Apr 232011

Dear Jacki, 

RE:   Where do you stand on improving Canada’s animal protection laws? 

NOTE:   “Tammy” asked the same question;  “Emily” asked a closely-related one.    This reply to you is an elaboration on my replies to them. 

The question of how we treat animals is mainly a question of:

  • Culture and Ethics (Values).

It is also a question of:

  • Our choice of Economic Models (Industrialized food production for example).
  • Obsolete economic indicators.  Any increase in “Gross Domestic Product” (GDP) is used to convince ourselves that we are making “progress”.  GDP does not measure depletion of natural resources.  It is basically a measurement of how fast we are going through resources and filling up our garbage dumps.   The amount of food produced, with no regard to how many animals are slaughtered only to end up in a garbage bin is not calculated.  Nor is the pollution of water supplies.
  • It is also a question of the hold of corporations in Government and in our Universities.  If the Universities were doing their job we would not still be using economic indicators that are taking us down a road to annihilation. 

We need to get at ROOT CAUSES of our inhumanity in relation to animals.   

If a society is healthy, sharing and caring, laws are not needed to tell people what is right and wrong.   But as you point out, we DO need them.  So WHY?  Most people understand without being told that our treatment of animals is not right. 

Part of the answer, VALUES, is at: 

2010-02-25 Understanding why we flounder, help from John Ralston Saul “On Equilibrium”

(Sometimes I have to read Ralston Saul a couple of times before I get what he’s saying.)

We are making decisions based on UTILITARIAN values (making money).  You can go to the link for the helpful elaboration that Ralston Saul offers.  My way of saying approximately the same thing is that we have been brain-washed into thinking that CORPORATE values are OUR values.  They are not. 

If we understand and address root causes like VALUES, we will clear up other problems, too. 

Another part of the answer to “WHY” are we cruel, oddly enough, relates to understanding the HISTORY OF DEMOCRACY.   Democracy with its humanitarian values has been around for more than 2,000 years.  But it comes and goes.   We are FORGETFUL.  The adoption of utilitarian values is a sign that we are moving away from democracy and its values.   Democracy inevitably comes under attack.  Or, maybe it is always that democracy (power is exercised by the people) has to fight to keep its power. 

In the past, people have wrestled power away from a ruling elite of Church and Rulers.   Today democracy (that’s us) in Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere is in a battle to take back power from the ruling elite of large Corporations working with Government.

I hope you see that your battle on behalf of animals is a critical part of the effort to regain democracy (democratic VALUES).  There are many other efforts on many different fronts that will, I believe, take us to a new economy,  one based on “caring and sharing”.  If we don’t make the transition, we will destroy our existence here on Earth.  The Earth and her other creatures will be glad to be rid of us! 

But back to your questions.

I think it is better to make a decision of who to vote for, based on what people have actually DONE.  (I don’t like to say what I “will” do in regard to animal cruelty.  I can tell you what I have done.  And will continue to do.)   You don’t have to be an elected MP to help make things better in the world for all life forms,  as you know – because that is what you are doing.

I sometimes look at the bigger picture.  Our cruelties come in many different forms.

For the human animal we have normalized cancer, disease, developmental problems, still-births, infertility, etc.  They are the consequence of the more and more poisons we put into the environment.  But of course,  other animals now also suffer from cancer, disease, developmental problems, still-births, infertility, etc.   We are poisoning not just ourselves, but other creatures as well.   Things like the Tar Sands and the BP “spill” in the Gulf of Mexico are atrocities committed against aquatic creatures, birds, etc.  Heart-breaking.

We do terrible things to animals directly, too, as you point out. 

Two areas in particular that I have worked in are:  the genetic modification of animals (“enviro-pig”, fish) and intensive livestock operations.  

In my experience,  it is when we combine the efforts of many different people, working in many different areas but all making contributions toward a better world, we make a difference.  I’ve run an activist email network for more than 10 years.  We work together, sharing information. 

Some of the following is repetition, it’s from the email to Tammy: 

My particular area is in trying to understand WHY we do these things that we should not be doing.  From the various “battles” I’ve engaged in, it most often comes down to the fact that corporations and corporate values are running the show, instead of democracy and humanitarian values.  

So I tackle “corporatocracy” whenever the opportunity arises. 

 Until we are able to get back to Government that does its job of regulating the corporations, controlling them, instead of the reverse,  I do not believe that the things you want will be achieved.  The Government is not working for us;  the corporations have the money and the power.   Laws can be enacted – –  in many cases we have the laws,  but they are not enforced. 

The good news:  people are waking up.      

You could visit my blog, www.sandrafinley.ca  – – try the “categories” in the right-hand sidebar.    Our efforts to stop genetically-modified pigs are under “Genetic Modification”.  I appeal to people on a basis that I think will get them mobilized.  And I sometimes try to make light of things that are serious.  To try and maintain sanity! 

Regarding ILO’s (Intensive Livestock Operations),  you could go to:  http://sandrafinley.ca/?p=611   Issues are intertwined.  This one is about water, but it’s also about stopping the inhumane treatment of cattle and pigs.  Strategically, it’s easiest to tackle it from the water side.   People who might not respond in the interests of the cattle, will respond if they understand that their water supply is threatened.   You get a win on both fronts.   You can fight to get a law in place;  you can also stop the ILO from ever happening in the first place.  

