In a nutshell, MacLaren is proposing that the OSPCA be stripped of much of its policing power. While the OSPCA will investigate cases of cruelty against non-farm animals it is proposed that farm animal investigations be undertaken by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). Further, it proposes that the OSPCA and OMAFRA will have investigating powers only, and actual charges and arrests will be left in the hands of the OPP and local police forces.
THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOT ONE GOOD REASON TO SUPPORT THIS BILL!
Clearly MacLaren is attempting to gain favour from his constituents. He is a politician and that is his right, but he DOES NOT have the right to so at the expense of animals in this province. Does the OSPCA need overhauling? Of course it does, and Ontarians have echoed this sentiment for years. The organization has to have a clear line drawn when it comes to serving as both a policing force and an animal shelter. Without separating these two duties, the OSPCA will continue to exist with a clear conflict of interest.
MacLaren has indeed spoken of the conflict of interest in the OSPCA. He has that one right, yet what he fails to admit is that giving authority of farm animal investigations to the OMAFRA is no less of a conflict of interest. This is the organization put in place to PROTECT the interests of farmers, some of whom are undoubtedly abusing their animals right now! Rest assured MacLaren knows this, and is clearly more concerned about his own political agenda than animal welfare.
Above all, the bill simply adds more red tape to investigations of animal cruelty. Guess what? The OPP and local police have more than enough on their hands and simply don't have the time to worry about animal abuse, especially while we have the OSPCA to do this for us. If only the OSPCA could do it right.
The most troubling aspect of the bill? That would be the statement, "Enforcement will be done by the OPP or local police force ONLY after abuse has been substantiated and reported on by the inspectors. Police force enforcement to stop actual abuse should be few and far between." How does MacLaren not see the damage he has done with the last sentence? Really? Few and far between? The only reason for police actions to be "few and far between" would be if ACTUAL CASES of abuse were also few and far between. Unfortunately this isn't the case in our province. MacLaren outdoes himself when he proposes the investigators can only look into a situation once they've been granted permission by the alleged abuser, as in his mind it's quite common for animal abusers to welcome authorities with open arms.
MacLaren says he wants to fix the OSPCA, but in reality he wants the organization to leave the farmers alone. If he truly wanted to fix the OSPCA, he would have put forth a bill calling for separation of policing and shelter duties (as MPP Klees did nearly two years ago), more training for enforcement agents, independent vets not paid by the OSPCA, and an external, independent board to review the actions of the OSPCA. Yet MacLaren sees fit to fix the problems with the OSPCA by simply transferring the powers to another organization.
If Jack MacLaren has any respect for the animals of this province, he will withdraw this bill. In the meantime, animal lovers and activists will continue to fight against him. Jack MacLaren may have a few constituents on his side, but the animals of Ontario have thousands upon thousands of Ontarians on theirs. I have a feeling as to who'll be victorious in the end.