Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Agriculture and Forestry

Issue 14 - Evidence

OTTAWA, Tuesday, October 16, 2001

The Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, to which was referred Bill S-22, to provide for the recognition of the Canadian horse as the national horse of Canada, met this day at 5:35 p.m. to give consideration to the bill.

Senator Leonard J. Gustafson (Chairman) in the Chair.


The Chairman: Honourable senators, today we are studying Bill S-22, to provide for the recognition of the Canadian horse as the national horse of Canada.

Senator Fairbairn has some excellent pictures of the Canadian horse with her today. Perhaps senators could look at them in order to know what the horse looks like.

Our first witnesses are from the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association.


Mr. Guy Paquet, President, Canadian Horse Breeders' Association: Founded in 1895, the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association was incorporated under Canada's Animal Pedigree Act. The association currently has 834 breeders and owners throughout Canada and in the United States. In addition to promoting the Canadian horse, the association ensures the validity of Canadian horse registrations.

The breed made its official début in 1896, with the establishment of a General Stud and Herd Book, and this must be considered one of the important steps in the recognition of the Canadian horse. The breed's origins go back as far as 1647, when the first horse arrived in the Saint Lawrence valley.

In 1992, historian Paul Bernier published a comprehensive study of the Canadian horse, the result of lengthy research. In order to write the history of the horse, the author had to consult all the studies, monographs, biographies and other sources containing information about horses. After consulting Mr. Bernier's work, we prepared this summary of the history of the Canadian horse.

Paul Bernier pointed out that there were no horses in America before the first European settlers arrived. In Canada, French horses were delivered to Acadia in 1609, 1610 and 1615. However, the colony at Port-Royal was looted in 1616 and the herd vanished.

In 1647, in Quebec City, the first horse was imported into New France, as a gift to Governor de Montmagny. In 1665, King Louis XIV sent a shipment of horses to the colony, having decided in 1660 to take responsibility for the colony's administration. Four other shipments of French horses followed, in 1667, 1668, 1670 and 1671.

After this last shipment, the King and Intendant Talon, who supervised the distribution of the horses on their arrival, considered that there were now enough horses in the colony to furnish a dependable supply of colts to all who needed them. All told, some 82 horses arrived in Quebec City during that period. As Mr. Bernier points out, the shipments of horses were one of the most successful features of the French colonial operations. Not only did the horses become an indispensable element of the social and economic life of New France, but they reproduced and adapted at a rate that exceeded the expectations of the governors. The horses transplanted here formed a new breed, with traits harking back to their origins and new characteristics that developed from their adaptation to the life and climate in America.

By 1685, there were 156 horses. Their number continued to grow, reaching 1,872 horses in 1706 and 3,786 in 1716. At the time of the Conquest in 1760, there were 12,757 horses in New France. It is clear that all of these were descended from the horses sent over by Louis XIV. At the time, contacts with the New England colonies was limited, and trading was hindered by geography, namely the Appalachians.

Mr. Bernier reports that after 1720, there was one horse for every five inhabitants. This increase in herd numbers is attributable to the horse's many uses, and also to a law forcing owners to breed their mares. Governors of the time considered breeding horses to be a citizen's duty.

While this period was noteworthy in terms of the number of foals born, there was less concern for and less attention paid to selection. According to Mr. Bernier, they left the development of the breed to chance and natural selection, which allowed the hardiest to survive and created a race renowned for its toughness. It was not for nothing that the Canadian horse was nicknamed "The Little Iron Horse."

For about 100 years, until the Conquest of 1760, with no new French horses being brought in and isolated from the English and Spanish horses in New England, the Canadian horses had time to establish their traits and develop into a distinct and separate breed.

At that time, there was no official Canadian breed. Nor was there a specific conformation description for these horses. However, the Canadian horse evolved in isolation and could not have inherited traits from other breeds. In addition, comments made by observers of the period, and sketches and pictures (notably paintings by Cornelius Krieghoff), show that the horse of that time resembled the Canadian horse we know today.

This is some of the earliest evidence that the Little Iron Horse is indeed part of Canada's history and part of Canada's heritage.

The Conquest was a turning point for New France society. The new arrivals influenced the way of life in the Saint Lawrence valley and opened the door to trade between New France and New England. Horses were also traded. The qualities of the Canadian horse were quickly discerned and appreciated south of the border.

Later on, at the time of the American Revolution, the Loyalists who came to settle in Canada wanted to retain strong ties with their homeland, England. They imported stallions and crossed Canadian horses with their British animals, which were primarily Clydesdales from Scotland. The fashion also held sway among French speakers and the Canadian horse was also used in other types of cross-breeding. Over the years, however, there remained ardent admirers of the Canadian horse who felt their little horse had some superb qualities that were likely to be lost if mating with other breeds was promoted.

This was a dark age for the Canadian horse, which suffered from all too numerous sales to the United States and from indiscriminate breeding.

Reconstructing the breed began in 1869 when the Parliament in Quebec City established an agricultural commission for the province of Quebec. This agency had a mandate to resume breeding of Canadian horses. On October 12, 1869, its directors decreed:

That a supplement be accorded to the three agricultural societies with the best stallions of the Canadian breed, whose quality and purity are recognized by Dr. Têtu (provincial veterinarian) and J. Dawes.

The Commission also stipulated that the bonus was set at $100 per horse and that is would be awarded on the condition that the agricultural society keep the stallion for two years.

In 1870, Louis Archambault, Minister of Agriculture and Public Works, called for the abolition of the supplement for importing stallions.

Canadian horse breeding then took another track, as the animals were now to be assessed by experts. Breeding became more scientific and was based on specific evaluation criteria, opening up the possibilities for genetic selection. Out of this new philosophy came the idea of setting up a national stud book, although it took nearly twenty years before it actually happened, in 1890.

With a budget of $100,000, officials bought 50 Percheron, Norman and Breton stallions. Not one single Clydesdale was purchased, proof of their desire to "return the Canadian horse to its origins."

Unfortunately, the stud book made little impact on breeders, as it was used primarily by experimental farms and by breeders in the US who were always interested in the qualities of the Saint Lawrence valley horses.

In 1886, the agriculture commission decided to open a breed herdbook. This clearly expressed desire had an impact among breeders of horses that many already considered extinct. Over the next year, agricultural shows, and primarily the one in Quebec City, attracted a few very good Canadian horses, proving that the breed was indeed still alive.

In 1889, the agriculture commission asked the Canadian cattle herdbooks committee to make room for Canadian horses. Dr. J.A. Couture, chief veterinarian for the Ministry of Agriculture, was tasked with seeking out, inspecting and, if they were worthy, entering their names in the stud book. Dr. Couture found few stallions with the sought-after traits, but discovered a large number of appropriate mares, and it is from this core group that the breed was rebuilt.

