TORONTO, CANADA – Is the coat you love to wear every day made from a cat?
Before you scramble to look at the tag, know this: No one has to tell you if it really is.
However, Toronto MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith is out to change that.
The Beaches-East York MP has tabled a private member’s bill which would ban the importation of cat and dog fur and require labels telling consumers what kind of fur is on their garments.
For years, animal rights activists have warned that dog and cat fur enters the Canadian fashion market, mainly from China, and is sold to unknowing customers.
“There are no statistics, as far as I can tell, because it really is an underground market,” Erskine-Smith said. “It’s not an illegal market, for the moment, but it’s not well-publicized.”
Most countries, including the U.S., instituted bans on cat and dog fur many years ago. Canada, on the other hand, hasn’t taken any such action.
In Toronto, dog fur-lined jackets have turned up in various police investigations of counterfeit goods. Toronto police seized a number of knock-off parkas with German Shepard-lined hoods back in 2012 as part of a counterfeit crackdown.
Unfortunately, Erskine-Smith’s legislation isn’t likely to change the use of dog fur in counterfeit goods, but it may hopefully impact the legal garment market.
“It’s a good start,” he said.
In addition to restricting cat and dog fur, Erskine-Smith’s bill would then make illegal to “recklessly” cause harm to an animal or kill one “without lawful excuse,” something that’s landed the rookie MP in hot water with his rural colleagues.
Robert Sopuck, Conservative MP for Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa, has accused Erskine-Smith, who happens to be vegan, of trying to make activities like hunting and fishing completely illegal.
The Conservative MP said Erskine-Smith has a “hidden agenda, which is the complete elimination of all animal use in Canada.”
Erskine-Smith has denied the allegations, and said he even sat down with Sopuck to discuss the bill before taking it to Ottawa.