By: Katelyn Bell, Summer Law Student
Poutine, a favourite among many Canadians. While some aren’t too adventurous with the meal and tend to stick with the common-yet-delicious cheese curds (me), others will go further and add bacon to the mix, or chicken, or even macaroni and cheese. And then there are some Canadians who would even take it one step further, and would eat their poutine with squirrel meat.
Yes…. you read that correctly. Squirrel meat.
Martin Poirier, a 21-year-old hunter and university student from Quebec has recently made news following the launch of his formal petition, which asks the Province of Quebec to make squirrel hunting legal.
According to the student, squirrel meat is good for you.
As the law stands today, Quebecers are prohibited from hunting squirrel, which is what led Poirier to launch his petition. Surprisingly, the law in Quebec is contrary to that in many other Canadian jurisdictions, where squirrel hunting (and eating) is permissible.
In British Columbia for example, gray and fox squirrels can be captured and killed at any time. Similarly, in Alberta, several species of squirrels can be hunted without a permit. Ontario however, has more stringent rules related to squirrel hunting. Though it is not illegal to hunt squirrels in Ontario, there is a cap on daily kills, and specific rules for hunting with and without a falconry bird.
The Canadian government regulates recreational hunting in order to ensure that certain species of animals are protected, and that others are appropriately hunted. If an individual were to violate the hunting regulations in their province, they would be subject to significant fines. In Ontario, these fines can be issued under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act and the Ontario Fishery Regulations.
The fines handed out for hunting violations can be quite significant, so it’s no wonder Poirier wants to make squirrel hunting legal. However, it takes more than a petition to change the law. The Quebec legislature considers specific legal issues and should they so choose, votes them into law. This is done in a number of stages in the Assembly and in parliamentary committee.
Whether the legislature will approve of squirrel hunting remains to be seen. The issue is expected to be tabled in the Quebec National Assembly this fall.
All this to say, it’s going to be quite a while—if ever—that you will be able to indulge in squirrel meat poutine in Quebec.
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