Victoria Shroff: Put animals on the agenda in the upcoming B.C. election
B.C. prides itself on being "super, natural", thanks in large part to our animals. Animals matter more than tourism slogans; they also matter in the upcoming election.
Though they can't vote, animals should have a voice in the upcoming B.C. provincial election. As an animal-law lawyer and adjunct professor of animal law, I believe that wild- and domestic-animal issues should be on the political agenda because making the lives of companion animals better and ensuring dedicated laws for wildlife and habitat is essential for everyone.
During the last federal election, I wrote in the Georgia Straight: "If you were a Canadian animal, who would you vote for in the federal election?" B.C.'s official bird is the blue-and-black Steller's jay (Cyanacitta stelleri). If the cheeky Stellar's jays could vote in the upcoming election, I am quite certain that they'd flock toward a pro-animal party.
My questions on behalf of the Stellar's jay and other B.C. animals are as follows: NDP, Green, and Liberal candidates, will you please let citizens know how animals matter to your party during this election? Will they be accounted for in provincial laws to make their lives better? How will those laws be enforced?
It would be useful to see where the parties vying for election stand in relation to animal issues. Climate change and housing are keystone issues, but what about keystone animals and wildlife protection?
When I refer to animals, I don't mean only cats and dogs but also B.C.'s "super, natural" wildlife. It's antiquated, but, legally speaking, animals are classified as property. Under the Constitution, laws relating to personal property, including animals, are the jurisdiction of provincial legislatures.
How we treat animals is a yardstick for how we're doing as a province, and a country. Covid-19 has proven that the sociopolitical health of humans is intertwined with animals. My career as an animal lawyer spanning more than 20 years has made it clear to me that vulnerable animals need a voice, even if they can't vote.
Political parties could outline what their policies are when it comes to our animals so voters will be able to cast their ballots knowing where parties stand in relation to conservation, dangerous-dog legislation, euthanasia, use of force against or the killing of animals, hunting, and access to justice involving animals.
These and many more issues are within the provincial purview and important to the electorate, not just to animal lovers.