Second reading of Bill S-15, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act

By: The Hon. Marty Klyne

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Grizzly bear, Yukon Territory

Hon. Marty Klyne: Honourable senators, today is a great day for animal welfare in Canada. I’m thrilled to rise as sponsor of Bill S-15, new government legislation to protect elephants and great apes in captivity. This bill is one of the strongest animal welfare bills in Parliament’s history.

Thank you to the government — especially Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault; the Government Representative, Senator Marc Gold; and Parliamentary Secretary Julie Dabrusin — for their efforts to bring this bill forward. I note that the introduction of Bill S-15 fulfills a 2021 government election and mandate letter commitment to introduce legislation to protect wild animals in captivity. That promise to Canadians followed the introduction of the Jane Goodall act on this subject in 2020 by our former colleague, the Honourable Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, together with MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, the bill’s House sponsor.

I trust this government bill can build on the Senate’s recent successes to protect animal welfare. These include Canada’s whale and dolphin bill captivity laws, adopted through the leadership of Senators Moore, Sinclair and Harder; Senator MacDonald’s shark fin ban; Senator Boyer’s efforts to prevent animal abuse and dog fighting; Senator Stewart-Olsen’s work to ban animal testing for cosmetics; and Senators Galvez and Dalphond’s amendments to Bill S-5 to phase out animal toxicity testing, which became law in June.

As government legislation, Bill S-15 can move through this chamber and our committees with far greater priority and expediency than our related Bill S-241, the current version of the Jane Goodall act. As you know, I am also the sponsor of that bill, which was debated extensively at second reading over 14 months and stands referred to three Senate committees. Legally, and although drafted differently, Bill S-15 is essentially a piece of Bill S-241 and, as such, has already received this chamber’s strong support in principle.

I will speak more about the relationship between the two bills. For now, let us focus on the animals. For elephants and great apes in captivity, Bill S-15 provides the enhanced legal protection they deserve, according to their scientifically established characteristics and needs. Elephants and great apes are self-aware, highly intelligent, emotional and social. They love their friends and families, mourn their dead and use tools. Great apes can even learn and communicate in American Sign Language, sometimes teaching the skill to each other. In many ways, these remarkable creatures are very much like us.

Yet, in Canada, possession of these creatures does not require a licence or a justifiable purpose. Therefore, as with the Jane Goodall act, Bill S-15 would prohibit new captivity of elephants and great apes, including breeding, unless licenced for individual welfare, conservation or science. Also like Bill S-241, this bill would prohibit the use of these species in performances for entertainment, which have occurred in recent years with elephants in Canada and may be ongoing.

Bill S-15 can and should achieve the world’s first nationally legislated phase-out of elephant captivity. Over 20 captive elephants live in Canada at four locations, with most located at African Lion Safari near Hamilton, Ontario. Zoo de Granby and Edmonton Valley Zoo have already pledged to phase out keeping elephants.

A grandfathered phase-out is recommended by scientists and other independent experts due to elephants’ serious health, behavioural and reproductive problems in captivity. In North American zoos, elephant deaths outpace births at a rate of two to one, meaning their captivity does not have conservation value. Other considerations include the fact that all Canadian zoos with elephants have individuals taken from the wild; the need to keep these huge, wide-ranging creatures indoors for much of the Canadian winter; the ongoing risk of cruel separations of mother-daughter pairs in commercial transactions; the use of bullhooks in Canada, which are implements used to control elephants through pain and fear; and the use of elephants in recent years in Canada for rides and performances for entertainment.

With elephants, Bill S-15 reflects changing social attitudes, which have evolved with our increasing scientific knowledge of these creatures. As Senator Sinclair said in debating the whale bill, we do not stand in judgment of those activities in the past, but we are seeking to establish appropriate policy and laws based on current knowledge going forward.

With respect to great apes, Bill S-15 upholds Canada’s sanctuary, conservation and science programs for chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans. Great apes face exploitation in captivity in other countries and the risk of extinction in Africa and Asia. Bill S-15 can send a message to the world about the need to safeguard these species, humanity’s closest living relatives, who share up to 98.8% of our DNA. Indeed, Bill S-15 would offer great apes some of the strongest legal protection in the world that could, for example, include conditions of licensing based on evolving scientific information about their well-being — not to mention that the continuation of captive great ape conservation and science programs at high welfare standards is important to Dr. Jane Goodall, world-renowned scientist, conservationist and UN Messenger of Peace, as her team continues to work with local communities to save great apes in the wild.

