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Animal cruelty bill passes

Parliament has approved a private member’s bill to update Canada’s animal cruelty laws. The bill had previously been introduced by Liberal Senator John Bryden and passed in the Senate, so now needs only royal assent to become law.

The main feature of the bill is stiffer penalties than under the current law, which dates to 1892. The maximum penalty for animal cruelty will increase to five years imprisonment and/or a $10,000 fine. The current maximum is six months imprisonment and/or a $2,000 fine.

Animal welfare groups have criticized the bill as weak and ineffective, but appears to be welcomed by farming and hunting organizations who had opposed previous bills which have been stalled in Parliament for over 10 years.

They were concerned about provisions of earlier bills and a similar current private members’ bill sponsored by Liberal MP Mark Holland. It would remove animal cruelty from the property crime section of the Criminal Code and extend protection to strays and wildlife.

“The fact that the bill provides for changes to the law without penalizing legal, lawful, heavily regulated animal use industries is a testament to the balanced approach,” the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters said in a release.

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