Canada signs on to the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare

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Canada signs on to the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare

This past Friday the Canadian Parliament voted to support the Universal Declaration of Animal Welfare (UDAW).

From The Province:

In a rare move, federal MPs have voted unanimously for a private member’s motion in support of a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare — essentially agreeing that animal welfare is important.

The motion calls on Canada to support development of animal-welfare declarations at all relevant international organizations and forums.

Remember, though, that these are the same people who voted unanimously to request that seal skin be a part of the official 2010 Canadian Olympic uniform. I think the motion to sign on to the UDAW was done because it really doesn’t do anything to improve the lives of animals.

Again from The Province:

Organizers say that by establishing the status of animal welfare as an international issue of concern, it will:

– Provide a basis for animal-welfare legislation in countries where it does not already exist;

– Encourage governments to improve their national animal-welfare legislation;

– Recognize the reality of animal welfare as a key factor in humanitarian and environmental policy making;

– Encourage those industries that use animals to keep their welfare at the forefront of their policies;

– Improve public awareness of the importance of animal welfare; and

– Inspire positive change in public attitudes toward animals.

This motion could help to raise awareness about animals in general, bringing more attention to the idea that animals are worthy of our concern. But, practically speaking, it doesn’t do anything directly or immediately to improve animal welfare. There are no laws or requirements that necessarily come out of this.

Just about every organization of farmers (Chicken Farmers of Canada, Canadian Pork Council, etc) has a statement about animal welfare on their website. Saying that animal welfare is important and a focus for an organization (be it a government, coalition of farms, or a single farm) is easy and doesn’t really cost anything. But making real changes and doing what’s best for the animals involved does cost a great deal of money and would change the way these people do business.

I am cautiously optimistic that this vote, combined with other items in the public eye these days (Food, Inc., the HSUS veal slaughterhouse investigation, the publication and coverage of Eating Animals), might get people thinking more about the intrinsic value and concerns of these animals we call “food.”

1 Comment


November 12, 2009 at 8:34 am

I’ll be interviewing Pat Tohill from WSPA this Friday (Nov 13) about this issue. Listen in to Animal Voices on Co-op Radio 102.7FM at Noon.

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