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Local MP’s bill to ban horse slaughter defeated in House
B.C. Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko’s bill to restrict the slaughter of horses for meat was defeated 155-102 in the House of Commons last week.
The private member’s bill would have prohibited the slaughter of horses for human consumption except in cases of horses specifically raised for meat and accompanied by documentation of their medical history.
The bill was put to a recorded vote on May 14 with most Conservative MPs voting against it. Liberals voted to support it. Atamanenko’s NDP colleagues mostly supported his bill, despite the leadership of his party taking a position to oppose it.
Atamanenko praises two Conservative MPs, John Weston and Kyle Seeback, for being “courageous enough” to defy that party’s Whip and support his bill.
Although 11 NDP MPs voted against Atamanenko’s bill, including Leader Thomas Mulcair, former leader Nicole Turmel and agriculture critic Malcolm Allen, most of the 99-member NDP caucus sided with the local MP.
Atamanenko has promoted Bill C-571 as an issue of food safety, arguing that drugs administered, especially to race horses, over their lives make their meat unsafe for human consumption.
“Horses are commonly and even routinely administered a long list of common medications labelled as toxic and not intended for use in food animals because no safe limits or withdrawal periods have been established,” said Atamanenko. “Unlike the cattle industry where food production is its primary purpose, the horse slaughter for meat industry exists to dispose of the industrial by-product from the equine sporting industry where abuse and overuse of drugs is rampant.”
Atamanenko is saddened that his bill won’t move forward to committee where it could be reviewed on its merits.
With MPs normally having just one chance per parliament to introduce a private bill or motion and with Atamanenko not running for re-election, his initiative is effectively dead until someone else revives it.
“This was my last kick at the can so to speak,” Atamanenko said.