V. Victoria Shroff: If you were a Canadian animal, who would you vote for in the federal election?

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      By V. Victoria Shroff

      Pretend for a moment that you're an animal. Now, pretend that you were allowed to vote in the October 21 Canadian federal election.

      Which party would you choose to best represent your needs and interests, to protect you? How do the parties stack up vis-à-vis animal policies? Would the leaders' own pets vote for them?

      I've taken a snapshot look at the four major parties jockeying for the PM position in the fast approaching October 21 election and it looks like none of them has animals as top priorities in their platforms. Here's my take on the big four parties, their pets, and their platforms.

      The Liberals have announced that their top three priorities this election centre around more money for middle-class Canadians, stronger gun control, and action on the climate crisis. The problem with the Liberals is that they approved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which is definitely not animal-friendly.  It would cause loss of habitat to countless species and decimate local flora, fauna, and communities where the pipe is laid down, so the Liberals don't appear to be pals of animals.

      However, I was very pleased with the Liberals this past spring when, to their major credit, they brought in three very important pieces of animal-friendly legislation regarding closing bestiality and animal-fighting loopholes in the Criminal Code, keeping cetaceans in captivity, and banning importing and exporting shark fins. 

      The Liberals have also succeeded in meeting some of their Aichi Biodiversity targets: i.e. protection for some 17 percent of terrestrial areas and 10 percent of oceans by next year. Justin Trudeau's family adopted Kenzie, a Portuguese water dog, in 2016. Trivia sidebar: Justin's famous father, Pierre E. Trudeau (whose initials spell out PET), had water dog crosses named Fiona and Farley given to him by Canadian author Farley Mowat. 

      Would Kenzie vote for Mr. Trudeau? I think Kenzie may still be sitting on the fence, but he could be persuaded.

      Andrew Scheer tweeted this photo of his family with Ray, which is short for "Raymore", which is a swimming pool loved the kids.
      Andrew Scheer

      The Conservative party has promised to protect fisheries and forests by addressing what it classifies as invasive species. But, the Conservative are pretty clear that economics is Number 1 and would outweigh environmental or animal-protection concerns anytime. Its Aichi targets for 2020 appear to echo the Liberals targets.

      To their credit, the Conservatives supported the ushering in of the Liberal fisheries bill in the spring of 2019, with one of the chief targets of the new Fisheries Act  being to better protect oceanic habitat. I think four-legged individuals would probably not be well served by the Conservatives overall, as their policies involving animals fall under the category of an afterthought. 

      Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer adopted a Golden Retriever puppy named Ray. Can't fault him on his choice of dog, but he was apparently named after an outdoor swimming pool. It's doubtful that Ray would vote Conservative.

      The Green party have made some election promises relating to animals including to: "Adopt animal welfare legislation to prevent inhumane treatment of farm animals including in intensive factory farming operations."

      The Greens plan to set minimum standards of treatment for, and gradually phase out, factory farming and other "...inhumane animal husbandry practices".

      Trophy hunting would come to an end, but Greens would continue to support Indigenous subsistence hunting. Scientists, not bureaucrats, would carry out the Species at Risk Act while the party would also put more money into helping endangered wildlife.

      Green Leader Elizabeth May has a little doggo called Xiomara, who is apparently an avid campaigner. (If you're curious about the name, it means battle ready—I checked.)  As a political animal, I think Xiomara would likely vote for Ms.May.

      Elizabeth May shows off Xiomara.
      Elizabeth May

      The NDP has a fulsome environmental platform and animal protection appears to be part and parcel of its environmental promises. The NDP plan to increase the Aichi targets to protect 30 percent of land, oceans, and fresh water by 2030.

      New Democrats have created its own environmental conservation plan via their Environmental Bill of Rights, which would ensure meeting some basic needs like clean water and air for all. The party claims that it will protect animals via the Species At Risk Act, using the legislation the way it is drafted without further need for amendment. 

      Their plans seem somewhat ambitious and expensive, but laudable. I could not find evidence of Jagmeet Singh having a family pet. 

      If Mr. Singh is indeed pet-free, I suggest it may be a good plan for him to adopt or rescue one or two.

      Bear in mind that pre-election political promises are often not worth the paper they're printed on. But based on the above, if you were a Canadian animal, how would you vote on October 21? 

      If you're still not sure after reading this, please ask your family pet for guidance.

      V. Victoria Shroff is credited as one of the first and longest-serving animal-law lawyers in Canada. She has been practising animal law for almost 20 years in Vancouver at Shroff and Associates and is also adjunct professor of animal law at UBC's Allard School of Law. She has been recognized for her work in animal law, was a finalist nominee for Canadian Lawyer's top 25 in 2018 and 2019, and is frequently interviewed about animal matters in the media. She has lectured in animal law locally, in the U.S., and in Asia, and she also regularly contributes animal-law articles for legal and pet publications. She also founded an animal-law program called Paws of Empathy, which she teaches with a dog or two. Contact her at www.shroffanimallaw.com, Twitter @shroffanimallaw, at LinkedIn, or at https://experts.news.ubc.ca/expert/victoria-shroff/.