BY JOSHUA VAN OSTRAND
For the first time ever, the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society has endorsed a political candidate looking to get his paws in parliament. The local humane society endorsed Earl Grey, a Halifax cat and the current leader of the Tuxedo Party of Canada Cat Welfare Society.
While not really running for office, it is hoped the cat’s campaign raises awareness for animal rights issues in Canada. That’s something that’s important to the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society.
“The platform is that there are two key issues: strengthening Canada’s laws that are outdated to animal cruelty and establishing an accessible spay and neuter initiative across the country,” said Heidi Christensen, who oversees marketing and promotions for the humane society. “What we’re looking for is affordable spay and neuter programs.”
According to a video produced by the party, animal cruelty laws haven’t changed in Canada since 1892. The group is looking to change that and they may have the support they need to make animal rights laws stronger in Canada’s federal law.
All around Waterloo Region, political signs for Earl Grey have been popping up on lawns with the campaign’s slogan, “Who will stand on guard for me?” The signs are available from the humane society as part of the campaign. Money from the sales goes to spaying and neutering stray animals to control overpopulation in Halifax, Earl Grey’s hometown.
“I have animals myself. Seeing some of the things that other people do (to animals) and that other people deem right seems very unfair,” said Meagan McDougall, an accounting student at Conestoga College.
In addition to signs, the campaign is running a contest to vote for Earl Grey’s cabinet. Cat owners are asked to upload images of their cats as candidates and to donate in order to vote for their favourites. The contest’s goal is to raise $25,000 in donations for improving animal welfare in Canada.
This is the third foray into government that the Tuxedo Party has made. In 2012, Earl Grey’s littermate, Tuxedo Stan, ran for mayor of Halifax. After unsuccessfully running for mayor, the city council voted unanimously to donate money to the SPCA for upgrades to surgery rooms for a low-cost spay and neuter program.
After Tuxedo Sam passed away, Earl Grey took up the mantle as candidate and ran for premier of Nova Scotia. He lost by a landslide but the province’s animals still struck a decisive victory when the provincial government passed a revised version of the Nova Scotia Animal Protection Act.
Now that Earl Grey is running for parliament, he hopes to see federal change in animal cruelty laws similar to the laws in Nova Scotia: stronger policies against animal abuse, a higher importance on spay and neuter programs and equal rights for both pets and stray animals.