November 18, 2008 – Critics are worried that changes to Ontario's animal cruelty laws will give too much unchecked power to protection agencies and cause problems for farmers trying to do their jobs.
Under a bill passed by the Ontario legislature today, people who abuse animals will face jail, stiffer fines and a lifetime ban on animal ownership.
The act also creates exemptions for wildlife, agriculture and veterinary practices.
But Conservative Randy Hillier says the bill gives police powers to animal welfare officers with no oversight or accountability, and he's worried that will lead to abuses as well as problems for farmers.
Former Conservative Bill Murdoch, now sitting as an Independent, says he's not comforted by the exclusion of standard farm practices from the Animal Protection Act.
He says city people don't always understand what farm practices entail – and an animal welfare officer with two weeks of training won't necessarily be able to tell the difference.
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