Also at that time, Dr. Couture bought together the breeders whose horses had been entered in the stud book and founded the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association. The Canadian horse now had another tool to ensure its development.

In 1905, the Ministry of Agriculture pointed out that the results over the past twenty years had been more than encouraging: the stud book now contained 2000 entries.

The federal government also took note of the breed's development and gave its unequivocal support to the Canadian horse. With the backing of Mr. J.G. Rutherford, a specialist with the Department, Agriculture Minister Sidney Fisher introduced a plan to improve the breed. The decision involved reviewing the stud book. In 1907, Rutherford, with the assistance of two representatives from the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association, one of whom was Dr. Couture, and two representatives from the federal Department of Agriculture, decided to close the studbook and conduct another inspection of the horses.

Of the 2,528 horses registered at that time, the committee retained only 134 stallions and 835 mares. Unfortunately, as the committee was unable to go outside Quebec, a number of horses in more distant locations such as the Maritimes, Ontario, Western provinces and the United States, were stricken from the stud books. In 1910, following an information campaign targeting agricultural shows, the studbook contained 1,500 entries.

In 1912, the federal Minister of Agriculture followed up on the committee's second recommendation and inaugurated a breeding program at the Cap-Rouge Experimental Station near Quebec City. In 1919, the program was transferred to St. Joachim, near Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. The government ended the improvement program at St. Joachim in 1940. The Quebec Department of Agriculture took over the program and a Canadian horse breeding program was begun at the demonstration farm at Deschambault. It was here that, twenty-five years later, a new selection program was launched.

From 1964 to 1979, the goal was to develop traits that made the Canadian horse better for riding. The breeding line, known up until that point as producing carriage horses or pack horses, needed to be refined.

This attitude was attributable to a new state of affairs. The advent of steam engines, initially, and then electricity, the automobile and the tractor, gradually replaced the Canadian horse, as well as the other breeds, on the farm and in the city where they had been used for public transportation. Recreational riding than became more important. The Quebec government remained involved until 1981, when the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food decided to auction off the 44 horses in its Deschambault stables. The ministry justified its decision by saying that it wanted to give responsibility for the herd back to breeders. Around the early 1960s, however, the Canadian horse was again threatened with extinction once it was no longer being used as a pack horse. A number of breeders, even though they continued to raise Canadian horses, failed to register them.

This situation led the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association to open its stud books. As reported in the CHBA minutes, from 1970 to 1973, the association agreed to enter in its stud books mares whose parents were not entered, as long as its inspectors considered the horses to have sufficient traits of the breed. However, these horses were not considered purebred, but there was a series of regulations that promoted registering their offspring, so that, three or four generations later, the foals would be given purebred status.

In 1978, the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association judged the herd at between 250 and 400 horses. Today, its estimate is around 3,2000 and the number is steadily rising. Since 1999, about 400 foals have been registered every year. Canadian horse breeders can once more claim victory. The ever-increasing demand for horses for leisure, for riding or pulling carriages, will provide the Canadian horse with a fresh opportunity to regain its position in Canada's equine population.

The history of the Canadian horse is closely linked to the development of Canada, as they helped the farmers of the time to build a vigorous society. The also played a significant role in developing our economy, bu allowing for the transportation of people and goods, and by bearing the brunt of the active trading that went on between Canada and the United States.

Twice the breed faced extinction, but efforts made by farmers enabled it to remain an important part of our history. It is certainly a national symbol that continues to attract the attention of Canadians. Over the past few years, the demand for Canadian horses has steadily increased. In 1998, our association had 670 members, only 32 per cent of whom were not residents of Quebec. Today, we have 834 members, and 43 per cent of them live in other Canadian provinces.

In 1999, for all of these reasons, Murray Calder, MP, tabled a bill providing for the recognition of the Canadian horse as the national horse of Canada. The Canadian Horse Breeders' Association lent its full support to this initiative. Today, a new bill providing for the recognition of the Canadian horse is being considered. We are delighted to support this measure, and we hope that parliamentarians will rally together in honouring our Little Iron Horse, and by declaring "The Canadian horse is the national horse of Canada."


The Chairman: You have given us a thorough run-down of the history of the Canadian horse. You are the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association. Do you register all the horses across Canada?


Mr. Paquet: The Canadian Horse Breeders' Association is responsible for registering all horses in Canada.


The Chairman: I am somewhat familiar with cattle breeding and registration. We have Maine-Anjou cattle, and so on, on our farm. Some cattle are purebred and then some are half-bred. Do you have that within your association?


Mr. Paquet: Yet, we have experienced the same thing in recent years. However, following the reconstruction of the Canadian breed, horses exhibiting some of the traits of the breed were deemed to be Canadian horses, although not purebreds, except for stallions. As I explained to you in my presentation, three or four generations later, they became purebred, or were deemed half blood, or a three quarter mix.


The Chairman: Possibly, I should have used the words "full blood" or "half blood" or something. Do you use those terms?

Mr. Paquet: Yes, the same thing.

Senator Oliver: In your presentation, you spoke about the fact that these horses were not purebred. Of the 3,200 horses in Canada today, how many do you consider to be purebred?


Mr. Paquet: According to the stud book, they were all considered purebred at the time. Currently, a horse that is legally registered is deemed to be a purebred Canadian horse.


Senator Oliver: Before this designation of "purebred" was given to all these horses, what were some of the other animals in Canada with which they were being bred? Were they being bred with the Morgan horse, for example?


Mr. Paquet: In the past, some horses were bred with the Clydesdale, as I noted in my presentation. However, since the stud books were last opened, the focus has been on breeding purebreds only.


Senator Oliver: Is it correct that most of the 3,200 today are about 15 or 16 hands?


Mr. Paquet: No, generally speaking the Canadian horse should ideally stand between 15 and 16 hands.


Senator Tunney: Mr. Chairman, I have a question and a comment. What method of identification do you use? Is it tagging or under-the-skin identification? Is it electronic or physical?


Mr. Paquet: These electronic chips are implanted under the skin in the animal's neck. They are furnished by a very reliable organization and are recognized under the Animal Pedigree Act. All registration is regulated under the legislation.


Senator Tunney: When I look at the picture that you have provided, I see that the cover has a buggy whip on it. Buggy whips used to be popular 50 years ago. With present concerns about animal rights, they may not be so popular. That is my comment.

Mr. Paquet: That is just for show.


Senator LaPierre: It is important not to have half breeds.

Mr. Paquet: There are no half breeds.

