Bill McDonald hauled a garbage bag half full of paper into the deputy agriculture minister’s office last week to press his case against sow gestation stalls in Manitoba.
The bag contained petitions carrying over 10,000 signatures demanding the province pass laws to eliminate the stalls.
“We thought it was significant to show the government physically what 10,000 signatures look like,” said McDonald, CEO of the Winnipeg Humane Society.
The humane society collected the signatures at public events over the last five years after launching its “Quit Stalling” campaign to abolish sow stalls.
“Science and common sense say sow stalls are cruel and unnecessary. Pigs should live in group housing with straw and sufficient space to exercise and enjoy a healthful and decent life. We look forward to your response,” the humane society’s petition read.
McDonald met with Deputy Minister Barry Todd and provincial veterinarian Dr. Wayne Lees Nov. 22 to present the petition and press its case for legislation to banning sow stalls in Manitoba in favour of open housing.
The humane society notes cages for pregnant sows will soon be illegal in Europe and that voters in seven U.S. states have passed referenda calling for their elimination.
Several large food companies, including Maple Leaf Foods in Canada, say they will eventually phase out the use of sow stalls in producing pork products while Cole’s Supermarkets, a large Australian grocery chain, recently announced it will not import pork from countries that use sow stalls.
It’s just a matter of time before such measures come to Canada, said McDonald.
“I think producers need to think about this happening more rapidly than they had before,” he said.
Provincial veterinarian Dr. Wayne Lees suggested there’s no need to legislate against sow stalls because the industry itself is gradually moving in that direction.
“The momentum is building on that and I think it’ll happen,” Lees said.
But McDonald said his group will continue to lobby for legislation to ensure companies who promise to get rid of sow stalls actually do so. [email protected]
– DR. WAYNE LEES, MAFRI