Post Office Box 483, Durham, Ontario, NOG 1RO
Phone: (519) 369-295  /  Fax: (519) 369-2992
E-Mail: opera@bmts.com  / Web Page: www.bmts.com/~opera/

20 August 2002

The Honourable Lorna Milne, Chair
Senate Standing Committee
Legal and Constitutional Affairs
Senate of Canada
, Ontario, K1A OA4

Dear Senator. Milne:                          RE: Bill C-15B (Animal Cruelty Act)

launched in 1994, the Ontario Property and Environmental Rights Alliance (OPERA) is a coalition of provincial citizen groups and trade associations organized under a common mandate to scrutinise, research and, where indicated, comment on government legislation that directly affects the lives and property of private citizens.

The coalition is funded by individuals and the combined membership of the Association of Rural Property Owners, Georgian Triangle Development Institute, Grey Association for Democracy and Growth, Morewood Esker Landowners Association, Ontario Ski Resorts Association, Voice of King Area Landowners and York Durham Farmers Assessment Association.

Our constituents are concerned about the thrust and direction of statutes that rely on federal Criminal Code powers for their national implementation and, in the process diminish the prerogatives but increase the responsibilities of private land ownership across Canada. From that perspective, they feel strongly that the proposed Cruelty to Animals Act (Bill C-15B) now before your Committee requires substantial clarification. Although OPERA, as a coalition, is not professionally involved in the business of agriculture, many of its members are livestock farmers. We support the position of reputable farm organisations such as the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and the Canadian Cattlemen Association whose C-15B submissions to the Committee may touch on any or all of the following concerns:

The Bill, as written, appears to reflect the views and support the agenda of animal rights extremists while ignoring economic consequences clearly adverse to the interests and livelihood of livestock farmers and ranchers.  

The legislation provides an opportunity, if not an invitation, for powerful special interest groups to launch court proceedings against rural landowners whose personal resources could not long or often sustain an effective defence.

Stripped of noble intention and commendable objectives, C-15B may be a government initiative to arbitrarily intervene in the control and management of private property on the specious grounds of improving animal welfare.

The proposed Bill aims to protect “any anima l capable of feeling pain” but offers no clear definition of “animal” or “pain” either of which term can be elasticised on whim, impulse or opinion of the animal rights lobby in order to initiate legal actions.

Contrary to the intent of the British North America Act, B-15B appears to invoke federal Criminal Code provisions as a means to enlarge, duplicate or supersede existing provincial and territorial animal protection laws.

OPERA respectfully asks your Committee to carefully consider the above comments, which will, of course, be circulated in due course to Senate members as well as to elected provincial and federal parliamentary representatives and various farm organisations. 

Yours truly 

R.A. (Bob) Fowler

“to protect, and entrench in law, landowner rights and responsibilities”

If you have any questions or comments, please Mr. R. A. Fowler, Secretary.
or write
O.P.E.R.A. c/o R.A. Fowler, Secretary P.O. Box 483, Durham, Ontario. N0G 1R0