TORONTO—For the first time in Canadian history, federal candidates will square off this weekend in a national all-party debate focused on animal protection issues.
Animal protection has emerged as an election issue for the first time in a federal election campaign, with the leading parties making campaign announcements and including platform commitments on animal protection. Meanwhile, a 2021 poll conducted by EKOS Research on behalf of World Animal Protection shows that 70% of Canadians believe that animal protection and welfare are significant considerations when deciding how to cast their ballot.
Debate participants include:
- Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, Liberal candidate in Beaches—East York
- Alistair MacGregor, NDP candidate in Cowichan—Malahat—Langford
- Elizabeth May, Green candidate in Saanich—Gulf Islands
Despite strong public concern over the wellbeing of animals, Canada is widely considered to have some of the worst animal protection laws in the western world. Animal issues must be part of the legislative agenda in the next Parliament, and this debate aims to give voters the information they need to make an informed decision about how the federal political parties plan to improve animal protection laws and policies.
Animal protection is inextricably linked with other major election issues, including climate change and pandemics. Raising animals for food is a leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, and the United Nations has repeatedly called for countries to transform domestic food systems and shift toward increased plant-based food consumption and production to address the threat of climate change. Meanwhile, COVID-19 has made clear the links between the exploitative wildlife trade and the risk of viral diseases jumping the species barrier from animals to humans.
The debate is jointly hosted by Animal Justice, the Montreal SPCA, Nation Rising, Vancouver Humane Society, and World Animal Protection. It will be moderated by freelance journalist Holly Lake, who has written extensively about animals. All parties with a seat in Parliament were invited to participate. The debate will take place in English but will be simultaneously translated into French for francophone viewers.
Members of the public are invited to register to watch the debate at www.animalelectiondebate.ca. It will take place from 7-8:30 pm on Sunday, September 12.