The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs

From: Gerald Chipeur



Violations of the Canadian Bill of Rights



1.         The Canadian Bill of Rights guarantees the right to property in section 1(a).   

2.         Section 1(a) of the Bill of Rights recognizes "the right of the individual to life, liberty and security of the person and enjoyment of property, and the right not to be deprived thereof except by due process of law."           

3.         Section 182.2 violates the guarantee of the right to property in section 1(a) of the Canadian Bill of Rights.  

4.         Under the common law, domestic animals may be owned as personal property by individuals.   

5.         Furthermore, wild animals may be owned as personal property if they are encaged and potentially even if the animals escape(see section 322(5) of the Criminal Code).   

6.         In the various subsections of Section 182.2(1) the right to property is violated in a manner inconsistent with the Canadian Bill of Rights:                 


      Section 182.2(1)(a) 

·        fishing in fish farms and other encaged environments may be prohibited; 

·        in particular, fly fishing and other forms of fishing in which the fish is returned to the water alive may be prohibited, as such action causes unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to a fish; 

·        all rodeos may be prohibited under this section, as steer wrestling, bronc and bull riding and many other rodeo events are not necessary; 

·        dog and cat shows may no longer be permissible in Canada, as the dogs and cats in the shows may be injured or may suffer as part of the process of preparing the animals to be show animals; 

·        in each of the above-noted examples, the property rights of the owners of the animals are limited in a manner inconsistent with the property rights guaranteed in the Canadian Bill of Rights.


Section 182(1)(c) 

·        currently, domestic animals and captive wild animals may, under the common law, be killed for any reason or no reason at all (see also section 446 of the Criminal Code); 

·        the right to kill the animals referred to above is one of the rights of ownership at common law; 

·        subsection 182(1)(c) places an onus on the owner of an animal to prove that there was or is an excuse for the death of the animal the owner may kill; 

·        subsection 182(1)(c) is either a complete or nearly complete prohibition on the killing of an animal, or it is no prohibition at all; 

·        if lawful excuse means legal permission, then a hunting license will be required and while this may authorize the killing of wild animals, there are, however, no licences for the killing of domestic animals; 

·        if lawful excuse means that there must be a reason that is not illegal, then any killing, even killing which does not result in a trophy, food or other utilitarian product will be legal, as killing an animal for the sake of human pleasure is not prohibited under law (some fishing and some bird hunting would fall into the "pleasure" category).                       

7.         Removal of the "cruelty to animals" rules from Part XI - Wilful and Forbidden Acts (Property) is an indication that the drafters are trying to grant to animals a status other than "property."  If that is Parliament's intention, then one cannot complain under the Bill of Rights.  However, it is not altogether clear why Parliament would take this backward approach to addressing a significant question of civil law, a question that is otherwise within the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces under section 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867.  This step to strip Canadians of their ownership interest in animals may in and of itself be a violation of section 1(a) of the Bill of Rights.  

8.         The deletion of the requirement of "wilfulness" and the addition of the prohibition on killing "without lawful excuse" are two amendments which will have the most far reaching unintended consequences.  Some of the unintended consequences are outlined below. 

9.         Furthermore, the definition of animal is unduly broad.  Canadians will indeed be shocked to learn that mice, rats, garden moles, gophers, suckers, minnows, goldfish and other rodents and vermin are included in the provisions of section 182.2.  They will indeed be surprised to learn that if they eat a goldfish as a stunt instead of for food they will be liable to imprisonment for five years. 

10.       In rat-free Alberta, shooting rats at the border may no longer be tolerated. 

11.       The farm kids shooting gophers for fun may unwittingly be branded as criminals.  The same thing may apply to those shooting magpies and crows.  Only those smart enough to remember that they are "protecting" the farm grain stocks will go free. 

12.       Negligent action under section 182.3 exposes an individual to two years in jail or to a fine of up to$5,000.00.  Negligent action prohibited under section 182.3(1)(a) may include the use of a hook rather than a net to catch captive fish.  It could also include the negligent chuck wagon driver who kills a horse because of a marked departure from the standard of care that a reasonable person would use. 

13.       Section 182.3(1)(b) may be violated by the mother who forgets to feed the goldfish for her child, while the child is away at summer camp. 

14.       Section 182.3(1)(c) would make it a criminal offence to negligently injure the family cat in a car accident.  This seems unreasonable, when to negligently injure or kill the family is not prohibited or penalized under federal law.

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