Senator LaPierre: Are there other breeds that could be designated as Canadian?

Mr. Paquet: No, at present, no breed can be designated in Canada as the Canadian horse.

Senator LaPierre: Bill S-22 applies only to the breed which you have spoke of today?

Mr. Paquet: That is correct, senator.

Senator LaPierre: Western aboriginal peoples also had horses.

Mr. Paquet: Yes, they did.

Senator LaPierre: What became of those horses?

Mr. Paquet: These horses were the result of cross-breeding. They were not considered purebreds, but rather mix breeds.

Senator LaPierre: As you may know, the sons of La Vérendrye journeyed to the West and came in contact with the Spanish American horse. These horses were ultimately imported into Western Canada at some point in this nation's history.

Mr. Paquet: That is correct.

Senator LaPierre: Were they ever bred with our horses?

Mr. Paquet: Occasionally, farmers and aboriginals may not have registered their horses. It is possible that the breeds were cross-bred at some point.

Senator LaPierre: You stated that there are an estimated 3,200 Canadian horses today.

Mr. Paquet: Yes.


Senator LaPierre: We could bring all the horses to Ottawa and look at them.


Mr. Paquet: Yes.

Senator LaPierre: The 3,200 horses?

Mr. Paquet: Yes.


Senator LaPierre: I will arrange that.

May I offer another reason why this horse should be recognized as our national horse? Before the Conquest, Quebec-Canadian society was dominated by a crook who starved the population to a large degree. They had no meat and nothing else to eat, in many instances. The women of Quebec, including Montreal, and the farmers all around ganged together and marched to see Vaudreuil, the first Governor General of Canada, to ask him to feed them. He told them to eat the horses. The women said, "We cannot eat our friends."


The horse is our friend. We do not eat horse meat. They did not eat horse meat when they had nothing else to eat.

Mr. Paquet: That is true. In the past, that has happened.


It is important that this horse become the national horse of Canada.

Senator Fairbairn: I wish to thank you for coming here tonight. I feel that perhaps I should be sitting up there with you, rather than around the table with the other senators.

For the benefit of my colleagues, I have brought pictures, not just to show what a fine animal the Canadien horse is, but to show that it has indeed become a symbol in other parts of this country. I am from Southern Alberta, where there are a number of breeders. There are also very active breeders in the central part of our province. The animals shown here are hugely popular in my area, but they are also used, for instance, in a place like Spruce Meadows, the international equestrian park outside Calgary. They will often have, as a symbol, the Canadien horses in a sort of parade of honour at the opening of their events.

Obviously, I support this bill. I support my colleague, Senator Murray. Certainly, the people whom I represent in my province are very proud that such a bill would be before our Canadian Parliament.

You represent the national organization. To what degree does the organization, aside from its record books, keep in touch and stay involved with the breeders in other parts of the country? Three thousand horses across the land is not an enormous number for a significant, historic breed like this. How closely do you keep in touch with other breeders who may have smaller herds, but who, nonetheless, are eager to do what you are doing and preserve the breed?


Mr. Paquet: Currently, the association publishes a quarterly journal called The Canadian Horse. Each district, be it British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec or Atlantic Canada, has an opportunity to share news about all local members. News from Alberta, Ontario and elsewhere is also published. The journal provides an overview of all of the activities of the association's board, an account of meetings as well as minutes, and a rundown of the decisions made by association members who own Canadian horses.

In order to own a Canadian horse, a person must be a member of the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association. That is the most important requirement. All pertinent information about the Canadian horse is available nationwide to association members.


Senator Fairbairn: You have underlined the point that, through the efforts of your organization over many years, you have it narrowed down into the purebred, pure blood Canadien horse breed. In different parts of the country - for instance, Quebec - would your herd at any time connect with the herds of those folks in central Alberta or wherever? Do you do that?


Mr. Paquet: Obviously, we are in contact with these individuals. It is possible for Albertans to bring in sperm from stallions in order to breed new full blood horses in Alberta.


Senator Oliver: I have a supplementary question. Are there any of these horses in the United States of America? If so, what would happen if the sperm of a stallion in the United States were to go to a mare, say, from Quebec? What would happen?


Mr. Paquet: Currently, any horse sold to the United States comes with a registration certificate issued in accordance with the Animal Pedigree Act. This certificate is issued in Canada. An individual who arranges to have his mare impregnated in the United States could obtain a purebred certificate by contacting the Canadian Registration Board. Blood and DNA samples are then requested. The breeder must supply a sample of the horse's blood which is then analysed by a lab to confirm blood lines. A certificate is then issued decreeing that the horse is indeed a Canadian horse.


Senator Wiebe: I have several questions. Before I begin, I wish to say that I support this piece of proposed legislation 100 per cent, although I must admit that my favourite horse is the Morgan horse. That horse was developed strictly in America.

I gather from your history, the Canadien horse developed basically from 1647 to 1978. The animal that we now call the Canadien horse has evolved over those years. Is that a correct assumption?


Mr. Paquet: To date, it is going rather well.


Senator Wiebe: While this horse has many of the traits of the original 1647 horse, in effect, we in Canada have done the same thing as they did with the Morgan horse - we developed our own horse.

The Chairman: I think we need come clarification here.


Mr. Paquet: I am having a bit of a problem with the interpretation. Could you kindly repeat your question?


Senator Wiebe: From the presentation that you made on the history, basically the horse that is registered today as the Canadien horse was developed here in Canada during the period 1647 to 1978. Since 1978, there have been no more additions or changes made to the actual breed, but changes did take place during that time period. Is that a correct assumption?


Mr. Paquet: No, there have not been any changes. The only change over the period has been that the Canadian horse is perhaps a little taller today.


Senator Oliver: It is still 15 or 16 hands?

Mr. Paquet: Yes.

Senator Wiebe: In your history, you said that the general public no longer had use for draft animals; they were looking for riding animals. To meet that demand, you made some genetic changes to the Canadien horse. If that is the case, what we did was develop our own horse here in Canada. Therefore, the horse we have registered since 1978 may have the basic traits of the original horse that arrived in 1647, but other traits have been added throughout the years, like the Clydesdale, for example, and some of the others.

According to your history, there were periods of time when no record of studs was kept. Therefore, to re-establish that record, you had to allow for three or four generations of what you thought was the Canadien horse to be recorded. At that time - that is, after three or four generations - you could then begin to issue your stud papers again.

Senator Oliver: That is what they did.

Senator Wiebe: The argument that I am making is that you, or the association, have developed a horse that is very distinctive to Canada and added some traits along the way - for example, for riding.

