MPs approve bill banning export of horses for slaughter

Lively debate on it expected in the Senate

Ottawa-MPs have given final approval to Kitchener-Conestoga Liberal MP Tim Louis’ bill to ban the export of horses for slaughter, which now goes to the Senate for approval.

With the Bloc Quebecois and NDP supporting the bill, the Conservatives did not force a final vote on the bill but made clear their opposition to it because of the disruption it will cause to producers across the country.

Louis said that while the bill has stirred up a lot of emotions, it is grounded in science and facts. The evidence from experts and veterinarians “supports the need for this legislation, and our duty as lawmakers is to make informed decisions based on empirical evidence.”

While the health of farmed animals is protected under federal law, it does not cover the export of live horses for slaughter. “By banning this practice, we would send a clear message, a message that Canadians are asking for, which is to put an end to the export of live horses from Canada by air to other countries to be slaughtered for raw consumption as a delicacy.”

The bill would still allow the raising of horses for slaughter and their meat to be exported, he said. It includes an 18-minth coming into force provision to allow breeders and others in the business to adjust.

NDP ag critic Alistair MacGregor, who helped Louis garner support for the bill, said both Racetracks of Canada and Barbara Cartwright, the CEO of Humane Canada, are strong supporters of the bill.

Racetrack called “exporting horses by air for slaughter to be abhorrent, and our industry has long taken extensive measures to ensure that horses exiting their time in horse racing find caring and quality ownership in Canada,” MacGregor said.

“I think that really blows out of the water the Conservative narrative that this bill is attacking animal agriculture.”

Cartwright said that the testimony to the Commons agriculture committee on the bill “that focuses on the experience of the animals and not on the experience of the farmer or the agriculture business, you will see very clearly that the experience of the animal, which is what should be considered here, is a lot of tension, anxiety, fear and pain, all the way up to death. I would implore Parliament to look at the horse, not the farmer.”

Conservative MP Blaine Calkins said about 347 breeders provide purpose-bred horses for consumption to nations such as Japan. The majority of horses exported for this purpose are from Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta. There are many other exporting countries including the U.K., Argentina, Belgium, Poland, France and the Netherlands.

More than a billion people eat horsemeat making this industry an incredibly important part of our food supply and food security globally, he said.

This news item was prepared for National Newswatch