Since 2012 the CHDC and our supporters have been doing everything possible to hold the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) accountable for violating their own regulations under the Health of Animals Act. In spite of public outrage, large draft horses continue to be shipped from Canada to Japan for slaughter. It is common practice to see three and even four horses crammed into flimsy wooden crates, and occasionally a particularly tall horse with inadequate head clearance is seen to occupy a crate. Both situations demonstrate clear violations of existing regulations that should be enforced by the CFIA.
But it appears that money, not the law, is the driving force behind the CFIA’s direction of commitment. Another document, obtained through an Access to Information request, has surfaced.
This was a letter written by a former Conservative MP to former Minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz. The MP’s comments tell the story: “CFIA has released new regulations surrounding the size and weight of crates as well as limiting transport to two horses per crate. Japanese importers have contacted several producers in my area and told them that if this is going to be normal operating procedure, they will no longer be bringing in animals from Canada as it will cost them enormous amounts of money in additional expenses.”
Scribbled messages on the document, placed there by an unnamed source, include “CFIA Renegade”. So, does that mean that anyone in the agency who tries to uphold the law (or at least attempts to come closer to upholding the law) is labelled a renegade?
Since the fall 2015 election, we had hoped for support from the Liberal government. After all, in May 2014 the Liberals unanimously voted in favour of MP Alex Atamanenko’s Bill C-571, which addressed the issue of horse slaughter and shipment to slaughter. Going forward, will they continue to support legislative initiatives to end the industry?
Unfortunately, form letters have become a frustrating fall-back amongst some Liberal MPs who are questioned regarding this issue. The letters echo previous Conservative rhetoric and give us no reassurance of ongoing support.
We must find our allies in government. As an equine defender, will you contact your MP and insist that, at very least, the CFIA must follow the law with regard to shipments of live horses for slaughter?
Go here to find the e-mail address for your MP. If time permits, please consider sending a separate letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office: PM@pm.gc.ca. (Note: sending a hard copy letter to your MP or the Prime Minister requires no postage stamp.)
Original, polite letters are always the best strategy. But if time is tight for you, simply include the following in your message: “It has come to my attention that live horses continue to be shipped from Canada to Japan for slaughter. Section 142 of the Health of Animals Regulations prohibits the head of a horse coming into contact with the roof of the shipping container. Section 141.8 of the same Act states that horses over 14 hands high must be segregated for air transport. Both of these statutes are currently being violated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and, as your constituent, I request that you investigate this troubling contravention of legislation.”
We are compiling a list of supportive MPs, so please let CHDC know if you receive a positive response. Thank you, on behalf of the horses!