My argument is to add weight to the fact that, yes, this is a Canadian horse, because we have developed it to suit our particular needs in this country. Is that correct?


Mr. Paquet: Moreover, I mentioned in my presentation that back at Deschambault stables in 1969, some Canadian horse breeders asked that the breed traits be refined. Some shortcomings had been identified, the horse being heavier and more robust. Today, with these refinements, the Canadian horse is well structured.


Senator Wiebe: I imagine that you have had an opportunity to read the bill. Are there any aspects of it with which you do not agree? That may lead to my next question.


Mr. Paquet: As Président of the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association, I am aware of the difference of opinion as to the translation of Canadian Horse Breeding Association and Canadian Breeding Association.

We have never had a problem with the translation and feel the association should be referred to as the Canadian Breeders' Association, to satisfy both association. In our view, the expression "Canadian horse" translates equally well in English and in French.


Senator Wiebe: I asked that question because, as you know, the way the bill is written, the name is spelled "-i-e-n." If the translation of the presentation that you made before us today is correct, at the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association the spelling is "i-a-n."

Senator Stratton: It is both.


Mr. Paquet: When the stud books were opened, the terms developed for use were the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association in English, and the Société d'éleveurs de chevaux canadiens in French. That explains why the word is spelled "CANADIAN." We do not object to that and we accept both spellings, because that is the translation of "cheval canadien."


The Chairman: It is in the translation. It could certainly be either way.

Senator Stratton: Are you suggesting that the bill should be corrected?

Senator Wiebe: No, I am not suggesting that. I was just asking for his opinion on that and he gave it.

Senator Stratton: I do not know the first thing about horses, although I have been on a few. I have designed a few riding stables, as well as boxcars for horses.

Everyone around this table seems quite supportive of the Canadien horse. I am not against it at all. This is much like the debate on our national sport. We started off talking about hockey as our national sport, and what did we end up with? In typically Canadian fashion, we ended up with hockey and lacrosse. My question today is: Will we end up with a situation where, all of a sudden, other horse breeding associations will come to us and say, "What about us?" Will we be stepping into a minefield where every other association will want to have its own breed identified as "the Canadian horse"? We must address that issue, because we could end up with hockey and lacrosse all over again.


Mr. Paquet: I understand your question perfectly well. The Canadian Horse Breeders' Association has a constitution stating that the Canadian horse belongs to Canadians and Quebeckers and the underlying principle cannot, under any circumstances, be exported beyond these borders. This is a horse that has been bred and refined in Canada for Canadians. Given that there are only 60 of the 3,200 horses in the United States, it is inconceivable that one day this horse might no longer belong to us. There would need to be over 834 members in the U.S. for this horse to be entered in competitions. The national office is located in Quebec. This is a Quebec organization with head offices in Quebec. It is inconceivable that our Canadian horse might one day disappear.


Senator Stratton: My real question is: Is there any other horse in Canada that is a truly Canadian breed?


Mr. Paquet: No, senator, it is the only horse.


The Chairman: Thank you for appearing here this evening. This has been an interesting exchange.

We will now call on our next witness, Mr. Ted Lawrence from Rare Breeds Canada, to take his place at the table.

Mr. Ted Lawrence, Chair, Rare Breeds Canada: Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear before your committee this evening. I am an engineering geologist by trade, but an organic farmer by choice. For several years, my wife and I have been raising rare and endangered species of domestic animals on our farm in the Gatineau. We raise Newfoundland ponies, which are very similar to the Canadien horse. It could be considered a truly Canadian animal as well.

This presentation reflects the perspective of Rare Breeds Canada. It stresses the heritage and historical aspects of the breed and where we are going with it.

Rare Breeds Canada is a federally incorporated charitable organization founded in 1987. It is dedicated to conserving and promoting rare and endangered breeds of livestock.

We have a quarterly journal called Genesis in which our activities are published. It is distributed to approximately 800 members throughout Canada.

Our mission is to make Canadians more aware of their agricultural heritage and, through education and niche marketing, involve them in preserving endangered breeds of farm livestock. We do this in a number of ways. The most visible is through a host farm program. Rare Breeds Canada owns rare animals, or those in danger of extinction or threatened, and places them with farmers across Canada, who act as hosts. They breed these animals and increase their numbers. In exchange for this, they receive every second one of the progeny. Rare Breeds Canada then places these new groups of animals on other host farms and repeats the process.

We also have a large sperm bank from rare and endangered domestic livestock. We also promote the commercial value of heritage breeds. If there is no commercial value, there is no interest. This is paramount, because they will become extinct if there is no commercial use for them.

We try to educate the public about what we are doing and its importance. We work with other organizations in Canada, such as the breed associations for the various endangered breeds, as well as with similar international organizations. The most important are a similar organization in Britain, and an American organization.

Tonight I would like to provide information in support of the bill, discuss possible problems and issues, and comment on the importance of heritage breeds.

When requested to make this presentation, I asked myself about the criteria we use to judge a national symbol. We have a history of using plants and animals, and various other symbols, to represent us, both nationally and provincially. They must be historically significant. They must be recognized by a broad base of the population and be widely distributed. They must have heritage significance for Canadians.

The use of symbols in Canada federally goes back a long way. Back in 1678, the Hudson's Bay Company used the beaver on its official seal. The beaver was also used on the coat of arms of Nova Scotia in 1621. We have embraced the maple leaf. It has been on the coat of arms of Canada since 1921. We see the maple leaf on the flag we adopted in 1965.

Although use of the beaver has a long history, it was only officially legislated as a symbol for Canada in 1975, as was the maple leaf in 1996. The history is long, but we did not legislate it until more recently.

Most of the provinces have a provincial flower and/or tree and/or a bird as symbols. They also have minerals, gems, tartans, official colours and wild animals, and some provinces also have domestic animals as symbols. Therefore, there is a broad foundation for designating the Canadien horse as the national horse of Canada.

Other domestic animals that have been used as symbols by provinces include the Newfoundland pony and the Newfoundland dog in Newfoundland. Nova Scotia has the duck tolling retriever. Quebec has the Canadien cow, the Canadien horse and the Chanticleer chicken. The North has the Innu dog.

What is the historical significance of the Canadien horse? You have just heard a presentation on the detailed history of the horse in Canada. I will touch on only a few points.

The Canadien horse was the first horse in New France. It dates back to the mid-1600s. A horse of Norman and Breton stock, it was a gift of Louis XIV. This horse has been the foundation stock for a number of modern breeds. The population was at its peak in the mid-1800s. It is legendary for its use as a draft or riding horse, and for its even disposition and intelligence. As you heard, the stud books were opened in 1885 and registration started in 1905.

