Canadians may have an international reputation as America’s quieter neighbor who rarely toots their own horn, but don’t let this reputation fool you. We Canadians are a fiercely proud bunch. We understand the unique culture in our home and native land. Yes we love hockey, no we don’t live in igloos (most of us), and if you bump into us on the street we will immediately say ‘sorry’.
As much as I love my country (even you, Toronto), there have always been times that I cringe with embarrassment at our archaic ways. The majority of Canadians recoil every spring when our beloved nation is condemned all over the world for the seal hunt. Or when Bob Barker announces that the Calgary Rodeo needs to come to an end. (We hear you Bob and many of us have been decrying it for years.)
It’s bad enough that our government and some citizens insist on dragging out the same exploitive events well past their due dates, but encountering new legislation that actually sees us regressing in the area of animal welfare is almost enough to make others of us give up our maple syrup and move to Switzerland.
I’m referring to Canada’s recent proposed amendment to our current legislation that deems downed (or already dead) cows to be fit for consumption. Simply put, a ‘downer cow’ is one that is no longer able to stand. The reasons these cows are no longer able to stand vary, but usually it’s because of appalling living conditions that leave them too sick to stand. If you feel like a good cry then I recommend Googling the term to discover the different techniques that are used to try and get a downed cow to move and what their fate eventually is.
In the US Farm Sanctuary has been working for more than 20 years to stop the abuse of downed animals. Obama banned downer cows from entering the food supply in 2009, and we Canadians have had the same restrictions until recently. But now the Canadian government is proposing an amendment that would change that. Apparently the Maple Leaf Meat’s 2008 listeriosis outbreak is too distant a memory to remind us that this does not help protect our health.
Becci Gindin-Clarke from the BC-based animal advocacy organization Liberation BC explains why the amendment is really about saving money for large meat processors, rather than about taking into account the safety and needs of Canadian citizens:
“The proposed amendment to allow downed animals into the nation’s food supply is an attempt to weaken overall farm industry laws under the guise of helping Canada’s “small farms”, of which there are comparatively few. Though its advertised purpose is to prevent these smaller farms from losing money when, for example, a cow breaks her leg before being loaded onto a transport truck, the amendment also allows for the on-farm slaughter of animals who have been judged to be too agitated and aggressive for workers to transport.
And though the industry insists that veterinarians and food safety inspectors will be on hand to perform pre- and post-slaughter evaluations, we have no doubt that these evaluations will be exactly as lax as those which allowed downed cows stricken with BSE and other maladies into the food supply in the first place.
Basically, this proposed amendment is an attempt to increase the profits of the farming industry at the cost of the health and welfare of both animals and humans.”
- Becci Gindin-Clarke, Research and Information Director for Liberation BC
Unfortunately, it will probably take another health scare for Canadians to realize how damaging these new rules can be. In the meantime many of us up north are throwing our hands up and crying ‘Oh Canada!’ in dismay.