Wednesday, October 20, 2010

On finishing what is started

I remember the days when we didn't 'trust anyone over thirty'.  Now my own daughter is over thirty and I'm freewheeling down to fifty-six on Friday! 
What a long strange trip its been, looking back.  When I was a little girl, equal pay legislation for women was being passed at a provincial level around the country, but it wasn't until the year my own daughter was born that the Canadian Human Rights Act really lent any strength to provincial laws
I was actually almost thirty before the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms became part of our Constitution.
Before that ...individual enlightened men like my father knew that women were often shortchanged in the workplace, but there was nothing on the books to keep everyone else on the straight and narrow.
Legislation is ALWAYS the biggest tool for social change.  Deep down everyone knows its dangerous and life threatening to drink and drive.  Deep down.  But it took better legislation and stiffer penalties to minimize the odds of it happening.  
Does that mean that nobody drinks and drives anymore?  Of course not.  But now ... when they are 'caught in the act' there are meaningful penalties that can be applied.
So does that mean that the 'new' Animal Protection Act will stop animal abusers in their tracks?  Not even close. 
Why?   Until the regulations to support the bill are written by the lawyers, the Act is still just a nice idea that seems to have been only window dressing in response to the strong voter feedback relating to the very sneaky attempted inclusion of clauses 6 -8 ( read BSL ) into Bill 138, which was actually a municipal housekeeping bill.
( The subject of how clauses 31-33 were exempted from the proclamation is a separate subject deserving of its own space again on another day ..sigh. If you will recall, that was supposed to initiate the magical appeal board which everyone was so smitten with, eh? )
Do you know anyone who has ever bought a car so that they could just park it in the driveway?  Regulations are the gas that get any  bill out of the driveway and onto the street.  Without them, the society was only able to draft a White Paper on Gaps in Legislation.  Without them,  there are not enough specifics to support successful prosecution of animal abuse. Without them, there can never penalties meaningful enough to deter animal abuse.
Dogs will keep freezing to death on the end of a chain, cats will keep popping up in dumpsters and back country roads and there will be not one bit of justice for every Unsung Unhappy Tail.
Even worse ... without the regulations abuse can be publicly flaunted in the firm knowledge that there are enough legal loopholes to slide the biggest and worst puppy mill through.
If the NDP bobsled team would like to recover a bit of lost ground, there is no more efficient way for them to do so "gas up" the Animal Protection Act so that it can do the job it was originally supposed to do.   The Act has been "bought and paid for" in legislative and committee man hours already ... its even been proclaimed.  But all that is just a big fat waste of time and money if they don't finish the job of writing the regulations.
What time is it?  Its always time to remember that strong voter feedback is the most effective way to get response from any politician of any stripe.  In these budget conscious days, someone has found funds for a new site, and so one should click here now for MLA contact information.