Is there regional recognition for this animal? There are breeders in all provinces of Canada, the Northwest Territories and the United States. Animals have been exported to Europe, South America and elsewhere. They are well known for endurance in trail riding. They are draft horses of phenomenal strength and stamina; they have been proven in the show ring and dressage; and they are prized as family horses.

How widely is the population of the Canadien horse distributed? All pedigree animals in Canada are recorded in the Canadian Livestock Records under the Pedigree Act. To date, there have been 8,599 registrations. Half of these have been since 1975. From 1910 to about 1950, the average number of registrations per year was only 25. In many years, no animals were registered. Between 1970 and 1980, on average, 45 animals were registered per year. Between 1980 and 1990, the average was 100. Between 1990 and 2000, the average number of registrations was 182. The most recent year for which we have complete figures is 2000, when there were 380 registrations. This includes both pure and non-pure registrations.

Approximately two-thirds of Canadien horses are in Quebec and approximately 12 per cent in each of Ontario and Alberta, with the rest distributed elsewhere. Canadian Livestock Records estimates that there are 2,000 breeding females, with a total population of 4,000 to 5,000.

As for its heritage significance for Canadians, we believe that the Canadien horse was pivotal to the success of the economy of New France - prior to the horse, only oxen were used for draft animals - and also to the survival of early inhabitants. The Canadien horse has had a major influence in farming as well as in the development of other breeds of horse.

The heroic deeds of the Canadien horse are well represented in Canadian literature and art. I give you the example of Cornelius Krieghoff. The attributes of the Canadien horse, which include a docile nature, willingness to work hard, loyalty and intelligence, reflect the values of Canadians. It is one of only a few Canadian domestic breeds. The only others that come to mind are the Canadien cow and the Newfoundland pony. These are the only breeds that were developed in Canada.

Doubtless the Canadien horse is worthy of being the national horse of Canada.

I should like to touch on a couple of related issues. First, the Canadien horse was designated a heritage animal in Quebec in December 1999, along with the Canadien cow and the Chanticleer chicken.

There are organizations and people with diverse agendas with an interest in the Canadien horse. There is a risk of changes to the animal and the breed standards. To understand this, we must understand what a breed is. A breed is a group of animals that, through selection and breeding, have come to resemble one another and pass on their traits uniformly to their offspring. However, a breed of domestic animals is termed such by common consent of breeders. Therefore, the breeders control what the breed will be. In the past, the Canadien and all other domestic breeds have evolved. In numerous cases, other bloodlines have been introduced, either for various specific reasons or naturally. When that is done by design, it is called "upgrading." In fact, we have two categories of Canadien horse, pure and non-pure.

The Canadien horse is the only breed in Canada for which the breed standards were set and approved by the federal government based on the conformation of the horse over 100 years ago. If we truly want to save the Canadien horse and designate it as a national symbol, these standards should not be changed. Breeders may breed as they wish, but they must not expect to change the qualities of the Canadien horse as set down by the breed standards. If the breed standards are changed to allow upgrading and changes, we will destroy the very entity that we are trying to preserve. In the past, there was rigorous inspection of breeding stock, and only those animals that conformed were allowed to be bred.

Our heritage breeds have a wide genetic diversity. They are a storehouse of genetic attributes. When we breed for certain traits, we may lose some other, very desirable traits, such as the ability to resist disease, to survive on meagre rations and to properly mother their young.

We have many industrialized breeds in Canada. The Holstein cow is a good example. This breed provides 80 per cent of the milk in Canada, but that is accomplished by feeding very high levels of cereal grains and through pricing that favours milk with low milk solids. It is a very specialized market. If this animal should be endangered in some way by disease and we lose it, there will be a tremendous impact on the industry.

If we are to protect these animals, we must maintain the genetic diversity of the minority breeds that have the ability to resist disease and survive in a grass-fed economy rather than a grain-fed one.

Our heritage breeds have the ability to respond to changing markets and environments, to different farming styles, requirements and methods, and to health issues that may evolve.

Finally, I should like to put forward our recommendations. We recommend that you accept the Canadien horse as the national horse of Canada. However, we would like to see the breed's standard included as part of the designation. Without it, the wonderful attributes that have made it what it is could be changed. In the process, we would lose the very characteristics that we cherish.

The Chairman: You raised an interesting subject when you mentioned any association changing or upgrading a species. I am quite familiar with that in the associations that concern themselves with the Maine-Anjou, the Semintal and other breeds. They do exactly that. Do you think there will be unanimous approval of that type of approach? I know where you are coming from.

Mr. Lawrence: As I said, there are people with different agendas. There are people who would like to see a larger Canadien horse, perhaps up to 17 hands. They would like to have a horse that would perform better in the show ring. However, would that be a Canadien? It would be a change in the breed, but it would still be called a "Canadien." However, it would not be the heritage animal that we know.

The Chairman: It is possible for a certain animal to turn out a little differently. However, it is still of that breed. You then say, "That is the kind of animal I want." Therefore, you select and breed that animal up to your herd standards. By so doing, you are changing the breed to some extent, because the animals begin to depict the profile of the animal that you selected. That happens in grains, cattle, horses and so on. I suppose there is no breed in which it does not happen. You are doing the same thing. Yet that horse would be registered as a Canadien horse.

Mr. Lawrence: To give you an example, the Canadian Livestock Records Corporation registers the animals. The breed's standard is set by the association and approved by the CLRC. Depending on the breed association, they may have strict requirements or they may not.

I know for a fact that some breeds of cattle are classified when they are born and before they are registered. Any that do not meet the confirmation are culled. They are not allowed to breed them. With other breeds, the breeders are allowed to do as they please.

I want to make everyone aware that the characteristics of this horse could change over time.

The Chairman: I think we get your point. Of course, it is very evident that, in some cases, the United States has different regulations from Canada. That certainly indicates that there are changes and differences.

Senator Wiebe: To follow up on that line of questioning, is there more than one Canadien breed standard out there today?

Mr. Lawrence: That question would be best put to the breed association. My understanding is that there is a breed standard that we go by today. However, it can be changed by a vote of the members.

Senator Wiebe: Is the breed standard that is used today the same as the one that was passed 100 years ago?

Mr. Lawrence: I believe so. I think there were some minor variations to allow larger horses. However, I stand to be corrected. I believe 15.3 hands was the maximum. Exceptional animals that were larger, such as stallions, for example, would have been allowed. Generally, I think that animals up to 16 hands are allowed. However, there is nothing to say that if there were a consensus, it could not be moved up or down.

Senator Wiebe: If we include the breed standard as part of the designation in the bill, then another piece of legislation would be required in order for any changes to be made.

