One of our supporters has received a very positive response from their MP. Irwin Cotler, PC, OC, MP is the Member of Parliament for Mount Royal. He served as the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada from 2003 – 2006. Please read his response to his constituent below.
Subject: RE: Please regulate the horse slaughter industry
Date: 20 March, 2014 2:19:49 PM EDT
To: Name Redacted
Dear Ms. xxxxxxxxxxx,
Thank you for your letter to Professor Cotler in support of Bill C-571, “An Act to Amend the Meat Inspection Act and the Safe Food for Canadians Act (slaughter of equines for human consumption)”.
Professor Cotler and the Liberal Party of Canada share your concerns about the integrity of Canada’s food supply. We support Bill C-571 in its current form, which will help to keep contaminated horse meat out of the food supply by prohibiting the inter-provincial transport of horses for slaughter – and horsemeat products derived therefrom – for the purpose of human consumption.
In particular, this Bill recognizes that horses are not ordinarily raised primarily for the purpose of consumption and therefore often contain prohibited substances that pose a serious risk to the health of Canadians. Many of these highly toxic substances pose such a severe danger to human health that they are prohibited from being used even once in a “food animal’s” lifetime.
Indeed, dangerous drugs – including Phenylbutazone – have been shown to be present in horse meat that has made it through the slaughter system in Canada.
Regulating the horse slaughter industry is further complicated by the seriously inadequate screening period for horses being sold for slaughter. Currently, the Equine Information Document [EID] – which is required for any animal to be presented for slaughter – requires only a 6 month drug history and operates on the honour system. It requires the seller of the animal to certify only that that “to the best of [his / her] knowledge prohibited drugs have never been administered”. As such, a seller who has only possessed a horse for a short period of time can properly provide the required guarantee “to the best of [his / her] knowledge” without having any actual knowledge regarding the animal’s lifetime drug history, or even as regards the previous six months.
Moreover, the integrity of our own food supply is an issue that has global consequences. Indeed, more than 85% of the meat derived from the more than 71 000 horses slaughtered in Canada last year was exported to the European Union. The significant danger to human health posed by Canada’s insufficient regulations in this regard has prompted the EU to ask Canada to implement a new plan.
Professor Cotler and the Liberal Party of Canada agree that the time is now to implement a straightforward and common sense solution to the problem of contaminated horsemeat so that consumers in Canada and abroad can have confidence in the quality of Canadian meat products. We hope that Bill C-571 will be rigorously debated in the House and Professor Cotler will vote in favour of sending the Bill in its current form to Committee for further study.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to Professor Cotler with any other questions, comments, or concerns.
Very truly yours,
Office of the Hon. Irwin Cotler, P.C., O.C. | Bureau de l’hon. Irwin Cotler, C.P., O.C.
M.P. for Mount Royal | Député de Mont-Royal Telephone | Téléphone 613-995-0121 Facsimile | Télécopieur 613-992-6762 Email | Courriel firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: March 5, 2014 2:54 PM
To: Cotler, Irwin – M.P.
Cc: Prime Minister’s Office; Ritz, Gerry – M.P.; Allen, Malcolm – M.P.; Eyking, Mark – M.P.; Trudeau, Justin – Député; Mulcair, Thomas – Député
Subject: Please regulate the horse slaughter industry
Hon. Irwin Cotler MP
Mount Royal, Quebec
House of Commons
Ottawa Ontario K1A0A6
Dear Mr. Cotler,
As one of your constituents, I am writing to ask you to support Private Member’s Bill C-571, put forward by MP Alex Atamanenko, as well as to ensure that stringent regulations supplement this Bill. These measures are necessary to ensure that Canadians and consumers abroad are not ingesting meat from horses that have been treated with banned substances.
Horses sent to slaughter come from various backgrounds and because they are not ordinarily raised for human consumption, they often receive medications that are banned from the food chain. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) cannot currently guarantee banned substances are not present in the horse meat we are producing for consumption by Canadians and people abroad. A medical record, carefully monitored by veterinarians and documenting all substances administered to a horse over his lifetime, must be mandatory for every horse slaughtered in Canada. This measure will help ensure that horses which have been administered prohibited substances cannot enter the food chain. I am asking you to please vote to support Bill C-571 and make sure that steps are taken to properly enforce this bill.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Office of the Prime Minister
Ottawa Ontario K1A 0A2
Mr. Gerry Ritz
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada email@example.com
Mr. Malcolm Allen
NDP Agriculture Critic
Liberal Agriculture Critic