Sunday, October 18, 2009

Taking Stock, part one

My great grandmother was a baby when the current federal animal cruelty legislation was introduced in Canada. Not my 54 year old self .... not my mother....not even my grandmother .... but my great grandmother! Over the years amendments have made improvements for farm animals and wildlife, but companion animals are as legally vulnerable now as they were a hundred and seventeen years ago in this country.
Her generation would be the first to legally hold property, but before that happened, inventors of both genders would have already introduced the first X Rays, Movies and even the electric vacuum cleaner. Since rights varied between provinces, my great granny in PEI became legally eligible to hold property in 1903 .... the same year that the Wright Brothers built their first plane.
She would be forty before women were recognized by the Canadian Supreme court as persons in their own right. Before that happened, the Model T would have burst on the world. Although they wouldn't be yet be found in everyday homes, electric washing machines, air conditioners and Television were off of the drawing board and on their way. She was still considered property when the first rocket took flight.
She was on her way to being a great grandmother before Canadian white women had the right to vote .... and she was part of the family history before all women in this country had the right to vote. Working helicopters were being built before that happened.
She never did have the right to equal pay for equal work .... that wouldn't happen until her grandaughter's (my mother's) day. They were building nuclear power reactors and (possibly) walking on the Moon before that happened.
I belong to the first generation of women whose jobs were protected while they went on maternity leave fact the ink was still wet on the legislation when my daughter was born. The first Apple and the original Dyson were launched before that.
From laser surgery to computers that fit in a cell phone ... gosh to cell phones themselves the world has changes tremendously since the late seventies. When I was a young mother, I could never have imagined that I would have a computer, let alone the multitude of conveniences it would offer.
My daughter was past being a toddler when I bought my first color tv. At the time, banks were still refusing loans for cars to divorced women with permanent jobs. Supervisors were still advising women not to pursue harassment charges because it "would be bad for the man's career" and priests were still counselling forgive and forget for assault and battery.
I'm not one of these women who yearns for yesteryear with nostalgia. I love having the ability to choose which electrical appliances I wish to have in my home for my own convenience. (Although I do have sympathy for the elderly women who never expected to have to pump their own gas and carry their own groceries )
With all of the changes that have happened in the last century and a quarter ... how is it that the federal animal cruelty legislation has stayed the same for companion animals?
Its not for a lack of trying ... but every time something meaningful is put on the table, it is either watered down by the voice for the puppy millers/ aka PIJAC or lacks the (voter driven) priority to get through parliament before an election is called.
Added to that is the popular misconception that moving animal cruelty offenses out of the property section means that pets will no longer be able to be owned. In reality, the latest attempt, Bill C -229 still refers to companion animals as "owned" ... the shift from their current status as property does not change that.
What it does change is the ability for justice to minimize animal cruelty offenses as property offenses by legally recognizing that companion animals are living breathing sentient beings who are capable of feeling pain and suffering.
The other important change that Bill C-229 is hoping to make is the removal of the phrase "willful neglect' from the language of animal cruelty legislation. Neglect is a very hard thing to prove legally and the stupid card is often used by defense lawyers to keep animal abusers from being convicted or having harsh penalties applied .... your honor my client didn't know that would hurt/harm/wasn't appropriate/etc.....
What time is it? If the whole world can change so radically in such a short time, its time for our federal Members of Parliament to stand up for the animals with Bill C-229.
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. - Bishop Desmond Tutu (1931- ), Nobel Prize for Peace 1984


Anonymous said...

I think that both the hunting and the farming lobby have influenced politicians and caused these reforms to either stall or be watered down fearing that if they allow these bills to pass that factory farming, canned hunting etc would be next in the spot light.

Old Maid said...

you are quite correct .... and PIJAC deliberately plays on their fears, when in truth its like comparing apples and oranges