NDP Agriculture Critic, MP Malcolm Allen, lost a lot of credibility on March 31/14 during a House debate on Bill C-571.
Except, of course, amongst Conservatives. That party is teeming with Mindless Minions who seem to tremble in fear at upsetting the status quo. What stares them in the face, even if it’s a serious risk to human health, is small potatoes compared to the repercussions to be faced from not towing the party line. There are, after all, some pretty big manure-stompin’ boots up at the top.
MP Allen has more guts than the average Conservative, though. He went with the majority – but wait. Allen is NDP, and he sided with the Conservatives. Good move, Malcolm. There’s power even in Minion numbers. (Are you thinking about changing parties any time soon, by the way?)
During the meeting, MP Allen used the same tired arguments we have heard for years from those who benefit from the slaughter of horses. His attempt to trash MP Alex Atamanenko’s Bill C-571 during the House debate was transparently pro-equine-slaughter. He quoted the discredited GAO report in an effort to block legislation – a trick used recently by none other than Equine Canada. Yes, the same equine industry group whose claim to fame is to be “the governing body for all equine and equestrian sporting and recreational activities and interests (except racing) in Canada.” This illustrious organization has recently sent their notice of non-support of Bill C-571 to all Members of Parliament. Strangely, at the time of this writing, they appear to have stopped short of sharing the same information with their national membership. Wonder why? Is it possible that at least some of those members are anti-slaughter? It would be a shame to lose them as paying supporters.
Here are some debate gems from MP Malcolm Allen, with CHDC responses:
MA: There are some folks who may not be complying, and at the end of the day the authorities and the regulatory bodies are supposed to make sure they catch them. They are supposed to look at the industry to make sure that it does not happen.
CHDC: It’s so reassuring to hear that the regulatory bodies are “supposed to” catch the bad guys. But what if evidence repeatedly proves that they don’t? Backstreet Bully, Silky Shark, and numerous other horses had been administered phenylbutazone, a lifetime-prohibited drug, yet they were slaughtered for human consumption because the system failed. “Supposed to” doesn’t cut it, pal.
MA: The general accounting office in the U.S. did a study in the last while that examined horse welfare across country from the time the slaughterhouses closed until now. The study came to the conclusion that it has gone into decline. There are more horses being abandoned. There are more horses that are simply mistreated and are not being fed as much.
CHDC: Have you been drinking too much pro-slaughter Koolaid, Malcolm? We’ve heard this argument repeatedly, always from people who have their fingers in the equine-slaughter-pie. Instead of blindly believing their rhetoric, though, do your homework and try to think with your own mind. You can start by reading this eye-opening report. And contact the CHDC if you want further references.
MA: The proponents of the bill, those who defend it, are saying it is a health and safety concern. There is no question that legislation is in place already about health and safety concerns.
CHDC: So why is it that so many horses with a positive phenylbutazone history are slipping through the cracks? The legislation is sure doing a great job, isn’t it, Malcolm?
MA: The Canadian equine association is the major umbrella group for horse owners, whether their horses are shown in an arena jumping or used for commercial purposes or for horse racing. The Canadian equine association opposes the bill, and I think correctly so. It does not believe that it enhances the value of existing legislation for food safety. It does not believe that the welfare of horses in Canada will improve, and it thinks there are serious implications for Canadian horse owners who move horses interprovincially. Clearly, the group that is engaged with horse owners and the horse industry across Canada is saying that this is not a helpful bill.
CHDC: What’s the real reason behind a refusal to support a bill that would essentially prohibit animals who have not been raised for food from entering the food chain? Could it be that horse slaughter is a convenient end-of-life option for those who don’t want to be responsible and do the right thing? In this case, for some people, maybe it’s just so right to do the wrong thing. They can use a horse, bute him when he’s lame, and sell him “drug-free” to slaughter when his time is up. What’s not to like about this plan? They end up with cash in hand. Who cares if someone in Europe (or even Quebec) eats him and gets sick? The CFIA is supposed to test for drugs, right? Too bad that this animal might be in the 99.58% of horse flesh that doesn’t get random-tested. Life goes on.
MA: Yes, we can always do better with inspections to make sure that horses in auction houses have correct documentation that is lined up properly so that the CFIA and inspectors can ensure that we do not get another story like the one we saw in the paper, because they are always the one-offs. Thousands of horses go through the system. There is always a one-off, such as a horse being purchased only 24 hours or two or three days earlier, when the owner has attested to a six-month certificate. When those folks are found out, their licences have to be removed. If they are caught egregiously breaking the law and the rules, they have to be dealt with. There are things in place to make sure that actually happens.
CHDC: Yes, you bet your Stetson we can do better, Malcolm. A lot better. You can do better and stop the white-washing efforts. Those horses you call “one-offs” happen along more often than you care to admit – according to what we’ve seen in actual practice. Only .42% of horses entering the slaughter pipeline are randomly checked for drug residue. Did you watch the excellent Global 16X9 broadcast, by any chance, which clearly illustrated how the laws and rules can be circumvented? Industry people admitting that food safety is being compromised? Crap happens, Malcolm. How sad for those at the receiving end of bute-positive horsemeat. Maybe some four-year-old in Montreal, or a pregnant single mom in Brussels. Tell them that the toxic meat they consumed was a one-off.
MA: Therefore the majority of horses that have been used in some sort of commercial activity or recreational activity would be abandoned over time, because folks would say that they do not want that horse anymore. If no one wanted to buy it, they would abandon it.
CHDC: Let’s use logic here, Malcolm. Even with the availability of slaughter at this time, some horses are still abandoned, abused and neglected. Hay prices and the availability of hay have an effect on that situation. But keep in mind that abandonment of an animal is a federal offense. As you like to point out, there are laws that cover violations. And, once more, read about the abandonment myth.
MA: The end result of this bill would be to end horse slaughter. It would not be an unintended consequence. It would be the intended consequence.
CHDC: What garble is this about unintended and intended consequences, Malcolm? Does it have something to do with what you said in 2011, when you didn’t think that horses were a resource for consumption? We’re confused. Please explain – but don’t forget to take that hoof out of your mouth first.
Phenylbutazone, Clenbuterol, and other drugs dangerous to human health carry life-time prohibitions. The government admits that. At the same time, it is evidently acceptable to “hold” horses with unknown histories for six months before sending them to slaughter, horses who may well have received those lifetime-prohibited drugs.
We’re thinking that there must be a genius within some branch of the government, someone who has been able to re-write mathematical laws. “Never” has now become six months.
In our opinion, the government of Canada can’t have it both ways – no matter how MP Malcolm Allen or his Conservative cronies might want to spin that.
Written by Sinikka Crosland, Executive Director, CHDC