This motion was seconded by Liberal Deputy House Leader Marlene Jennings
The House of Commons adopted a motion calling on the federal government to support in principle, the development of a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW). This motion, tabled by Liberal MP Michelle Simson, and seconded by Liberal Deputy House Leader Marlene Jennings, plays a pivotal role in recognizing the issue of animal welfare both within Canada and internationally.
Parliament Adopts Animal Welfare Motion
“This declaration is an agreement among people and nations to recognize that animals are sentient, suffer, have welfare needs, and to ultimately end animal cruelty worldwide,” said Mrs. Simson. “Thousands of Canadians have signed petitions in support of a UDAW and this declaration is actively supported by Canada's foremost animal protection organizations.”
The adoption of motion in support of the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare prompts a moral obligation on the government to take steps to ensure that animals are protected. The motion not only calls upon the government to support the declaration at all relevant international organizations and forums, but also serves as recognition of the need for Canada to develop effective animal welfare laws domestically. “Our Criminal Code provisions that deal with cruelty to animals need to be modernized,” said Mrs. Jennings. “Adopting this motion, I believe, will help further stimulate debate and interest into the whole issue of how we protect our animals both here in Canada and outside of Canada.”
The idea of supporting the UDAW was initially brought forward by MP Marlene Jennings, after becoming involved in several campaigns aimed at both strengthening Canada’s animal cruelty laws while ensuring that Canada becomes a world leader in animal welfare protection. Mrs. Simson, also a strong advocate of protecting animal welfare, agreed to table the motion after receiving significant support from a number of petitioners, Members of Parliament, as well as from many animal protection organizations. “Some may ask why we need a declaration now,” said Mrs. Simson. “The achievement of the declaration is an important step and will act as a catalyst for change in the following ways: by raising the status of animal welfare as an international issue; by encouraging all governments to establish or improve national animal welfare legislation and its implementation; by encouraging those industries which utilize animals to keep their welfare at the forefront of their policies and practices; and finally, by inspiring positive change in public attitudes and actions toward animals.”
Although the motion is not legally binding on the government, it is highly symbolic and acknowledges how Canada, as a country, feels about the welfare of animals. It is the hope that the adoption of the resolution will not only influence laws within Canada, but will serve to establish Canada as a world leader in the protection of animal welfare. “People's attitudes and behaviour toward animals mirror their treatment of other people,” said Mrs. Jennings. “Animals cannot defend themselves, so we must act on their behalf.”