Government of Canada announces measures to strengthen legal protections for children, vulnerable individuals, and animals

News release

October 18, 2018 - Ottawa, Ontario - Department of Justice Canada

Canadians deserve and expect a society where our laws fully protect children and other vulnerable individuals from all forms of abuse and violence. Likewise, our laws must appropriately address all aspects of animal fighting and bestiality.

Today, the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, introduced legislation that will update the Criminal Code to strengthen protections for children, other vulnerable individuals, and animals by broadening the scope of the bestiality and animal fighting offences.

The Supreme Court of Canada’s 2016 decision in R v DLW  identified a gap in the law, in terms of protections for children and other vulnerable individuals who may be compelled by another person to commit or witness sexual acts with animals. Bill C-84 proposes to address this gap by adding a definition to the bestiality provisions to make clear that the offence prohibits any contact for a sexual purpose between a person and an animal.  

In addition, Bill C-84 introduces measures to strengthen existing animal cruelty offences that relate to animal fighting. Proposed changes will ban a broader range of activities associated with animal fighting, such as promoting, arranging, and profiting off animal fighting, as well as breeding, training or transporting an animal to fight. In addition, the bill will prohibit the keeping of any arena for the purpose of animal fighting, not just cockfighting as the law currently stands. The proposed measures will protect all animals and capture all activities that support animal fighting. These changes will improve the ability to prosecute criminals, track animal fighting cases, and protect public safety. 

Bill C-84 is the result of consultations with relevant stakeholders and conversations with Canadians. It represents a common ground approach to ensuring the protection of children and animals from cruelty and abuse, while ensuring the law does not interfere with legitimate and traditional farming, hunting, and trapping practices, including Indigenous harvesting rights.


“Canadians have been asking for changes to our animal cruelty laws and today, our Government is responding. This legislation is an important first step in updating the Criminal Code to fill a gap in our laws identified by the Supreme Court of Canada and by stakeholders across the country. This Bill will better protect animals from cruelty and violence, as well as strengthen protections for our children and vulnerable individuals.”

The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada 

Quick facts

  • In June 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada held in R v DWL that the existing bestiality offences only prohibit sex acts with animals in cases where there is penetration, because the Criminal Code did not otherwise define it.

  • By ensuring that all forms of bestiality are prohibited, penetrative and otherwise, the criminal justice system will be better able to protect victims, prosecute criminals, track the criminal history of these offenders, and provide important information to prosecutors and the courts.

  • Research has found strong correlations between animal cruelty offences and other crimes, such as sexual assault. 

  • Animal fighting has often been linked to organized crime, including illegal gambling and the illicit trafficking of drugs and weapons. 

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For more information, media may contact:

Célia Canon
Communications Advisor
Office of the Minister of Justice

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada

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