Approximately 30 great apes live in Canada at four locations, with chimpanzees at Fauna Sanctuary near Montreal, gorillas and orangutans at the Toronto Zoo, and gorillas at the Calgary Zoo and Zoo de Granby. I commend these organizations for their excellent work and commitment to the well-being of the great apes in their care.

As I mentioned, in 2020, our former colleague, the Honourable Murray Sinclair, laid the foundation for Bill S-15. He authored and introduced the original version of the Jane Goodall act, Bill S-218, proposing to protect captive elephants, great apes and potentially other wild species. In speaking to that bill, Senator Sinclair urged us to understand our connection to nature and to respect our fellow creatures. He said:

In many Indigenous cultures, we use the phrase, “all my relations” to express the interdependency and interconnectedness of all life forms and our relationship of mutual reliance and shared destiny. When we treat animals well, we act with both self-respect and mutual respect.

I am grateful for Senator Sinclair’s wisdom and guidance in advancing Bill S-15, as well as the Jane Goodall act. At this time of roadside zoos, mass extinction and climate crisis, I take to heart his view that this bill will advance reconciliation with the natural world, a goal of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report. In sponsoring Bill S-15, I hope both science and Indigenous knowledge will inspire senators and MPs to prioritize this bill for Royal Assent sooner than later and before the next election.

Before getting into the details, thank you to the Canadian animal welfare NGOs whose dedicated work over the years has opened hearts and minds to compassionate legislation like Bill S-15. Thank you to Humane Canada, Animal Justice, World Animal Protection Canada, HSI/Canada and Zoocheck.

In co-developing Bill S-241, which contains the policies in Bill S-15, thank you as well to the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, the Toronto Zoo, the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo and Zoo de Granby.

Many such voices are eager that measures in the Jane Goodall act be considered in conjunction with Bill S-15, such as the ban on big cats at roadside zoos and as pets and the animal care organizations’ framework for excellent zoos, aquariums and sanctuaries. I am confident that our process will afford that opportunity, and I understand the government is open to potential amendments with the benefit of evidence presented on Bill S-241.

Indeed, in my view as sponsor, as we debate Bill S-15 at second reading, the legislation is consistent with considering such amendments at later stages, particularly as both bills amend the same two statutes regarding wildlife captivity.

Colleagues, I will speak to you today about five subjects relating to Bill S-15: first, the bill’s legalities; second, elephant captivity in Canada; third, great ape sanctuary, conservation and science programs in Canada; fourth, potential amendments to Bill S-15; and fifth, the process ahead for this bill and our related but different bill, Bill S-241, the Jane Goodall act.

Legally, Bill S-15 would amend the animal cruelty section of the Criminal Code, as well as the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act, referred to as the WAPPRIITA. This is a wildlife trade statute administered by Environment and Climate Change Canada.

The bill will prohibit new captivity of elephants and great apes, including breeding, unless licensed for individual welfare, conservation or science. Like Canada’s 2019 whale and dolphin laws, Bill S-15 authorizes the federal and provincial governments to potentially license breeding for these purposes, while cross-border transport is exclusively federal.

Whether or not licences should be granted by the environment minister and for what purpose is a question of fact and ethics. Based on the recommendations of independent scientists and other experts, my view is that licences should not be granted for new elephant captivity in Canada.

In considering the merits of a conservation or science program under the bill, such programs should hold the promise of significant contributions to the species’ long-term survival in the wild. Notably, captive breeding has played a role in over half of the cases where extinction has been prevented for birds and mammals.

In addition, Bill S-15 would prohibit the use of affected species in performances for entertainment, which have occurred with elephants in Canada in recent years. No potential licences will be available for such performances. Unlike Bill S-241, Bill S-15 does not explicitly prohibit elephant rides, which have also occurred in recent years. This may be an amendment to consider.

As with Canada’s whale and dolphin laws, the penalty for illegal breeding or performance for entertainment would be a summary conviction and a fine of up to $200,000. Unlike Bill S-241, Bill S-15 does not contain new sentencing measures to provide for the potential relocation, with costs, of wild animals involved in these offences.

