The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Quebec to amend Civil Code to better protect animals from abuse

  • Print

QUEBEC - Quebec's new agriculture minister is promising to clean up the province's bad reputation as one of the best places to be an animal abuser.

Pierre Paradis says new legislation is in the works that will redefine the status of an animal in the province's Civil Code and improve its protection.

"I want to go as quickly as possible," Paradis told The Canadian Press. "It's among my legislative priorities."

Once the Civil Code is amended, cats, dogs and other animals will no longer be considered as "personal property" but as living, "sentient" creatures. That is a formula that has already been adopted by several European countries.

He said he has reached an agreement in principle with Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee that would give critters more status before the courts than inanimate property such as a chair or table.

"We were inspired by what was done in France, where they redefined the concept of the animal as a being that is capable of feeling pain," Paradis said. "We're looking into the judicial consequences of that but we don't want it (the animal) to remain personal property."

The change in status means the courts will consider pain and suffering when imposing penalties or fines on abusers.

While recognizing the sentient nature of an animal will not give it the same type of rights as for humans, it will increase the obligations on owners and breeders toward their charges.

Paradis noted that there is a demand for better treatment of animals and it has already been heard in Europe.

"We're seeing how things are evolving in Europe on agricultural farms — there are larger cages for pigs and more space for chickens. If you're not part of this movement, you're going to be excluded."

Indeed, the commercial impetus for laws protecting animals is as key as the humanitarian one.

Paradis noted competitors could squeeze Quebec out of the market if it doesn't treat its animals better.

"We're right in the middle of a free-trade deal with Europe and we will be affected if we do not adjust," he said.

The Agriculture Department is responsible for carrying out inspections and Paradis said the tight financial situation prevents adding resources. The department's 250 inspectors are charged with ensuring the quality of food and agricultural infrastructure as well as the well-being of animals.

Paradis has not been idle in the meantime when it comes to animal rights.

In June, he announced the establishment of a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week tipline where people could report animal abuse.

The initiative has drawn praise from Quebec's Order of Veterinarians.

Quebec has a long way to go in its fight to protect its four-footed residents.

The province has long been criticized for being home to miserable puppy mills. Mistreated calves were discovered recently on a farm in Pont-Rouge.

The San Francisco-based Animal Legal Defense Fund also recently put Quebec among the best places to be an animal abuser.

The province and Nunavut were cited in the June 16 statement as having the worst animal protection laws in Canada. Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia and Nova Scotia were credited with having the best laws.

It was not the first year Quebec has been singled out.

"Gandhi said the evolution of a society can be judged in the way it treats its animals," said Paradis. "There's room for evolution here."

Quebec's intentions are drawing some praise.

Martine Lachance, director of a research group in animal law at the Universite du Quebec a Montreal, welcomed the idea of abandoning the notion of animals as "property."

"We're telling people, 'you can no longer treat animals as inert, property with no emotions'," she said. "This will force people to be aware, it will force the courts to act. There will be change, that's for sure."

Once the Civil Code has been updated, "Quebec judges will have no choice, in my opinion, to be a bit more coercive," she said.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Preview: Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS June 23, 2011 Local - A Monarch butterfly is perched on a flower  in the newly opened Butterfly Garden in Assiniboine Park Thursday morning.
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think e-cigarettes should be banned by the school division?

View Results

Ads by Google