New Bill Would Make Significant Improvements to Animal Protection Laws in Canada

Modernizing Animal Protections Act receives backing from coalition of animal protection groups

TORONTO – Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith introduced Bill C-246, the Modernizing Animal Protections Act, to the applause of a coalition of leading Canadian animal protection groups at a press conference today in Toronto.

The Modernizing Animal Protections Act would make common sense improvements to the animal cruelty section of the Criminal Code. It will also prohibit the practice of shark finning in Canadian waters and ban the import of shark fins not attached to the carcass, would ban the sale of dog and cat fur, and require animal fur products be labeled with the country of origin and animal species. The coalition of animal protection organizations backing the bill is made up of: Animal Alliance of Canada, Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada, Animal Justice, Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals, Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, Humane Society International/Canada, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Montreal SPCA, and Zoocheck. The groups are joining with Mr. Erskine-Smith to release the following statements in support of the bill:

MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith stated: “Canadians are compassionate people who care about animals, and our laws should reflect our values. I am pleased to be working with the strongest animal protection organizations in the country to bring real change to our animal welfare laws.”

“Supporters of Animal Alliance and Animal Alliance Environment Voters are thrilled with the Private Members Bill tabled today by MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith. We are confident that this bill will receive all party support and begin to bring an end to animal suffering,” said Liz White, director, Animal Alliance of Canada.

“Canadians recently elected the most animal-friendly Parliament in history, with MPs and Senators from all parties who are deeply committed to improving legal protections for animals. Mr. Erskine-Smith’s private member’s bill marks an important first step on the path toward modernizing Canada’s animal protection laws and saving countless cats, dogs, and sharks from a brutal death,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice.

“The Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals supports MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith’s important initiative, Bill C-246 to strengthen Canada’s animal protection laws and to help put an end to cases of animal cruelty and neglect,” said Stephanie Brown, director, Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals.

“Humane Societies and SPCAs across Canada support modernizing the Criminal Code to better protect animals from cruelty. As organizations entrusted to enforce the law, our members deal with the devastating impact of the legal loopholes in the current legislation. It is imperative that we strengthen the Code to better protect animals from criminal acts of cruelty, and we call on Parliament for a swift passage of Bill C-246,” said Barbara Cartwright, chief executive officer, Canadian Federation of Humane Societies.
“For far too long, animals in Canada have lacked even the most basic federal protections. Humane Society International/Canada is proud to support Bill C-246, which would help save millions of animals from the worst kinds of cruelty and neglect,” said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of HSI/Canada.

“We know that Canadians want to see better protection for animals. Polling shows that 92 percent of us agree that the Criminal Code should be updated to make it easier to convict people who commit acts of cruelty to animals,” said Patricia Zaat, director, IFAW Canada. “We encourage all Members of Parliament to support this important and much-needed bill.”

“We are extremely pleased by the tabling of the Modernizing Animal Protections Act. As an organization tasked with applying the criminal code cruelty provisions, we know firsthand that the amendments proposed in this bill are desperately needed in order to ensure animals in Canada are adequately protected against cruelty and neglect,” said Me Alanna Devine, director of animal advocacy at the Montreal SPCA.

“We are pleased to support Nathaniel Erskine-Smith’s Bill C-246 aimed at addressing some of Canada’s long-standing animal welfare problems. We hope the bill receives the support of all parties and moves quickly to become law,” said Rob Laidlaw, executive director, Zoocheck.


  • Canada’s animal welfare laws have remained largely unchanged since 1892. Recent amendments have increased penalties but did not affect the substance of the offences.
  • Environics polling conducted in 2013 revealed 81 percent of Canadians support a ban on the trade in products of shark finning.
  • There are 17 Canadian municipalities that have banned the sale of shark fin products: Abbotsford, Brantford, Coquitlam, Duncan, City of Langley, Township of Langley, London, Maple Ridge, Mississauga, Nanaimo, Newmarket, New Westminster, North Vancouver, Oakville, Pickering, Pitt Meadows, Port Moody, and White Rock. In September 2012, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities passed a near-unanimous resolution calling on the federal government to ban the import of shark fins into Canada.
  • Sharks are apex predators whose survival affects all other marine species and entire ocean ecosystems.
  • In Canada, there are no labeling requirements for animal fur garments. Thus, it is entirely possible for cat and dog fur to be sold in this country, without anyone finding out. And while some fur is voluntarily labeled in Canada, this slaughter is so unconscionable that the industry has tried to obscure the truth with misleading labels. With rare exceptions, dog and cat products are not labeled as such.


For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director