Constitutionally, Bill S-15 exercises the federal criminal power over animal cruelty and the federal trade and commerce power over international and interprovincial trade. Federal animal cruelty offences have existed in Canada since 1892, and international trade restrictions are already in place for endangered species on conservation grounds.

As well, provinces have long enacted complementary property and civil rights laws to seize captive animals in distress, as well as patchwork municipal ownership restrictions. Bill S-15 would establish strong, sound and uniform national restrictions for the species at issue.

For senators looking to take a deep dive into the legal aspects of this legislation, I refer you to my written brief to our Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee on Bill S-241 dated September 7 of this year.

An important point is that the legalities of Bill S-15 are the same as those of Canada’s federal whale and dolphin captivity laws — that is, the “Free Willy” bill — studied at our Fisheries and Oceans Committee and adopted by Parliament in 2019. Those amendments to the Criminal Code and the Fisheries Act serve as the legal model for Bill S-15.

The Senate overwhelmingly endorsed the whale and dolphin measures in a standing vote on Bill C-68. That government fisheries bill, sponsored by Senator Christmas, contained the then-Government Representative Senator Harder’s amendments to secure a vote on the whale measures, as well as Senator MacDonald’s shark fin ban. The Senate voted in favour of Bill C-68 with 86 “yeas,” 3 “nays” and 2 abstentions.

In the Senate’s debate on Bill C-68, Senator Harder said:

. . . I hope the amendments in Bill C-68 will stand as an example of the results that can be achieved when the government and the Senate work together to deliver the best possible public policy results for Canadians. . . . I hope it can be a model going forward in a more independent, positive Senate. . . .

I note as well that Canada’s whale and dolphin captivity laws have worked well. Bill S-203, Senator Moore’s and Senator Sinclair’s Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, together with Bill C-68, ended the breeding of beluga whales and the import of wild captured belugas and dolphins to Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Those laws also resulted in a charge in 2021 for Marineland’s allegedly illegal use of dolphins in a performance for entertainment purposes.

Today, the Vancouver Aquarium no longer holds captive whales and dolphins, and a whale sanctuary currently in development in Nova Scotia provides hope for a better life for some of Marineland’s more than 30 remaining belugas.

Since the passage of Canada’s whale bill in 2019, France has banned whale and dolphin captivity, as has the Australian state of New South Wales. The United States Congress is considering similar legislation with the “SWIMS Act.”

With Bill S-15 building on the whale bill’s success, the time has come to protect additional wild species in captivity, starting with elephants and great apes and considering other priorities like big cats.

Colleagues, I focus now on the need to phase out elephant captivity in Canada. As Senator Sinclair told us in 2020, Asian and African elephants are the largest land animals in existence. Elephants are intelligent and highly emotional, with excellent memories and a strong sense of empathy. They experience the world primarily through smell and hearing. In fact, their sense of smell is five times stronger than a bloodhound’s.

Elephants use low-frequency sounds to communicate over several kilometres, with pitches inaudible to humans. They can hear storms hundreds of kilometres away and change their routes days in advance to intercept rain. They have home ranges of between 400 and 10,000 square kilometres.

Socially, elephants are matriarchal, living in herds of adult females with adolescents and young. Older females keep the knowledge that allows the herd to survive. During drought, the herd will follow a matriarch for days to a drinking hole no one else knows about, trusting her.

Elephants are also altruistic. They try to revive sick or dying individuals, including strangers, lifting them with their tusks to get them on their feet. Elephants mourn their dead, standing vigil over dead matriarchs.

Honourable colleagues, 23 captive elephants live in Canada. African Lion Safari near Hamilton holds 17 Asian elephants, the largest group in North America, with at least two born in the wild. The Edmonton Valley Zoo is home to a lone Asian elephant named Lucy, born in the wild. In Quebec, Parc Safari has two African elephants, both born in the wild. Zoo de Granby has three African elephants, of which two were born in the wild. Obviously, removing elephants from Africa and Asia for display in North American zoos is counter to elephant conservation.

At the expense of being repetitive, the Edmonton Valley Zoo and Zoo de Granby have committed to phasing out elephants. In 2011, Toronto City Council voted to send the Toronto Zoo’s three remaining African elephants to a sanctuary in California, a journey paid for by Bob Barker.

In 2014, three Asian elephants in Calgary were relocated to a warmer climate in the United States. Between the early 1990s and 2012, over 22 U.S. zoos shut down their elephant exhibits or announced phase-outs.

