Animal law | More protected farm animals?

The Government of Quebec will add 40 species of wild animals to the list of those covered by the Animal welfare and safety law, according to a statement released on September 23. The goal? Extend this law to all animals. Animal rights experts question the effectiveness of such a change to protect these animals.

Posted on October 8, 2021

Chloe Bourquin

Chloe Bourquin
The press

a little context


PHOTO MARTIN BUREAU, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE ARCHIVES

arctic fox

The Animal welfare and safety law was implemented in 2015 by the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ). Initially, it aimed to protect all domestic animals – such as pets (cat, dog, rabbit) and animals raised for agriculture (ox, pig, chicken) – as well as certain wild animals raised for their fur (red fox, American mink) . The new species added to this list are wild animals bred for their meat (fish, big game, farm bird), their honey (bee) or their fur (Arctic fox). These animals were until now mostly under the responsibility of the Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks.


PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, LA PRESE ARCHIVES

A bee is pollinating a flower.

Wild animals bred in numbers

Every year in Quebec they are slaughtered…


PHOTO TOM GILBERT, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Buffalo

7404 big game (boar, deer, moose, bison)
3.2 million ducks and geese
656,346 other farm birds (painted, quail, ostrich, rhea, pheasant)
1145 tons freshwater fish (arctic coal, trout, rainbow trout)
Sources: 2016 and 2018, Government of Quebec and MAPAQ


PHOTO EDOUARD PLANTE-FRÉCHETTE, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

André Lamontagne, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of Quebec

We recognize that animals are sentient beings with biological imperatives and that it is essential to collectively ensure their safety and well-being throughout their lives. Quebec is now a pioneer in this area, and I am proud that Quebecers are actively involved in the welfare and safety of all animals in our Quebec agri-food sector.

André Lamontagne, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of Quebec, in a press release

The Wolf in the Sheep


PHOTO CHUCK HOMLER

american mink

This law in particular details many obligations: care, access to water and food, cleanliness and space for the animal to move around. It also states that no one can cause suffering to an animal (pain, anxiety, suffering). However, these obligations include several exceptions: they do not apply, in particular, to animals raised for agriculture. For the latter, the vast majority of living conditions are dictated by industry; the law offers them only minor protection, for example during transport. Will wild farmed animals therefore be considered agricultural animals, thus obtaining only partial protection from the law? American mink and foxes, included in the original 2015 law, give a first hint of the answer.

There are wild animals that [déjà] incorporated into the law, like the mink of America. […] But insofar as they are bred for their skin, they are agricultural animals, and therefore we take from them with our left hand what we have just given them with our right hand.

Mand Alain Roy, professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Montreal

This statement could simply be smoke and mirrors in the public eye: we recognize that animals are sentient beings, that they have biological imperatives, that we must protect them, but at the same time they will be excluded by this exception that already exists in the act.

Mand Sarah-Isabelle Avril, Candidate for a Master of Laws at the University of Sherbrooke


PHOTO BY RÉMI LEMÉE, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

deer breeding

The exact content of the new regulation by which these 40 species will be added to the law has not yet been published, however, it is too early to say. But according to Mand Roy, we must rethink the general scope of this law to more effectively protect farm animals, wild or domestic.

[La Loi sur le bien-être et la sécurité de l’animal] it is a step forward, but it is not absolutely satisfactory or sufficient. We’re going to have to go much further, and I think people are more and more aware of that.

Mand Alain Roy, professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Montreal

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