Mr. Lawrence: That sounds like it, yes.

Senator Wiebe: By so doing, we are tying the hands of the breed association itself. Rather than government dictating the terms, would it not be better for the breed association to do that?

Mr. Lawrence: The government set the original breed standard. I believe that it was legislated. If we want to keep the original horse and prevent it from changing, then we must have some restriction. If it is left to the breed association, it may stay the same, but there will be pressure from some individuals to change it. That is an undoubted truth.

Senator Wiebe: Basically, you are recommending that pressure be put on legislators in the government rather than on the breed association?

Mr. Lawrence: I am saying that if you want the Canadien horse to be the national horse of Canada, and you choose it because of all its wonderful attributes, then you will want to protect those.

Senator Wiebe: However, I may suggest to you that just because it is in legislation, it does not remove the pressure. It just changes where the pressure is directed.

Senator Oliver: There is a breed standard now.

Mr. Lawrence: There is a breed standard, yes.

Senator Wiebe: My next question is more for information purposes than anything else. You mentioned that the Canadien horse has been a foundation stock for a number of other breeds. Do you know offhand what other breeds have used it?

Mr. Lawrence: The Morgan horse, the Tennessee walking horse and the American saddlebred are the three of which I am aware.

Senator Wiebe: I knew there was a reason why I liked the Morgan horse.

The Chairman: I was on the Island of Guernsey, or Jersey, I do not remember which, where it is against the law to have any cow other than a Jersey or a Guernsey.

Senator Tunney: That is the Channel Islands.

The Chairman: That is how far you can carry this idea. I might say that the only cow I want in Canada is the Maine-Anjou black cross.

Senator LaPierre: Tell me about the Newfoundland pony. This might lead me into a hockey-lacrosse situation. Newfoundland entered Confederation in 1949. In that year, we had to re-write the early history of Canada. Can you tell me if the Newfoundland pony was here prior to 1647?

Mr. Lawrence: I cannot give you an exact date, but it has been here for three centuries.

Senator LaPierre: We had better check this out, because we could end up with two national horses, which might please everyone. We would have a national pony, the Newfoundland pony, and a national horse, the Canadien. That would be an entirely Canadian solution.

Senator Fairbairn: Except for the horse breeders.

Mr. Lawrence: We could have a national horse and a national pony.

Senator LaPierre: That is a better solution. Will you propose an amendment to the bill?

Senator Fairbairn: When you talk about the standards, are we not here because it has been important to the breeders and owners of the purebred Canadien horse to keep it that way? Is that not why we are being encouraged by the Horse Breeders' Association to place this horse in a special category?

The breeders that I know would not be seduced into, all of a sudden, modifying the breed so that it could be a bigger horse or a smarter horse in the ring. They want protection for the Canadien horse that they have.

Mr. Lawrence: There are people who would like to change it.

Senator Fairbairn: They would not have a Canadien horse if they changed it.

Mr. Lawrence: That was my point. They would have a Canadien horse if there were consensus to change it. That is to say, if the Horse Breeders' Association membership voted to allow animals of, say, larger than 16 hands to be included, they would be included if it were voted on and approved.

There are many people selling Canadien horses today that barely conform, or do not conform, to the breed standard. They are Canadien horses but they should be culled. They should not be bred. They do not conform to the breed standard.

Senator Oliver: Certainly that is not something for legislation. Surely that is a matter for the breeder.

Mr. Lawrence: I wish to make you aware that it is not as simple as it seems.

Senator Wiebe: Are those horses registered?

Mr. Lawrence: Yes.

The Chairman: The same thing happens with cattle.

Mr. Lawrence: Many breeds are derived from mutant animals. Some say there is value in the mutation. They breed it, upgrade it and form a new breed. This happens regularly with domestic animals.

For all registered animals, there is a classifier who comes to look at those animals and says, "Do they conform to the breed standard?" If he does not pass them, they cannot be registered.

Senator Fairbairn: For clarification, did I misunderstand the previous witnesses who referred to a definition where the purebred Canadien horse standard was there and it was protected and recognized as well? There were mixed breed Canadien horses, but the Canadien horse was the standard horse. That is to say, whatever people wanted to do in mixing, they had a mixed breed Canadien horse, but that is not the Canadien horse that we would be putting into legislation.

Mr. Lawrence: People are free to crossbreed and do what they like. If they crossbreed, they cannot register the animal as a Canadien horse. There are two categories that are registered currently: pure and non-pure registrations. In a non-pure category, as described by Mr. Paquet, mares that conform to the breed standard can be bred with registered stallions, so they could be included as Canadiens. The offspring, as they move up the line and become purer and purer, could be put into the pure category, but they are not introducing any new blood from outside now.

The Chairman: That was evident in the cattle lines. For the longest time, the biggest, highest, heaviest cow you could produce was wanted. It sold best. In the last few years, there has been a move to around 1,100 pounds, and that is the breeding that sells.

Mr. Lawrence: To give you a good example, the Charolais cow 100 years ago was a rare breed. Now it is the breed that is most desired worldwide. It is a very large animal.

Senator Tunney: If there is pure parentage, how can you not give someone a registration to the offspring of that animal? If there are other traits that might work against it being registered as pure, then okay. However, on size, I do not see how you can do it, for this reason: You may register that offspring when it is two years old but it has another two years to grow. Could you register it as pure at two years old and then withdraw the registration at four?

No, sir, you cannot. From my experience in registered animals - dairy cattle, in particular - you cannot deny those that have been registered.

I am sorry, I must leave for another meeting. However, I should like to hear your reaction to that comment.

Mr. Lawrence: In many cases, it is left to the breeder to be responsible not to breed animals that do not conform to the breed standard.

I breed sheep. I have sheep that are registerable, where both parents are purebreds. I look at the offspring and say, "He is not worth anything. I cannot register him." However, I can register him - but that only depletes the quality of the breed. This happens with all breeds that are registered. The breeder has a choice.

The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Lawrence, for your evidence. The committee will give it consideration.

Next is Mr. Lalonde, President of the Upper Canada District Canadian Horse Breeders, and his brother, Gerry.

Mr. Regent Lalonde, President, Upper Canada (Ontario) District Canadian Horse Breeders, UCD: I am Ray Lalonde, President of the Upper Canada (Ontario) District Canadian Horse Breeders.

Before my presentation, I would like to introduce my brother, Gerry Lalonde, one of the directors of Canadian Livestock Records Corporation. He just returned from British Columbia. He travelled through Canada by truck to deliver some Canadian horses. To answer Senator Fairbairn's question of a while ago, there is quite a bit of interchange between breeders in the east and the west of Canada.