In urging an elephant phase-out in Canada with Bill S-15, I rely on two letters from 23 independent scientists and other experts in support of this policy. The letters are signed by global leaders in their field, such as Dr. Joyce Poole. They write:

Scientific and experiential evidence indicates that the use of elephants as performers, riding objects, and exhibit specimens can be physically and psychologically detrimental to these highly intelligent, sensitive, and self-aware animals. Confinement, restraint, travel, harmful training practices, exhibition, isolation, noise, performing, and exposure to the public while living in unnatural environments can adversely affect elephants’ health and welfare.

Elephants are not suited to any form of captivity, as no captive facility can fulfil the basic biological, social, spatial, cognitive and intrinsic requirements of elephants. The keeping of elephants in captivity in Canada should be brought to an end, with every effort made to ensure those elephants that remain in captivity are provided with the best possible conditions to meet their welfare requirements and ensure their well-being for the remainder of their lives.

Senators, both of these expert letters are available on the websites of the three committees studying Bill S-241. The second letter responds to arguments made against Bill S-241 by the International Elephant Foundation. This is an organization whose board is largely comprised of zoo executives, including from African Lion Safari. The second expert letter responds to arguments made against the bill by the Elephant Managers Association, also with a board composed of zoo staff.

In the second response letter we received from independent experts, I highlight four of their conclusions.

First, there is not a single case of captive elephants boosting conservation or wild populations through the import of wild elephants required to sustain North American zoos.

Second, elephants kept in Canada must spend most of their time indoors in the winter to avoid frostbite and hypothermia.

Third, reproductive and other research at African Lion Safari has not had conservation value for wild elephants.

And fourth, captivity has been shown to cause brain damage on elephants.

I trust we will hear from these experts in a committee process.

A 2019 New York Times article is also eye opening. It states:

[A] 2012 Seattle Times investigation found that 390 elephants had died in accredited zoos in the previous 50 years, a majority of them from captivity-related injuries and diseases.

Still, the biggest threat by far has proved to be the preternaturally low birthrate of captive elephants. . . . One of the more disturbing manifestations of zoo-elephant psychosis is the high incidence of stillbirths and reproductive disorders among pregnant mothers. Even when births are successful, there are often instances not only of infant mortality but also of calf rejection and infanticide, something almost never witnessed in thousands of studies of wild elephant herds . . . . [I]n essence, the trend has been that for every new birth in captivity, two elephants have died.

I also note on the record some problematic recent events at African Lion Safari. Like many others, I found it disturbing that in 2021, African Lion Safari offered elephants for sale to a Texas zoo. That transaction — later cancelled — would have broken up two mother-daughter pairs who normally stay together for life. Elephants named Emily and Nellie were offered for $2 million with a $200,000 bonus if Emily had a calf that lived over 60 days. We can imagine the distress caused by those cruel separations.

In addition, in 2019, an elephant attack left a trainer with serious injuries following elephant rides. CBC reported on the incident:

Born in Burma, the Asian elephant was ridden for 25 years by visitors to African Lion Safari . . . .

But on June 21, 2019, Maggie lunged at her handler as the last rider was dismounting. . . .

Despite everything we know in recent years, elephant performances for entertainment have occurred. You can watch YouTube videos of elephants in a stadium dunking basketballs, painting, standing on their hind legs, kneeling, doing funny walks, shaking their heads and other circus-style tricks.

In addition, some elephant trainers use bullhooks to control their elephants. A bullhook is a sharp baton that gains compliance through pain and fear. The Association of Zoos & Aquariums, or AZA, announced a phase-out of bullhooks in 2019.

Around the world, we have seen developments to limit elephant captivity. In 2019, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES, which is the international regulator of trade in wildlife, banned sending wild African elephants to zoos. The next year, in Pakistan, Justice Athar Minallah held that animals have constitutional rights and protections under the Quran. He ordered a lone zoo elephant moved to a sanctuary after being held in chains for 35 years. Last year, the lone elephant at the Bronx Zoo, Happy, lost a case for her relocation before the State of New York Court of Appeals, 5-2. Still, she made it that far.

Senators, this progress for our fellow creatures reminds me of the words of Martin Luther King Jr.:

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

With Bill S-15, Canada can lead the way for elephants with the first legislated phase-out of their captivity in the world. Like Senator Sinclair, I believe sanctuary options in warmer climates should be considered for Canada’s remaining elephants. When it comes to elephant captivity, senators, we must follow the science; the truth will set them free.

