Canada urged to ban testing of cosmetics on animals; more than half a million sign petition

Animal rights advocates gathered alongside parliamentarians on Centre Block on Monday to demand an end to the testing of cosmetics on animals. Amanda Connolly/Global News

The time has come for Canada to ban the testing of cosmetics on animals. That was the message brought to Parliament Hill on Monday by dozens of animal rights’ activists who took part in a rally led by The Body Shop Canada to present parliamentarians with one of the largest petitions in Canadian history.

READ MORE: EU bans sale of all animal-tested cosmetics

More than 630,000 people signed a petition organized by the company, which does not test on animals, demanding an end to cosmetics testing on animals.

Organizers pointed to a similar move by the European Union in 2013.

The 27-member economic bloc banned the sale of cosmetics developed using animal testing, including testing that took place in other countries where doing so is legal.

Those rules also ban the marketing within the European Union of cosmetic products tested on animals.

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Now, they said, it is long overdue that Canada follows suit.

“There is absolutely no need for cosmetic animal testing in 2018,” said Toby Milton, president of The Body Shop Canada to those gathered at the rally.

“This is the largest petition to ever be presented in Canada since Canadians made petitions for a bill of rights over 60 years ago.”

Options such as 3D skin models are routinely now used to test cosmetics without inflicting pain on animals.

READ MORE: Calgary researchers use MRIs to reduce medical testing on rats and mice

Members of Parliament from all the main political parties spoke to the rally and offered their support.

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Among them was Sen. Carolyn Stewart Olsen, who currently has a bill — S-214 — before the Senate that seeks to ban animal testing in cosmetics.

That bill is currently undergoing third reading, which is the final stage of deliberation before the Senate votes on whether to pass the legislation.

If passed, it would go to the House of Commons for examination and begin the process of moving through that chamber.

Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, Conservative MP Michelle Rempel and NDP MPs Murray Rankin and Sheila Malcolmson also took part and encouraged activists to continue pushing for change.

“We know tackling animal cruelty is non-partisan,” said Erskine-Smith, who called the Senate bill a “starting point” to begin making progress on banning animal testing.

READ MORE: MEPs vote for global ban on cosmetic animal testing

Rempel pointed to statistics that suggest 80 per cent of Canadians oppose testing cosmetics on animals and said organizers have her support as they push for a ban.

“Canadians overwhelmingly support this,” she said.

“When Canadians lift their voice in something and lift their voice to this extent, parliamentarians listen.”

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Rempel also noted with the implementation of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) there will be a need to harmonize regulations around matters including cosmetics testing.

The agreement went into provisional effect in September 2017.

Rankin also pledged support for the bill and said the ball is now in the court of parliamentarians.

“It’s up to us now in Parliament to respond to what you’ve started.”

Earlier this month, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to push for a global ban on animal testing in cosmetics.

That vote, held on the fifth anniversary of the vote to ban cosmetics tested on animals from the bloc, aimed to get member states to agree to push others outside of the European Union to adopt bans of their own.

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