On October 9, the Canadian Government announced that they will be spending $7.5 million to develop and implement a national database for tracing all livestock as a tool to improve food safety and bolster trade:
Details on the livestock traceability remain sketchy at this time, however it is important to note that equines are included. What is interesting is that the move appears to come at a time when the federal government have been in trade talks with not only the European Union but also Korea and Japan.
It is not stretching the imagination to conclude that outside pressure was exerted by trading partners to improve and implement a far more reliable livestock tracing system in keeping with traceability measures already in place in other countries.
In the past, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition has questioned the government on its failure to implement equine traceability by July of 2013. We detailed this in a report over two years ago entitled “Pro-Slaughter Group Attempts to Cash In on Horse Traceability Program While Canada Falters on its Deadline” Further reading on Equine Traceability was explored in Heather Clemenceau’s blog piece
The premise for the now defunct Bill C-571 which included a European-type passport system for horses was defeated by the government as late as five months ago, in May of this year. Bill C-571 specifically targeted the food safety issue of horsemeat in an effort to close the loopholes in the slaughter industry.
The Conservative Ministers of Parliament unanimously voted against the Bill with the exception of two MPs. Despite the Bill being a NDP Private Members Bill, the Leader of the New Democratics, Thomas Mulcair, voted the Bill down. The official tally for all MPs that voted stands at 155 against and 102 for the Bill with the Conservative government that holds a majority in parliament making up 141 of the nay votes. The only parties that voted in complete agreement with the Bill were the Liberal Party and the Green Party. A complete CHDC synopsis of the voting can be found here.
In the past, the implementation of equine traceability in Canada has been largely under the umbrella of pro-slaughter Equine Canada, the official arm of the equine industry in Canada.
Shortly before the vote on Bill C-571, Equine Canada released its statement against the Bill stating: “The enactment of Bill C-571 would establish a new defacto trade standard (for both inter-provincial and international trade) that is outside the scope of Canada’s current policy and trade agreements for meat imports and exports and inter-provincial trade in food products.” For at least five years, Equine Canada has struggled to enact any form of equine traceaiblity in spite of designated federal funding earmarked for them to do so. It is not known what position Equine Canada will take in implementing the federal government’s new livestock traceability proposal, if any.
As with some government proposals, it is sometimes years before they are enacted. This proposal does not come with a timeline and it could prove costly to implement considering all livestock are targetted.
Also, as over 60% of horses being slaughtered in Canada are from the U.S., it is not known what future provisions will be put in place to ensure the horse meat that is slaughtered from U.S. sources meet the new Canadian standards.