The Globe & Mail reports that the Prime Minister’s office is supporting a bill brought forward by Liberal Tim Louis on Sept. 19th which aims to ban the transport of live horses to Japan for slaughter. Louis is a member of the standing committee on agriculture, who has been canvassing the House of Commons for support, which has been received from all parties, including the Conservatives.
Since 2013, approximately 45,000 horses ‒ primarily draft breeds and crosses ‒ have been flown abroad to be fattened up for slaughter to make basashi, a raw sliced horsemeat dish served in high-end Japanese restaurants. The journey can take up to 28 hours (the limit under the Canadian Health of Animals Regulations) without the animals being offered food or water.
Justin Trudeau promised to ban the live export of horses for slaughter in 2021 but since then horse welfare groups including the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition have accused the government of back-pedalling.
The new private member’s bill was discussed in a meeting in July between Trudeau and Canadian singer-songwriter Jann Arden, a vocal proponent of the campaign to end live export of horses for meat. “We have been working tirelessly for many years for the opportunity to show Canadians that this is an unnecessary and incredibly cruel business,” Arden told the Globe & Mail, adding that the Prime Minister had told her that using a private member’s bill would expedite a law change more quickly. The bill would also outlaw the export of horses to be fattened for slaughter, levelling a $250,000 fine or two years in jail.
Unfortunately, horse sashimi is big business; in just the last five years, 14,500-plus horses have been flown from airports in Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg to Japan, valued at around $93 million, according to Statistics Canada. Kayako IIda, first secretary at the Japanese embassy, has indicated that while Japan “recognizes the importance of animal welfare” they hope that “the needed trade will continue by transport measures that meet international standards.”
The PM’s office has promised to speed the bill through the Commons. Spokeswoman Ann-Clara Vaillancourt said in the G&M article, “We promised in 2021 to ban the live export of horses for slaughter, and we remain committed to getting this done… Banning the export of live horses for slaughter remains a priority for us.”