I would like to expand on our background. Our grandfather bought a farm in Cumberland on the Ottawa River in 1903. The first and only horses that ever worked on that farm have been Canadian horses. My father bought the farm from my grandfather in 1949 and Gerry and I bought it from our father in 1986.

We are actively involved in breeding Canadian horses and we have approximately 45 of them. We also have a horse carriage business. We hire out carriages for weddings, to the Government of Canada and to the Prime Minister's Office on special occasions. Our carriages are over 100 years old. You have probably seen us in the city on several occasions.

We know something about Canadian horses, both small and tall. We have both at our farm. The buyer of the horse decides whether he or she wants a small or a tall horse.

The Chairman: What is a prize horse worth?

Mr. Regent Lalonde: We have a stallion that is worth $75,000.

The Chairman: I'll take two.

Senator Oliver: How many of your horses are mares?

Mr. Regent Lalonde: Three-quarters are mares. At this time, there is great demand for tall horses. The market dictates what breeders should raise.

Senator Oliver: Is it correct that they cannot exceed 16 hands?

Mr. Regent Lalonde: They can exceed 16 hands. The standard dictates between 14 and 16 hands, but the background on your certificate says that you have a purebred horse. It may be less than 14.2 hands. There is great demand for ponies and 14.2 hands is the limit for ponies in Canada now. Some breeders are concentrating on breeding below 14.2 hands for the pony clubs. Ponies are ridden by young girls and boys aged 15 to 16 who are getting into riding horses.

In response to Senator Fairbairn's question, we are actively involved in artificial insemination of Canadian horses at our farm. We have a laboratory and we ship semen across Canada and the U.S. by various means of transport. This facilitates the mixture of the blood of the Canadian horse.

My comments were prepared in consultation with the board of directors of the Upper Canada (Ontario) District Horse Breeders. I am President of the only district organization in Ontario that is recognized by the national organization that Mr. Paquet represents. I will provide an overview of the background of the Canadian horse and suggest a very small but crucial amendment to the bill.

The breed of horse known as the Canadian horse is an integral part of Canada's history and heritage. The breed is descended from less than 50 horses sent to the colonists of New France in the mid-1600s by the King of France, Louis XIV. These animals were distributed to noblemen and certain farmers in the colony who had shown the greatest initiative in clearing and cultivating their land. From this original stock descended all subsequent Canadian horses without influence from any other breeds for 150 years. Due to natural selection, only the strongest managed to survive the rigours of winter and the many privations experienced in a developing colony to evolve into a breed of horse uniquely acclimatized to Canada.

The Canadian horse was indispensable to the settlers of New France, helping to transport settlers and to clear the land. These horses were the foundation of the economic well-being of New France and later played a similar role in Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

The outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861 stimulated a great demand for the sturdy Canadian horse that was exceptionally well adapted to the rigours of war. Within a few years, the breeding stock was depleted from a high of 150,000 to near extinction. On the 20th day of November, 1905, Mr. Sydney Fisher, the Minister of Agriculture, approved the incorporation of the French Canadian Horse Breeders' Association of Canada. The French version was called "La Société des éleveurs de chevaux canadiens."

Attached to the documents that we have provided is a copy of the Act respecting the Incorporation of Livestock Records Association. This act came into force in 1900 and the incorporation took place in 1905.

The original English version of the application for the incorporation reads as follows:

The objects for which it is formed are to keep a record of the pedigrees of pure bred French Canadian Horses, and to collect, publish and preserve reliable and valuable data concerning the breed.

The original French version reads as follows:

Les buts de la Société est de définir un lit de généalogie pour le cheval canadien pur-sang et de recueillir, conserver et publier des données exactes et dignes de foi sur sa trace chevaline.

I have spent many hours examining all the minutes of the annual meetings since the inception of the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association. I went to the office of Agriculture Canada and went through all the documentation. Throughout these official documents the breed was always called "le cheval canadien" in French and from 1905 to 1935 it was called the "French Canadian horse" in English. In 1935, Dr. Gardner shortened the name to the "Canadian horse" only, and that has been used officially ever since.

From reading Bill S-22, an act to provide for the recognition of the Canadien Horse as the national horse of Canada and, in French - Le projet de loi S-22, la Loi portant reconnaissance du cheval de la race canadienne comme le cheval national du Canada - it has become apparent that the proposed bill does not address the wording used in historical documents relating to this topic. On examining the entire document, it is obvious that the proposed bill does not meet the guidelines set out in the official languages law. Furthermore, it does not keep the spirit and intention of the historical documents in mind.

I strongly suggest that the bill refer to the breed of horse as "the Canadian horse" when addressing English readers and "le cheval canadien" when addressing French readers.

The intention of the bill is to give official recognition to this breed. We would be doing a vast injustice to our forefathers if we did not refer to this breed by the name that has always been used. I recommend a name change in the bill.The words "la race cheval canadienne" are never mentioned in those two official documents of Canada. The French and English minutes of the annual meetings of the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association have never referred to anything but "le cheval canadien" and, from 1905 to 1935, "the French Canadian horse" and, from 1935 until now, "the Canadian horse."

Gerry can comment on the feedback he got from western Canadians.

Mr. Gerry Lalonde, Director, Canadian Livestock Record Corporation: Mr. Chairman, I recently returned from a tour of western Canada where I met with quite a few breeders.

They had a district meeting, which I was invited to attend on Thanksgiving. They are very proud and pleased that such a bill is coming forward, except, as my brother mentioned, with regard to the naming of the horse. They are very upset about that. Later this week you will have representation from British Columbia. They are very upset at the name change.

As I mentioned earlier, right through the Western provinces, le cheval canadien and the Canadian horse should be in this new bill. I received that very strong message. I had an opportunity to discuss all kinds of other issues, but that issue always came up since it was within a week of our being allowed to come before this committee.

The Chairman: For clarification, are you saying that if it is written in the French language to say the French Canadian horse...

Mr. Gerry Lalonde: They are saying, Mr. Chairman, to leave it as is. Leave what it is now, as recognized in all the bills, but change your bill. Leave it the way it is written in the statute. Your bill, Bill S-22, should read as the Canadian horse, for the English reader, and le cheval canadien for the French reader.

The Chairman: That is what I was asking. I did not make that clear.

Mr. Gerry Lalonde: This is the clear voice I have received across this beautiful country.

Senator Wiebe: To follow up on that, is there any Canadian Horse Breeders' Association in Canada that uses a spelling other than Canadian, "d-i-a-n"?

