By G. Chambers, SFBCA Vice Chairman
“1. (1) A person has a right to hunt and fish in accordance with the law”
Ontario Heritage Hunting and Fishing Act (2002)
The Heritage Hunting and Fishing Act (2002) recognizes that recreational hunting and fishing have played important roles in shaping Ontario’s social, cultural and economic heritage, and more importantly that these activities will continue to do so into the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, there are people, organizations and even lawmakers who seek to undermine our rights as hunters and anglers.
Case in point, back in April 2016, Bill C-246 , the Modernizing Animal Protection Act, a private members bill, was introduced to ban cruel practices such as shark-finning (the removal of the fin from live sharks for the use in soups, traditional cures, etc). Unfortunately, sections of the bill left the door open to make a number of legal activities, like fishing, a target for charges of animal cruelty:
“182.1 (1) Everyone commits an offence who, willfully or recklessly, (b) kills an animal or, being the owner, permits an animal to be killed, brutally or viciously, regardless of whether the animal dies immediately;”
Section 182.1 (1) of the act could potentially make it illegal to catch and kill a fish. Even the baiting of a hook with a worm had the potential turn an angler into animal abuser.
While I believe the intent of the bill was well meaning, it was so open ended that it left too much room for interpretation, especially against the lawful activities of anglers and hunters. Fortunately members of Parliament voted down Bill C-246 by a margin of 198 to 84 back in October 2016. (How did your MP Vote? https://www.ofah.org/issues/animalcruelty/).
it’s often said that the easiest way to take someone’s rights away is to do it little by little over time. In this way, the people won’t notice the loss of their rights until it’s too late to change back. It’s for this reason that anglers need to remain vigilant against anyone, however well intentioned, who says or does anything that infringes on our rights to fish. We owe it to our sport and we owe it to future generations of anglers.