The Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association filed its submissions on Quebec Bill 54: An Act to improve the legal situation of animals. The National Assembly of Quebec Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Natural Resources began its study of the bill last week.
The CMLA believes that the bill generally constitutes a positive development for the protection of animals in Quebec in that it recognizes that animals are not things but rather sentient beings.
The CMLA, however, is concerned about the scope of exemptions for agricultural, teaching and scientific practices that are “generally recognized” which excludes the overwhelming majority of animals from the protection afforded by Bill 54. The CMLA recommends that Bill 54 make animal interests a priority and tightly limit the scope of what are accepted as “generally recognized” agricultural practices. As a start, Bill 54 should prohibit practices such as debeaking, the use of confinement systems and castration without anesthetic.
Finally, the CMLA is concerned by certain comments attributed to the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food about halal slaughter. The Minister appears to believe that certain methods of halal slaughter are incompatible with Bill 54. This believe is misplaced and reflects a misunderstanding of not only the requirements for halal slaughter but also of broader Islamic ethical principles in relation to the treatment of animals. Halal slaughter requires that animals used for food are killed quickly and with minimal anxiety and suffering. In many ways, the essence of halal slaughter reflects the aspirations of Bill 54.
The CMLA thanks the members of the Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Natural Resources for the opportunity to participate in the legislative process on this important question and remains available to furnish additional information as needed.