About 8 years ago, we worked hard to stop the re-zoning of the Great Sand Hills for oil and gas exploration (that battle is not on the blog).  The Great Sand Hills are home to many endangered species.  Preservation of habitat is important.  Again, it was a case of having laws, but you discover that the laws are only as good as the engagement of citizens to challenge the breaking of the laws.  Left to themselves, the Government will let the corporations get away with murder. 

It’s great that you are pitching in!   

In my experience, more and more people are standing up and saying:  we want a different economy and a different way of being in the world.  And we’re making it happen.  It takes a lot of work, but the change has started and it is gaining momentum, I believe. 

Please get back if you have further questions. 

Best wishes, 


Hello Jill, Shirley and Troy, 

I hope you don’t mind if I respond with the same email I just sent to Jeffery. 

I see patterns and then try to address that larger picture.   Your email about the seal hunt is related to:

  • the email about the sled dogs that were “used” to entertain tourists at the Olympics and then slaughtered when the business fell off after the Olympics
  • the way that cattle and pigs (and chickens) are treated in  intensive livestock operations.

Those are related to my work:

  • to stop the genetic-engineering of animals like pigs and fish
  • some time ago, working to stop the re-zoning of protected habitat for endangered species in the Great Sand Hills of Saskatchewan (being done to accommodate the oil and gas industry)
  • I’ve worked to stop intensive livestock operations, too

 And so on. 

Here’s what I think:

  • We have laws but the laws are often not enforced.   And the Governments today (current Provincial Govt and Federal Govt) are systematically breaking down the protection laws that were created back in the 1970’s.
  •  We are strongest when we are working together.   Your work for the seals makes my hand stronger.  And the work of “Emily” and other people to stop other forms of cruelty to animals adds again to your strength and mine.

 NOW, it’s time to get at the root cause:  WHY are we treating other species the way we do?   Or WHY do we allow it to happen?   If we fight that, maybe we can bring the change that is needed.  

 (I have run an activist email network for more than 10 years.   We have lobbied hard for many things that are very important, that we shouldn’t even have to lobby for, because they are so obviously the right thing to do.   In the end,  we don’t get what is needed,  or it takes many years of battling.  WHY is that?) 

I believe it’s because we have been told that our values are corporate values.  Too many people have accepted that.  We are now at a time of saying, “No.  Those are not our values.  We actually CARE about the Earth and her creatures,  all of them.”   We are not here on Earth to mindlessly consume and make money.  Those are not our two goals in life. 

 I need your email.  It’s more ammunition that I can add to my arsenal.  

I hope you will see that you are working shoulder-to-shoulder  with me, and with Jaimie and Tammy, etc.  We will arrive at a place where our fellow creatures are treated with respect.  We should not need books and books of laws and regulations that don’t get enforced.  If we have a moral code or ethics – – humanitarian VALUES that we uphold – –  a new way of being in the world  – – it seems to me that we will have STRONGER laws (unwritten).  We should be able to make it taboo to treat animals cruelly.  

I say this all the time in my network:  it takes a critical mass of people, joined together, working to create a better world to make the changes.  We don’t have to have EVERY single person,  just a critical mass of determined people.  

We are taking back our power.   Too often, if you petition the Government (in my experience)  you give away your power.   You wait for them and the change doesn’t happen.   This way it WILL happen. 

You may want to look at the “categories” in the right-hand sidebar of my blog, www.sandrafinley.ca

Or specifically,  you may be interested in clicking on:    2011-04-23 The role of values when it comes to governing ourselves. Cruelty to animals a case in point. 

I would also like to extend an invitation to you.  There is a very good chance that the leader of the Green Party of Canada will be elected on May 2.  I know Elizabeth May personally.  She is the reason I got involved in the Green Party.  I have a great deal of respect for her intelligence, integrity and dedication to the best interests of the environment and of everyone.   

I’ll send the invitation in a second email:   Green Party, Making History in North America!  Party Time!!  Monday, May 2  Saskatoon – at The Bassment (Jazz Society). 

If you come, please be sure to introduce yourself! 

Thanks for getting in touch and being a voice for those who don’t speak our language.


= = = = = = = =  = = = = = = = = = = = = = = ==
Date: Wed, Apr 20, 2011 at 4:13 PM
Subject: Where do you stand on improving Canada’s animal protection laws?

Ms. Sandra Finley
Green Party

As a voter in your riding — and someone who counts myself among the 95% of Canadians who think that animal pain and suffering should be reduced as much as possible, even when these animals are raised to be slaughtered (see www.wspa.ca/poll) — I would like to know where you stand when it comes to improving Canada’s animal cruelty laws?

Do you count yourself among the 78% of Canadians who would like to close the loophole requiring that neglect be willful in intent? Or the 84% who would make it a more serious crime to brutally and viciously kill an animal? Would you support Brigadier’s Law creating a new offence for poisoning, injuring or killing a police dog or horse?

Would you commit to modernizing Canada’s three-decades-old regulations governing the humane transport of farm animals? Do you support the campaign for a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare?

Having reviewed the positions of those political leaders who responded to the animal welfare survey at www.voteforanimals.ca, I would appreciate knowing your personal position on these important national animal welfare issues.


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