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Montreal Just Elected an Animal-Friendly Mayor

Animal Justice November 6, 2017

Animals won big-time in Montreal’s municipal elections this weekend! Voters elected mayoral candidate Valérie Plante of Projet Montréal, and sent incumbent mayor Denis Coderre packing. Not only does mayor-elect Plante become the first woman to lead Montreal, she is also promising to make animal protection a priority while in office.

Animal protection laws were a hot topic in Montreal in the lead-up to the elections. Outgoing mayor Coderre has a bad track record on animals—his administration was heavily criticized by animal advocates for implementing a misguided ban on pit bull-type dogs. The ban is considered unenforceable by authorities, is harmful to dogs, and is widely considered ineffective in making communities safer.

Projet Montréal has committed to repealing the pit bull ban, and implementing fair and effective solutions to promote safer communities through responsible dog care.

Plante’s party has also promised to do away with horse-drawn carriages on city streets. Horses are forced to pull heavy carts in dangerous weather conditions on congested downtown streets, and a series of horse injuries has left many Montrealers calling for an outright ban on the outdated industry.

As the Montreal SPCA’s executive director Élise Saulnier noted, “Citizens of Montreal expect to see big changes in animal welfare and services in their city during the tenure of Mayor Plante.”

Animal protection laws are increasingly becoming a voting issue, and it’s incredibly encouraging that Montreal voters supported a candidate whose party is committed to improving municipal animal protection. The Montreal elections are a clear signal to all politicians that citizens expect our representatives to make animal issues a priority.

 

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CFIA Cracks Down on Meat Cut Mislabelling, But Ignores Animal Suffering

Animal Justice October 17, 2017

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) just fined a meat company $200,000 for five counts of false labelling. The fine was imposed after Eastern Meat Solutions was busted for packaging beef products as prime rib, Angus, and sirloin—when they were not.

This fine is part of a larger, worrying trend by Canada’s food industry regulator: The CFIA prioritizes enforcement when business interests are affected, but neglects enforcement when animal suffering is at stake.

Animal Justice works to expose the epidemic of false animal welfare claims by companies doing business in Canada, along with countless duped consumers, and a nonexistent government response. We filed consumer protection complaints against slaughterhouse Maple Lodge Farms for claiming to treat chickens humanely even while on probation for illegal animal cruelty. We went after supermarket chain Safeway for marketing chicken meat as “certified humane,” even though genetically manipulated birds are crowded in dark warehouses and deprived of everything that makes life worth living. And we caught the Dairy Farmers of Canada red-handed for running deceptive dairy ads disguised as public health announcements. Despite this long list of violations, the CFIA has refused to prosecute or fine companies for false animal welfare claims.

Earlier this year, we told you that the CFIA is overhauling food labelling regulations. One planned change is that it will be easier for food companies to mislead consumers about animal welfare claims like “free range” and “grass fed.” The CFIA plans to make animal welfare claims its lowest enforcement priority, encouraging consumers to take their questions and concerns to the food companies rather than law enforcement. But consumers have no way to verify claims made by companies, which stand to benefit financially from misleading consumers.

But labelling isn’t the CFIA’s only problem—it routinely underenforces animal transport regulations, too. Meat and egg companies often truck animals long distances in freezing cold or blistering hot weather—illegally allowing animals to suffer to death from weather exposure, lack of ventilation, or crowding. Yet transporters typically only face a measly few thousand dollars in fines for these violations—even when an offender has already racked up dozens of prior offences.

Food fraud is wrong, and meat companies should be held accountable for misleading consumers about product quality. But animal suffering is far more troubling, especially when companies lie to consumers about it so they support it financially. In these cases, the animal victims endure physical and emotional agony—not just a lower-quality meal.

If you agree that the life-and-death treatment of sentient animals is more important than the quality of someone’s steak dinner, please write to federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAuley: lawrence.macaulay@parl.gc.ca. He needs to hear that the CFIA’s enforcement priorities do not represent the values of caring Canadians.

 

 

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Supreme Court of B.C. Grants Animal Justice & Zoocheck Leave to Intervene in Vancouver Aquarium Lawsuit

Animal Justice September 11, 2017

VANCOUVER – The Supreme Court of British Columbia has granted Animal Justice and Zoocheck leave to intervene intervene in the Vancouver Aquarium’s lawsuit against the Vancouver Park Board. The two organizations argued in court for the ability to intervene on Friday, September 8 with the favourable decision coming down late in the day.

The Aquarium is seeking to strike down the Park Board bylaw banning the Aquarium from confining whales, dolphins, and porpoises in its facility in Stanley Park. Animal Justice and Zoocheck will focus on dismantling the Aquarium’s troubling legal argument that confining cetaceans is a form of expression protected under section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

If confining animals for entertainment is found to be a constitutionally-protected form of expression, there could be drastic consequences for animals. It would become difficult, if not impossible, to pass laws protecting animals from being confined as those laws would be vulnerable to legal challenge.

“The Aquarium’s freedom of expression claim in this disturbing lawsuit could permanently undermine animal protection laws right across Canada,” said Camille Labchuk, lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice. “Animal Justice and Zoocheck are pleased the court has recognized that our perspective, on behalf of animals, must be heard. We will argue in court to protect whales and dolphins, and other animals across the country, from the suffering they endure in captivity.”

Animal Justice and Zoocheck will submit to the court that confining cetaceans should not be considered ‘expression’. The organizations rely on well-established case law stating that expression that is violent or is connected with violence is not protected by section 2(b) of the Charter. Capturing and confining whales and dolphins are forms of violence, in that they involve the coercion and involuntary captivity of living beings who have complex thought, the ability to suffer, and the capacity for self-determination. Confining cetaceans has been shown to cause significant physical and psychological harm to them.

Animal Justice is a national animal law non-profit that leads the legal fight for animals in Canada. Zoocheck is a Canadian-based international charity that works to protect wild animals in captivity and in the wild. Animal Justice and Zoocheck are represented by lawyers Arden Beddoes of Farris Vaughan Wills & Murphy LLP, and Benjamin Oliphant of Gall Legge Grant Zwack LLP.

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The Animal Justice and Zoocheck application to intervene can be downloaded here.

The Aquarium’s petition can be downloaded here.

The Parks Board’s response to the petition can be downloaded here.

For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

 

Animal Justice

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