Party animals: Ignatieff, Layton, Duceppe and May all say their parties would win if animals could vote

TORONTO, April 14 /CNW/ - To sway the animal vote Ignatieff and Layton both have new food policies in store for Canada, while Duceppe is calling for tougher cruelty laws and May wants animals treated as equals according to a survey done by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). "Animals matter to Canadians and as we approach the May 2nd election, it's time that animal welfare issues get the attention they deserve," says WSPA Programs Manager, Pat Tohill.

To address this, WSPA launched VoteForAnimals.ca, a resource for Canadian voters to get information about the various parties' stance on animal issues. WSPA asked each leader 11 questions ranging from their party's position on strengthening current animal cruelty laws and promoting humane and sustainable farming to how they personally show a commitment to animals. Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton, Gilles Duceppe and Elizabeth May have all responded. Go to www.voteforanimals.ca.  Across Canada, visitors to this site can also contact their local candidates asking for their position on animal issues.

Do party leader responses reflect current Canadian views
Based on a recent poll* commissioned by WSPA and conducted by Harris/Decima, many Canadians wish to minimize and eventually eliminate all forms of animal cruelty and while responses did fluctuate somewhat depending on voting preference (Conservatives 78%, Liberal 89%, NDP 95%, Green 89% and BQ 97%) still more than three quarters of people support this view. Similarly an overwhelming majority of voting Canadians want to update Canada's animal cruelty laws and would support introducing an amendment that would make it a more serious crime to brutally and viciously kill an animal (Conservatives 75%, Liberal 86%, NDP 88%, Green 87% and BQ 88%).  We asked leaders whether they support strengthening the animal cruelty provisions and their responses can be seen at www.voteforanimals.ca

Animal welfare is an important issue for voting Canadians and Vote for Animals will provide interesting insight into the mindset of our potential leaders. WSPA hopes that Canadians learn something about the leaders based on their answers.

Some party leader responses
How do you personally demonstrate a commitment to animal welfare?

"I respect the dignity of all living creatures.  I am personally committed to animal welfare, and that is why, as a party, we will work with stakeholders to identify ways to strengthen animal welfare, while balancing the humane treatment of animals with the legitimate practices of farmers, hunters and sport fishers." - Ignatieff

"The abuse of any vulnerable creature, human or otherwise, is something we should all take seriously.  I will continue to work with all stakeholders and my caucus to protect animals." - Layton

"Animals are living beings. It is important to respect them and treat them with dignity. It is also important to inform yourself about what is on your plate. As consumers, we must ensure that the products that are available to us respect a high standard of animal welfare." - Duceppe

"As leader of the Green party, my personal commitment to animal welfare is expressed through support of shelters, adopting rescue animals, being vegetarian and working to protect animal rights." - May

* Based on a study commissioned by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and conducted by Harris/Decima via telephone from October 26 to November 7, 2010.  A total of 1,007 Canadians were surveyed.  The association margin of error is +/-3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

Quotes from WSPA:
"We are still hopeful the Conservative party will respond to our survey; it would be a shame if they were the only party whose views on these important animal welfare issues weren't known." WSPA Programs Manager, Pat Tohill

"We were pleased to see interest from most parties in updating Canada's federal animal cruelty law. Our current animal cruelty law under the Criminal Code of Canada is ineffective and out-of-date, as are a number of other laws such as those pertaining to the humane transport of animals." WSPA Programs Manager, Pat Tohill

"When it comes to modernizing animal cruelty laws in step with modern thinking on animals and the importance of their welfare, the federal law is falling behind other countries and even some provinces that have moved to update and improve their own animal protection acts in recent years." WSPA Programs Manager, Pat Tohill

About the World Society for the Protection of Animals: For 30 years, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has been working to end animal suffering and cruelty.  WSPA's presence in more than 160 countries is a testament to our commitment to creating a world where animal welfare matters and to ending animal cruelty for good. We bring about change at both grassroots and governmental levels and we support and develop high-profile campaigns, scientifically-backed projects and innovative education initiatives.  With our partners, governments and international agencies, WSPA also provides relief to animals affected by disasters.

SOURCE World Society for the Protection of Animals

For further information:

For more information, interviews or images please contact:
Elizabeth Sharpe, Communications Manager, WSPA: Tel: (416) 369-0044 x111; Cell: (647) 268-8122; Email: sharpe@wspa.ca

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World Society for the Protection of Animals

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Federal Election 2011

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