Mr. Gerry Lalonde: If there is, they are not recognized by the national association. We have a Constitution. There are a few groups in this country that have taken off on their own and that is fine, but they are not recognized. We represent the breed that is recognized and sanctioned by the federal government.

Senator Wiebe: How is it spelled on the registration papers that are issued?

Mr. Gerry Lalonde: They are right here. It is exactly the way we are suggesting.

Mr. Regent Lalonde: "Canadian" in English.

Senator Wiebe: Is it spelled "d-i-a-n"?

Mr. Regent Lalonde: Yes. They have the bilingual format, French on the left side and English on the right side. All the official documents are so represented.

Senator Wiebe: Speaking for myself, I have no problem with that, but we will be hearing a presentation by the senator who moved the particular bill. We will have to wait and find out his reasoning behind the spelling of that particular bill.

Mr. Regent Lalonde: In answer to your question, I did send Mr. Daniel Charbonneau a letter of concern. He addressed this very issue with Senator Murray, I believe, who agreed that the name should be changed. However, this is an aside.

Senator Wiebe: So far, you are the third presenter today and no one has opposed the change.

Mr. Regent Lalonde: That is possibly because of our background. We are French and English. When people in the West have correspondence or questions, they usually call Gerry or myself, because of the language involved. The westerners cannot always get definite answers from the association in Quebec. We are the people who receive the complaints.

Senator Wiebe: Are all of the Canadian horse breeders throughout Canada, who have horses that carry that registration certificate, members of the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association? Is that the same as your association?

Mr. Regent Lalonde: The national one, yes. They have to be members to register horses.

Senator Fairbairn: My only question would be, is this a view that would be as well supported by the members of your association, the larger association in Quebec? Would they have any problem with this, if this is the correct original?

Mr. Regent Lalonde: I do not know which way the other associations are. I know the B.C. association is in favour of what we are suggesting. Some individuals would love to see "Canadien" used in both versions, but I think the intention of the bill is to reflect the historical background of la cheval canadien. Therefore, I cannot see why the bill was drafted - and I am not questioning that - when la race chevaline canadienne was never mentioned.

Senator Fairbairn: This gentleman might be able to say what the view is from the national association.


Mr. Paquet: Mr. Chairman, as I indicated earlier, there is a slight problem. We have received calls from members from a number of provinces informing us that they do not quite agree with Bill S-22. If you look at the documents, you will note a reference to breed standards. If you check in both the French and English versions, you will note that the expression used by the association to please everyone is "Canadian horse" in English, and "cheval canadien", in French. These terms were accepted in 1915 when the constitution of the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association was reviewed. These were the two agreed-upon expressions. Currently, we are facing a dilemma in that the Quebec group is not recognized by the national association. I wanted to point this out because the Quebec group will likely be appearing before the committee next week, They do not meet the standards to be recognized in Quebec. For example, if there are 434 members in Quebec, at least 218, or 50 per cent, must meet the association's standards in order to speak on behalf of Quebec.

I know that several organizations have asked to testify. The Canadian Association has no objections. The fact remains that the owner of a Canadian horse must be in possession of a registration certificate and must be able to prove that the horse is indeed a Canadian horse.

According to the association's standards, the ideal Canadian horse should stand between 15 and 16 hands. This has been generally suggested. However, we cannot prevent someone from buying a Canadian horse, regardless of size. The decision to acquire the horse rests with the buyer.

Getting back to the Quebec association that will be testifying next week, I believe it represents a club, and not the Quebec District. This group is free to come and express its views, but it cannot speak for the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association.


Senator Fairbairn: Does your national association have strong membership in the Province of Quebec?


Mr. Paquet: Currently we have 434 members in Quebec. This figure accounts for nearly half of all members nationwide.


Mr. Gerry Lalonde: In support of what Mr. Paquet has said, a group from Ontario will make a presentation to you, but it is only a club with Canadian horses. It is not sanctioned by the national association and it is not part of the Upper Canada (Ontario) District. It is trying to promote Canadian horses in the way it deems fit.

Senator Wiebe: Do you know how large its membership is Canada-wide?

Mr. Gerry Lalonde: It is a small group in Ontario.

Mr. Paquet may be in a better position to tell you the numbers in Quebec.


Mr. Paquet: At present, they have exactly 50 members who meet the association's standards. One contentious issue is the size of the horses. Another Quebec group, the Regroupement des éleveurs et des propriétaires de chevaux canadiens du Québec, has asked to appear before the committee. They will likely be submitting a brief. They boast 286 members. The basic requirement is 217 plus one. Therefore, we have no choice but to recognize this organization in principle because it represents the majority of members in Quebec.


Senator Wiebe: In order to register horses as purebred, do members have to register through your organization?


Mr. Paquet: Yes, they must purchase a membership. If you own a Canadian horse, automatically you must be a member of the national association. To our minds, the important thing is for the district to represent and speak for the majority of members. That is the democratic way. For example, a small group representing only 10 per cent of the 434 breeders, or 43 members, cannot pretend to speak for the Quebec district. To avoid any confusion, we insist that each organization represent 50 per cent plus one of the members within its own district, in keeping with the rules of the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association.


Senator Wiebe: Can we safely assume that 50 per cent plus one of all Canadian horse breeders in each province belong to your association?


Mr. Paquet: All members belong to the national association. However, one small group does not share our views about the Canadian horse. Some prefer to see a smaller, or a larger horse. The Association recognizes both large and small horses. Regardless of its height or size, the Canadian horse is one clearly recognized by the National Registration Board as the Canadian horse. It is impossible to take a horse that stands 15.22 hands and breed it with a stallion that stands 15 hands and as a result, get a horse that stands 16 hands. Oats and other kinds of feed have altered many of the horse's traits. Today, the Canadian horse is viewed in a much better light than it was a number of years ago and opportunities for refining the breed's traits have increased.

I want to assure all members of the Canadian Horse Breeders' Association that horses standing 14 hands will command the same respect as horses standing from 16 hands. That is the current position of the national association.


Senator Wiebe: Has your association approached the RCMP to indicate that it should use the Canadian horse in the musical ride?

Mr. Regent Lalonde: We have.

Senator Wiebe: I hope you continue to lobby.


Mr. Paquet: On that same subject, Canada presented Queen Elizabeth with a horse. We would have liked it to be a gift of a Canadian horse. We questioned the RCMP about this, but did not receive an answer.


The Chairman: Thank you for appearing here this evening. This has been very interesting. We will be hearing from other witnesses and I believe this will be easier than I thought.

Mr. Regent Lalonde: If any senators are interested in visiting our farm, we are 20 minutes east of here on Highway 17. It would be a great pleasure to show you around.

The committee adjourned.

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