Animal welfare is a sensitive issue. Not all of us in the House may agree on the best way to go about enacting laws to properly protect animals, but we all believe they should be protected. There are competing points of view, those of pet owners, farmers, developing nations and the rights of our native peoples. At the heart of it, the universal declaration on animal welfare is a start as it demonstrates our belief that animal welfare is essential.
As I mentioned in my previous speech, the declaration is an agreement among people and nations to recognize that animals are sentient, suffer, have welfare needs, and to ultimately end animal cruelty worldwide. The declaration will be structured as a set of general principles that acknowledge and emphasize the importance of animal welfare. The purpose of these principles is to encourage all nations to put in place or enhance existing animal welfare laws in standards.
The declaration is supported by a growing list of governments from countries around the world including all 27 members of the European Union. There is also a great deal of support from the public. Thousands of Canadians have signed petitions in support of a UDAW. Many of these petitions have been introduced in the House of Commons. The declaration is actively supported by Canada's foremost animal protection organizations including the World Society for the Protection of Animals.
The implementation of the declaration is an important step and will act as a catalyst for change in the following ways: by raising the status of animal welfare as an international issue; by encouraging those in industries which utilize animals to keep their welfare at the forefront of their policies and practices; and by inspiring positive change in public attitudes and actions toward animals.
I am heartened by the tone of the debate that has transpired. The declaration will be a key toward improved animal welfare legislation worldwide and a step closer to ending cruelty to animals globally. This first step is only one of many in a long road, but it is a critical one, one we must take for this extremely important cause."