I turn now to great apes.

First, chimpanzees, our closest living relatives, native to the forests and savannahs of tropical Africa. Chimps form lifelong family bonds and friendships. They feel happiness, sadness, fear, despair and grief. They may greet each other by kissing, and young apes laugh when tickled.

In 1960, Dr. Jane Goodall was the first person to observe chimps making and using tools. This prompted the anthropologist Louis Leakey’s famous telegram:

Now we must redefine tool, redefine man, or accept chimpanzees as human.

As Senator Sinclair told us, chimpanzees live within complex societies, forming political alliances to achieve their goals. Male chimps even fawn over infants when vying for power. Like humans, chimps can be violent, but they also take care of elderly relatives and grieve their dead.

However, humans have treated our closest relatives atrociously. Since 1900, humans have reduced chimpanzee numbers by between 70% and 80%, with numbers still plummeting. In captivity, chimpanzees have been exhibited at roadside zoos and circuses, owned as pets, exploited in TV and films, sent to outer space and used in military and biomedical research. Experiments on chimps have involved food deprivation, electric shock, surgery and exposure to radiation, chemical weapons and diseases.

In Canada, six chimpanzees live at Fauna Sanctuary near Montreal, with 17 others having passed away over the years, in the relative peace and comfort of the sanctuary after lives of devastating trauma.

The heroes behind Fauna, led by founder Gloria Grow, rescued these chimps from laboratory research, the entertainment industry and unsuitable zoos. The best-selling book The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary, by Andrew Westoll, tells their story. Consider this passage about the death of their beloved chimp Tom, who was captured from Africa before being sold into laboratory research. Despite what Tom endured, he went on to mentor young males and help Fauna’s most damaged chimpanzees to recover. He is remembered as a loving and wise leader. After his death, it was said:

. . . a small measure of solace might be found in the simple lesson that the chimps of Fauna sanctuary have been teaching Gloria for more than a decade now: that no matter what kind of trauma we’ve been through, we all have the capacity to recover and to help others heal.

Senators, Bill S-15 will allow Fauna to continue their inspiring work with licences available for the best interests of chimpanzees in need.

I turn now to the gorilla and orangutan conservation and science programs at the Toronto, Calgary and Granby zoos.

Gorillas are the largest primate inhabiting central Africa. They live in family groups led by a silverback. In the wild, gorillas are critically endangered with three subspecies having lost between 70% and 80% of their population in the last 25 years.

Orangutans inhabit the Asian islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Covered in shaggy red fur, they are relatively solitary. However, the relationship between a mother orangutan and her offspring is extremely close, a maternal bond thought to be the most intense of any in nature with the possible exception of humanity.

Orangutans are also critically endangered: 80% of their habitat has been wiped out, and the Sumatran population numbers less than 14% of mid-20th century numbers.

The Toronto, Calgary and Granby zoos are part of the AZA’s Species Survival Plan for gorillas, with a new birth in Calgary this year. As well, the Toronto Zoo is part of such a plan for Sumatran orangutans with a new birth last year and 13 orangutans raised since 1974. Operating at the highest standards, these programs aim to manage healthy, genetically diverse and demographically stable populations for the long-term future as a fallback for conservation efforts in the wild to safeguard the existence of the species.

In addition, since 2011, the Toronto Zoo has participated in 60 gorilla and orangutan studies with universities, including York University, the University of Toronto and Laurentian University. Calgary Zoo veterinarians have presented their findings on gorilla medical conditions at veterinary conferences. Last year, the Calgary Zoo announced a partnership with two West African conservation organizations, supporting graduate research projects in Nigeria to help save Cross River gorillas with only 300 remaining.

Dr. Jane Goodall supports the continuation of the Toronto, Calgary and Granby Zoos’ interrelated AZA great ape conservation and science programs, as does Bill S-15.

Excellent zoos are helping to save endangered species in Canada and around the world, including great apes, and in doing so, they have my full support.

Senators, I turn now to potential amendments to Bill S-15. I understand the government is open to some changes with the benefit of evidence presented on this bill and Bill S-241. It is fortunate that we will be able to study both bills in tandem and that we have the first kick at the can with an “S” bill starting in the Senate. I guess that’s a great thing.

