The relationship between Canada and the US has sometimes been characterized as "sibling rivalry" owing to a sense of competition and, at times, animosity between the two nations. This history was underscored in the lighthearted ribbing between President Obama and Prime Minster Trudeau at a recent state dinner.
Wouldn't it be great if the US and Canada could use some of that competitive energy to see which could end cosmetics testing on animals first?
The United States got an early jump on the issue with the introduction of the Humane Cosmetics Act in 2014, and then reintroduced with new bipartisan support in 2015.
But Canada is not far behind. In June 2015, the Cruelty Free Cosmetics Act (S-234) was introduced in the Canadian Senate that would have prohibited cosmetic animal testing in Canada, and would have ended the sale of cosmetics that had been tested on animals in Canada with prescribed exceptions under the authority of the Health Minister. The bill however, contained a flaw which, in order to be most effective, needed to be addressed. The original bill only prohibited animal testing conducted within Canada's borders. This is a critical point, because the vast majority (about 80%) of cosmetics sold in Canada are imported, and most are imported from the United States. Thankfully when the bill was reintroduced in December 2015 as S-214 the problem we identified was corrected so that the prohibition on animal testing applies to testing done outside of Canada's boarders. Now this is something that Canadians can cheer about.
If this was a competition it's still a long way to the finish line for both the Canadian Cruelty Free Cosmetics Act and the US Humane Cosmetics Act. In each case, the bills must first make their way through their two respective houses - the Senate and House of Commons for Canada, and The House of Representatives and Senate for the US. In each country the process could be sped up if companion bills are introduced in the opposite house. Canada would need a House version, and the US would need a Senate version - this would make it more of a relay race.
The US and Canadian public can do more than just cheer from the sidelines - they can play an important role in speeding up the process by contacting their elected officials to let them know that ending cosmetics testing on animals is important to them.
Canadians can find contact information for their Senator and Member of Parliament here. US residents can find contact information for their Senators and House Representatives here
Personally, if it were a cruelty free legislation competition between the two countries, I'd have to root for both sides because at the end, no matter who gets there first, the animals win.