Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What Does Frank Klees' Decision Mean For Animal Welfare In Ontario?

OSPCA Rally at Queen's Park
Yesterday, news broke that Newmarket-Aurora PC MPP Frank Klees is putting his name forward to possibly serve as the next Speaker Of The House in the Ontario legislature. While a vote won't be held until mid-November, Klees' decision has created quite a stir in our province's political landscape, First, there are many who feel as though Klees is turning his back on his Progressive Conservatives. This stems from the fact that as it stands right now, the Liberals hold a minority government, outnumbered 54-53. Were Klees to become Speaker, the opposing sides in the legislature would be tied 53-53. What makes this decision so impactful is the fact that with a dead even legislature, Klees himself would serve as the deciding vote on many issues (so many are up in arms as traditionally, the Speaker votes alongside the governing party, though Klees himself has stated that he would vote based on his own feelings toward an issue). Obviously, you don't need to look far to read or listen to thousands of media reports and editorials on Klees' decision, yet what no one has discussed yet is the ramifications that Klees' decision will have on animal welfare issues in Ontario, and especially the OSPCA.

As many know, last November Frank Klees introduced a resolution in the Ontario legislature, calling for provincial oversight of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA), and for the organization to separate its status as BOTH a registered charity and an investigative unit within Ontario (I've spoken on this before, but to those asking why this is an issue, I'll pose the question : Would you see a conflict if the OPP decided that in addition to serving and protecting the public, at the same time they became a charity soliciting donations from them?). The resolution had been supported by dozens of MPPs, and THOUSANDS of signatures had been collected from Ontario citizens. In fact, it is my understanding that NEVER BEFORE IN THE HISTORY OF THE ONTARIO LEGISLATURE had a resolution been welcomed with such widespread support. That is, of course, until the majority Liberal party voted against the resolution.

Unfortunately, the vote set the clock back a bit from the tremendous momentum toward bettering animal welfare within Ontario. Now, with Klees seemingly wanting to change positions, many are fearful that their most staunch supporter over the last year and a half has left them, and the animals, out in the cold.

To those people I simply say, "FEAR NOT!"

For starters, Frank Klees has, over the last 18 months, proven himself to be one of the most, if not the most prominent critic of the OSPCA (I say this with all due respect to every other MPP who has pushed for change). Say for instance another resolution demanding reform of the OSPCA is introduced in the legislature, and the voting results in a tie. Which way do you really think Klees will be voting? Though some may fear he would switch his vote (I myself do not believe so), do you really think he would vote against such a resolution - on an issue that he has been fighting so hard for the last year and a half?

It is also very important to remember that though Klees has been integral in fighting for changes to the OSPCA, he is not the only MPP speaking out on animal welfare in the province. Just take a look at Cheri DiNovo (NDP), who has long been championing the right of Pit Bulls, and the need to repeal Breed Specific Legislation. As long as there are problems with animal welfare in Ontario, there will be elected representatives to take on the fight.

Most important, and what seems to be frustrating me the most, is the fact that many of YOU, as animal lovers, are not giving yourselves enough credit. Do you know what thousands of letters, Facebook groups, blog posts, phone calls, and emails amount to? They amount to the banning on the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet stores. They amount to a ban on Shark fin soup. They amount to every Canadian medical school ceasing the use of live animals in experiments. I do believe that yes, one day (hopefully sooner than later), they will amount to a repeal of Breed Specific legislation, and they will amount to an OSPCA that is transparent with the public, monitored by the government, and will hopefully serve as a beacon for animal welfare in Ontario and beyond.

That isn't to say our work is easier or harder. Striving for improved animal welfare in Ontario will always be an unending task, and one that sometimes seems unattainable. But if we keep writing letters, making phone calls, sending emails, and debating the issues, needy animals in this province will reap amazing rewards paw by paw.

Please feel free to share your thoughts by commenting on this post and remember, "Why shop when you can adopt?"


  1. Thanks for this encourging article, we have made strides, that is for sure. Frank Klees running for Speaker of the House, just breaks my heart knowing that the possibility of another four years of Breed Discrimination Laws. The continuing senseless slaughter of thousands more non offending family dogs, that do not deserve such a fate is deeply offends me to my very core. I have seen the deep felt hurt many of these effected families have endured with this senseless, harsh, absurb law. Mr. Klees has be personally very upset with his decision. I for one will be watching very carefully, is it the perks or the required changes that may occur? We will see, sadly in the meantime the animals unjustly suffer.

  2. I am so sorry for the pain you have suffered as a result of seeing the pitties suffer. You are not alone in your quest and please don't ever think you are sailing the ship solo. There are many of us who will continue to fight for the pitties and all the other animals of Ontario who so badly need us, no matter what happens in politics. Having said that, the more information I am getting about this potential move by Mr. Klees, the more encouraged I am. It can work out in a number of ways which I do not feel free to discuss at this time. I will tell you what someone who knows Frank Klees very well told me. This is not a person who likes Klees and as a matter of fact dislikes him strongly. He said no matter what happens, because OSPCA is in Frank Klees backyard, he will never give up the fight. He will be like a puppy with an old slipper and will not stop until he has done everything he can to tear it apart! I hope that makes you feel a little better. There is one thing which I feel I need to add here. It is important that no matter which issue of animal welfare you are fighting for, we must stand together. It doesn't matter if it is a pit bull, a cat, an elephant or a bird. If it is an animal in Ontario, when we fight for one, we fight for them all.

  3. Well stated opinion. I think people tend to react too quickly. Mr. Klees will actually be in a very enviable position when it comes to a tie vote. His causes will not be lost should he be elected as Speaker. Have faith. One correction in above..Ms. Di Novo is an NDP MPP.

  4. just a note: Cheri DiNovo is NDP, not PC.

  5. Thanks so much...I edited that....quite shoddy reporting on my part!! How on earth did I even put that in? grrrr :)

  6. Unfortunately in the case of animal advocacy - the various groups do not stand together. Can you imagine if all the animal groups in our Province stood together, what a strong voice we would be? We would make change - no doubt about it. I am not very hopeful that Mr. Klees will be able to raise the cause if he is Speaker. He may be able to cast a deciding vote if it comes to a tie, but someone must raise the issue in the first place

  7. When a Cabinet Minister or Speaker want to raise an issue in the Legislature, which they are not allowed to do because of their position, they get the a colleague or the Party Whip to submit it for them. That is how they continue to serve their constituents. In the PC case the new Whip is John Yabulski. Yabulski was very supportive during the petition Mr. Kless put out to support the Resolution to bring changes to OSPCA. Many times he stood and read petitions into the record for us. I have no doubt Mr. Yabulski would continue to support anmal welfare

  8. About the sale of puppies...I have noticed that ads for the sale of puppies have been appearing on Facebook. I looked at the page where they originate, and saw many different puppies advertised there, and very little identification of the sellers. I am wondering if puppy mills have found a new way to sell their "product". Does anyone know what's going on with this puppy selling page? The photos in the ads are ultra-cute.

  9. Hi Renate, I thought Facebook took that stuff seriously (in particular the sale of pets)? Hopefully something is done....have you reported any such listings? I think all you need to do is hit "report" under a particular link. So frustrating!!