With Bill S-15, our task is not sober second thought; it’s enthusiastic first thought. As sponsor, I commend the government on their strong record of considering and accepting Senate amendments, including those to the “save the whale” bill, to pass the shark fin ban and to phase out animal toxicity testing.

Bill S-15 is a milestone to celebrate as a government-initiated animal welfare bill that can achieve the world’s first elephant captivity phase-out. However, we may consider an amendment or two to make permanent the elephant ivory and rhino horn regulations announced by Minister Guilbeault this week.

Congratulations to the minister on that achievement to severely restrict trades in elephant ivory, rhino horn and hunting trophies of those species with narrow exceptions as antiques.

Other topics to consider for an amendment in conjunction with Bill S-15 may include banning elephant rides; authorizing judicial relocation of captive wild animals involved in illegal breeding or performance at sentencings for these offences with costs; banning big cats at roadside zoos and as pets; exploring the animal care organization framework in Bill S-241 for excellent zoos meeting the highest standards; and providing a mechanism to extend legal protections to additional captive wild species by cabinet decision.

At the same time, we need to be mindful that for wildlife captivity legislation in this Parliament, the hour grows late. We must move quickly with two words on our mind: Royal Assent. Fortunately, with the government procedural features of Bill S-15, the beacons of hope are lit.

Colleagues, I turn to my final subject: the process ahead for Bill S-15 and our related but distinct Bill S-241, the Jane Goodall act. As you know, neither the whale captivity bill nor the Jane Goodall act have advanced quickly or easily through Parliament.

When the “Free Willy” bill received Royal Assent in 2019, that event concluded the longest process to pass a bill in Canada’s parliamentary history. The bill’s three-and-a-half-year journey included 34 months of debate and study in the Senate, compared to 8 months in the House of Commons. The Senate process involved a hoist amendment proposing to kill the bill at second reading, 16 committee hearings, six months of report-stage debate — compared to the normal period of several days or weeks — and a filibuster at third reading.

In this Parliament, Bill S-241, the Jane Goodall act, has been the most-debated bill at second reading with 17 speeches and well over five hours of debate prior to our second reading vote in June. Most of those speeches were in strong support of the bill, and I am grateful to the senators who spoke for our fellow creatures. However, the critic entered our debate to oppose the bill after 14 months on the condition the bill would be referred to multiple committees. Thus Bill S-241 became the first non-government bill in Parliament’s history to be referred to more than one committee — and not two committees but three: the Environment, Legal and Agriculture Committees.

On this point and as a strong supporter of the agricultural sector, I would emphasize that neither Bill S-15 nor Bill S-241 contemplate nor make proposals regarding agriculture. These bills do not contemplate game farms but pertain to captive wildlife only.

However, I welcome all three committees’ studies and have provided written briefs to each. Unfortunately, the Environment Committee’s first two meetings to study Bill S-241 have been cancelled due to the Senate sitting. Still, I know our chair, Senator Galvez, is eager to be under way.

In Bill S-15, government procedural features may finally ensure the wildlife captivity legislation receives a fair, timely and transparent hearing in a path to Royal Assent in this Parliament.

For my part, procedural dynamics with Bill S-241 are water under the bridge. However, I urge this chamber not to tolerate similar dynamics going forward with Bill S-15. We have lost valuable time, and it is imperative that committee hearings begin at the soonest opportunity. I urge senators who wish to speak to this bill to please do so on an expedited basis. Then let’s see how far the holiday spirit can carry this bill before we break.

I trust everyone in this chamber wants to do the right thing for the magnificent creatures with whom we share this earth. I believe that if we follow science and Indigenous knowledge, we can achieve this goal together in Canada, our great nation of nations.

I conclude with a quote from my inspiration on this bill, the Honourable Murray Sinclair:

. . . I want to remind you that we are all connected — not just you and me, but all life forms of creation. This understanding imposes responsibilities. . . .

Senators, we live in a time of great challenge, with the natural world in peril. However, we also live in a time of great hope, with social values increasingly reflecting a moral and spiritual awakening. We can yet save this beautiful planet, along with Indigenous cultures and knowledge and the sacred and innocent animals who deserve our compassion.

Senators, I ask for your help in taking a small step towards fulfilling this vision with Bill S-15. Thank you, hiy kitatamihin.

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