Brian Murphy recently sought to position himself as a staunch defender of animal rights. While doing so however, he has been speaking out of both sides of his mouth.
Evoking Mahatma Ghandi, he wrote a letter to the Times & Transcript in which he called for giving prosecutors and police “the necessary resources to investigate and make charges stick and deterrent necessary to cause people to reconsider their actions.” He further said that “the Government of Canada must act to ensure that laws are strengthened to provide that necessary deterrent to prevent crimes against animals or to properly punish those who continue to think this type of behaviour is okay.” That sure sounds like he is ready to get tough on crime.
In a separate letter a short time later, MP Murphy insisted that the government must not “allow animal abusers to get off without adequate punishment.” He also added that they must “ensure that those who abuse animals are swiftly and properly punished.” Yes, this is our Liberal MP calling for stiffer sentences and harsher punishment as a deterrent from crimes against animals.
At odds with his recent vigorous stance against animal crime however are his past comments on human crime. Here are a few quotes from MP Murphy when he was stonewalling Conservative efforts to get tough on violent crime:
“Many if not all studies have shown that there is no link between more severe, longer and harsher sentences and the diminution of crime rates.” Source
“being tougher on the books on crime does not deter crime” Source
“Harsher punishments and reverse onus in bail hearings, as Bill C-35 proposes …will not help prevent crime or make Canada and our communities any safer” Source
“studies that on the whole suggest that the deterrent effect of increased mandatory minimums is not there” Source (on C-10 Mandatory minimums for gun crimes)
Of Conservatives: “They are not making the communities safer by locking everyone up. We ought to really take a non-partisan moment and say that if there is proof that these things work, show us.” Source
“In fact, by cutting conditional sentences, sending more convicted individuals to …our jails, …by putting longer sentences in place …by cutting preventive and rehabilitation programs, we have no reason to think the crime rate is going to go down in Canada.” Source
- “Conditional sentencing is one important aspect of sentencing. This type of sentence plays a major role in the rehabilitation and social reintegration of offenders.” Source
When defending serious, violent repeat offenders and those who use guns in the commission of crime against people, Brian Murphy called for leniency, conditional sentences and an emphasis on rehabilitation. Now that he seeks to curry favour with animal rights activists, he is calling for increased penalties (longer jail time) and harsher punishment as a “deterrent to prevent crimes against animals.”
Why the double standard? Does he believe that harsher penalties act as a deterrent or doesn’t he? Is he suggesting that crimes against animals are somehow more heinous than those perpetrated against human beings?
That is not the least of what leads to confusion about his true stance on animal rights. In his statements referenced above, he at once trumpets Bill C-229 (a private member’s bill introduced by his Liberal buddy, Mark Holland) and at the same time demeans a recent animal rights bill that actually passed into law last year. Of Mr. Holland’s bill he says it “ought to be looked at seriously and passed.” Of Bill S-203 (by Liberal Senator, John Bryden) Brian Murphy says it “was a good start but doesn’t go far enough.”
Of course MP Murphy doesn’t miss an opportunity for partisanship, calling on the Conservatives to introduce Mr. Holland’s private member’s bill as government legislation but saying “the Conservative government has given no indication they will support this.”
The idea of course is to portray the “meanie Conservatives” as not caring and against protection for animals. The fact is that there were two votes required in the House of Commons to pass the Senate animal rights bill (S-203) into law. At both of those votes, Brian Murphy voted YEA along with virtually the entire Conservative caucus!
While every Conservative MP voted to pass the new legislation protecting animals, more than 28 Liberal MP’s voted against it! Those who voted NAY at both votes include: Mark Holland, Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae, Martha Hall-Findlay, Irwin Cotler and a host of other prominent Liberals.
Clearly the Conservatives DID support animal rights while many Liberals DID NOT (including the sponsor of Bill C-229, Mark Holland). Bill S-203 passed by a wide margin (189/70) because it was reasonable legislation. It invokes protection against:killing, maiming, wounding, poisoning, injuring, causing unnecessary pain or suffering, fighting, baiting, administering injurious substances, shooting, or neglecting the care and safe conveyance of” animals. Bill S-203 increased the penalties for animal abuse to as much as 5 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. It also provides for an “order of prohibition” which disallows those found guilty from even being on the same premises as animals.
With all of this in mind, MP Brian Murphy says Bill S-203 “doesn’t go far enough.” What exactly is it that makes our MP think that Mark Holland’s bill (C-229) is in any way superior?
A bit of research via the Parliament’s Legisinfo reveals the vast deficiencies of Mr. Holland’s bill. First of all, it is a re-introduction of failed legislation dating back to the Liberal majorities of Jean Chretien. It was first introduced as Bill C-10 by Martin Cauchon in October 2002. In its original iteration, it contained the words “any other animal that has a capacity to feel pain” (i.e. a satient being). That phrase was stripped out of subsequent reintroductions of the bill which showed up as C-22 (Irwin Cotler, March 2004), C-50 (Irwin Cotler, May 2005), C-373 (Mark Holland, October 2006), C-373 (Mark Holland, October 2007) and C-229 (Mark Holland, January 2009).
Despite repeated failure of this legislation under the Liberal governments of Chretien and Martin, Brian Murphy wants the Conservatives to adopt it as their own. What exactly are the differences between Bill S-203 (which was passed) and Bill C-229?
- There are no increases to penalties. The maximums are still 5 years in prison or a fine of $10,000. Mark Holland’s bill does nothing to make penalties longer and more harsh and does not serve as a greater deterrent.
- MP Holland’s bill does not include language addessing all sentient beings, but rather defines animals as “all vertebrates” (thus excluding 98% of the animal kingdom from this legislation!).
- By expanding the definition from primarily domestic animals to all vertebrates wild and domestic, Bill C-229 encompasses all fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals. That is why Brian Murphy grudgingly admitted that “there is concern that the changes proposed could cause problems for hunters, fishermen or those in farming.”
- Bill C-229 would criminalize hunters (particularly bowhunters), fishermen (recreational and domestic) and of course eliminate Canada’s seal hunt. On the other hand, it would do nothing to protect spiders commonly sold in pet stores from having their legs pulled off by twisted miscreants.
- Bill C-229 states that it is illegal to kill an animal “regardless of whether the animal dies immediately.” No hunting and what are the implications for slaughterhouses and chicken farms?
- Bill C-229 states that it is illegal to “place poison in such a position that it may easily be consumed by an animal.” There is no exclusive provision made for exterminators or homeowners who seek to battle infestation of rats and mice. This would make a simple mouse trap a criminal weapon!
- Bill C-229 also criminalizes anyone who “negligently causes unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal.” While this sounds innocuous on the surface, it raises serious questions about pet owners who choose not to engage expensive surgeries for dogs and cats. Simply allowing nature to take its course may no longer be an option.
Given these problems, it is no wonder Bill C-229 (aka C-10, C-22, C-50, C-373) never made it past first base even under Liberal majorities! It is simply weak and nebulous legislation which does nothing to increase penalties or the “deterrence” factor against animal cruelty. Nevertheless, MP Brian Murphy says it “ought to be looked at seriously and passed.”
Why would a well-educated lawyer justify coddling the “animals” who brazenly attack other human beings with guns, while demanding harsh and lengthy sentences for those who hook a big salmon or hang a trophy buck on the wall? It makes no more sense than demeaning legislation that garnered widespread support and increased penalties (S-203); while promoting a rehash of failed proposals that didn’t make it past first base under Liberal majority governments.
What’s next, being sued for mental cruelty for insisting that Fido wear a collar and leash?