Aboriginal peoples. In a news conference, The Honourable Irwin Cotler stated that the new bill would remove animals from the property classification under the current criminal code and provide them "their own distinguishable section." The current maximum sentence of 6 months for intentional cruelty to animals would be increased to five years. Judges would be permitted to order restitution paid to the animal welfare organization involved in care and rehabilitation of the victims of animal cruelty. They would also have the ability to increase fines from $2,000, the current maximum for summary convictions, to $10,000 - with no limit on indictable offenses. Also, the current maximum 2 year restriction on animal ownership for those convicted of cruelty, would increase to allow judges to pass a maximum life-time ban for those convicted, against owning an animal. How Does Bill C-50 Differ from the current Criminal Code? moves animals out of the property section of the Code and into a new section created just for animal cruelty offences allows crimes of killing, harming or neglecting any species of animal to be charged as an indictable offence or punished by summary conviction. In the current Code, only crimes against cattle are considered an indictable offence carrying a maximum prison term of 5 years. Crimes against all other animals are currently punishable on the less serious offence of summary conviction, which carries a maximum prison term of 6 months. allows summary conviction offences for crimes of killing or harming animals to be punished by up to 18 months. The maximum sentence in the Criminal Code for summary conviction offences is normally six months. provides a maximum prison term of 5 years for offences charged as indictable offences for killing or harming animals, while indictable offences for neglect have a maximum of 2 years. allows up to a lifetime prohibition on future animal ownership and a minimum of five year prohibition for second or subsequent offences allows judges to order anyone convicted of cruelty to animals to pay restitution (for instance veterinary bills and shelter costs) to the animal welfare organization that cared for the animal(s) makes it an offence to brutally or viciously kill an animal makes fighting of all animals an offence, while the current Criminal Code only extends protection to cock fighting Bill S-24 Liberal Senator John Bryden introduced Private Senator’s Bill S-24 in February which is currently before the house of commons. Although this Bill is a step in the right direction, the problem lies in the context of the document. Bill S-24 contains the same wording of the current Criminal Code that was written in 1892, but with somewhat tougher penalties for animal cruelty. References remain to terms such as "willful neglect" which is an extremely difficult thing to prove. "Research has clearly shown that crimes against animals are too often linked to crimes against people," says Bob Van Tongerloo, CEO of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies. "By introducing such weak legislation as Bill S-24, Senator Bryden fails to recognize the link between animal cruelty and public safety, not to mention the simple fact that most Canadians believe that animal cruelty in and of itself is a serious crime and that the protection provided by the current law is insufficient." It is the goal of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies to prevent Bill S-24 from passing, the Bill which is currently before the Senate. This bill needs to be replaced with something that can make a difference. Bill C-50 is the answer. How to Help: The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and WSPA Canada are encouraging Canadians to write to Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, to express support of this legislation and to urge this Bill moved through the House and Senate as soon as possible. No stamp is required - Just write to: The Honourable Irwin Cotler Minister of Justice House of Commons Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6 Tel: 613-995-0121 Fax: 613-992-6762 Email: Cotler.I@parl.gc.ca A special thank-you to all those that take the time to write! We also urge you to contact your local MP and express your support of Bill C-50. Find your Local Member of Parliament Interested in learning more? Full text of the proposed bill can be accessed at the Canadian Parlimentary website: BILL C-50 - An Act to amend the Criminal Code (Cruelty to Animals) For more in-depth information, on Bill C-50 please read this legal analysis, prepared by lawyer Bob Gardiner, a former member of Candian Federation of Humane Societies' Board of Directors: Canadian Federation of Humane Societies Legal Analysis of Bill C-15 - Crimes Against Animals Our Combined Voices Can Make a Difference! Please take the time to show your support of this legislation.