Hockey icon Don Cherry pitches tough new animal cruelty bill

Don Cherry is known as Canada’s tough-talking hockey commentator, but deep down he’s a big softie — at least when it comes to animals.

The former NHL coach and Hockey Night in Canada host is focusing ire on what he calls Canada’s “broken animal cruelty laws.”

“Canada has the worst laws about our poor animals than any other place in the Western World believe it or not,” he says in a a new YouTube video. “We have to end this cruelty. We really do.”

Cherry, who also has a Pet Rescue Foundation, is putting his bench strength behind Bill C-246.

The bill aims to close the “loop holes” that critics say currently allow animal abusers to escape criminal prosecution and convictions. Cherry, known as much for his colourful suits as his commentary, also says nothing meaningful has changed in animal protection in Canada since 1954.

Don Cherry with a rescue dog. Don Cherry's Pet Rescue Foundation/Facebook
Don Cherry with a rescue dog. Don Cherry’s Pet Rescue Foundation/Facebook

Ontario Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith is spearheading the private member’s bill, which had second reading in the House of Commons this week.

“When I introduced this legislation, I said that members from all parties support ending animal cruelty,” Erskine-Smith told Parliament. “I do not think this is a partisan issue and I do not think it should be.”

The bill tackles a few specific issues.

  • It would impose fur labelling and ban the sale and importation of cat and dog fur or skin.
  • It would outlaw shark finning and outlaw the importation of shark fins, unless they are attached to the rest of the shark.
  • It would also update the Criminal Code to amend bestiality provisions, expand the definition of animal fighting and update animal cruelty rules to include gross negligence. That means criminal law would more effectively capture animal abusers, who are currently avoiding convictions because “willful neglect” needs to be proven.

Visit www.endcruelty.ca for more information or to sign the petition. The bill still has a long way to go.

Cherry’s dog Blue, was almost as famous as he is.

Don Cherry and his beloved Blue in Boston circa 1978/Facebook
Don Cherry and his beloved Blue in Boston circa 1978/Facebook

Here’s more about the bill.

Photos Don Cherry’s Pet Rescue Foundation/Facebook/YouTube

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Recovering newspaper reporter.

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