Ag committee approves bill to ban exports of horses for slaughter

Bill still needs final approval in Commons and the Senate

Ottawa—A bill from Kitchner-Conestoga Liberal MP Tim Louis to ban the export of horses for slaughter has been approved by the agriculture committee and will return to the Commons for final approval and reference to the Senate.

Conservatives voted against the bill and were unsuccessful in getting the ban to be phased in over five years instead of the 18 months provided for in the bill to allow the farmers who raise the animals to wind down their operations.

One of the knottier issues for the MPs was to avoid complicating the transportation of horses by air for sports or show competitions.

Conservative ag critic John Barlow John Barlow said most witnesses during the committee’s hearings were not concerned about what happened to the horses in Japan but the conditions they were transported under.

“When witnesses were questioned by members of this committee about their concerns with horse slaughter in Canada or for horses being food in other parts of the world, that didn't seem to be a concern.”

Chair Kody Blois said the bill referred to the committee after passing approval in principle in the Commons was solely concerned with banning exportation by air of live horses for the purpose of being slaughtered.

Conservative MP Warren Steinley, who tried to get the ban phased in over 5 years, said it was needed to mitigate the impact on the people who now raised horses for slaughter. “They told us about the effects it can have on their livelihood, given the gestation period of horses and animal health consequences, and the fact that it will destroy people's livelihoods, forcing them to find other means to make a living, which could include retraining in other education for themselves.

“I think it is incumbent upon us to think about the people who have put their heart and soul into raising these animals. It is their livelihood. It is part of their past and their present, but obviously it is not in their future if this bill does come into force. I think delaying this so that we give the proper amount of time for people to figure out how it's going to affect their lives from here on would be compassionate and something that this committee should take seriously. It's going to affect the lives of lots of people, and we should give them time to rebuild those lives.”

This news item was prepared for National Newswatch