Bill aimed at reducing animal health risks from trespassers receives final approval from House of Commons

The private member’s bill that aims to reduce the risk of biosecurity breaches from trespassers on farms has received final approval in the House of Commons.

Bill C-275, brought forward by Conservative shadow minister for agriculture John Barlow, would update the Health of Animals Act to make it an offence to enter a place where animals are kept without permission if doing so could expose them to a disease or contaminant.

278 MPs — all Conservatives, all Bloc members, and most Liberals, including Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay — voted in favour of the bill at third reading on Wednesday. All NDP and Green MPs in the chamber, as well as a few Liberals, tallied 36 votes against.

To discourage activists from entering farms and putting animals at risk, the bill would enable the government to levy six-figure fines on individuals and organizations who commit an offence.

A long list of farm and commodity groups, including the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Canadian Cattle Association, Canadian Pork Council, Dairy Farmers of Canada, and Egg Farmers of Canada, support the legislation.

Animal rights groups, meanwhile, are opposed, arguing it targets activists who expose animal cruelty through undercover investigations.

Barlow’s bill now heads to the Senate where it faces an uncertain timeline, with a federal election to be held by October 2025 at the latest looming in the background.

An earlier version of the bill — C-205 — died at the House of Commons’ committee stage when the federal election was called in the summer of 2021.

Related:

Farm trespassing bill re-introduced in Parliament

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