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Animal Justice Seeks to Intervene in Legal Challenge to Ontario Animal Protection Laws

Animal Justice April 19, 2018

Media Advisory

PERTH, Ontario—National animal law non-profit Animal Justice will ask an Ontario court tomorrow for permission to intervene in a lawsuit that attempts to strike down key aspects of provincial animal welfare laws.

Where: Superior Court of Justice, 43 Drummond Street East, Perth, Ontario
When: Friday, April 20th, 10 am
Who: Animal Justice, represented by executive director Camille Labchuk

The case, Bogaerts v. Attorney General of Ontario, is a constitutional challenge to Ontario’s provincial animal welfare legislation and its enforcement. Specifically, the applicant is asking the court to rule that:

  • granting police powers to the Ontario SPCA, a private charity, violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms because the Ontario SPCA is not subject to transparency, oversight, and accountability measures that apply to other law enforcement agencies;
  • search and seizure powers used to protect animals and investigate animal welfare offences are too broad, violate the Charter, and should be struck down; and
  • animal protection offences in provincial law are criminal in nature and fall outside provincial powers, thus unlawfully intruding on federal jurisdiction.

Animal Justice is seeking to intervene because the case has wide-ranging implications for the millions of animals in Ontario confined in farms, fur farms, zoos, and aquariums. The case could also have national ramifications, potentially affecting the validity of animal protection laws and enforcement in other provinces.

If granted leave to intervene, Animal Justice will argue that animals must be protected to the maximum extent possible under the law. To that end, Animal Justice shares many of the applicant’s concerns oger the transparency, oversight, and accountability of animal law enforcement. However, Animal Justice believes that broad search and seizure powers are necessary in the unique context of protecting animals, who are often kept behind closed doors and cannot report illegal abuse themselves.

Animal Justice is represented by lawyers Arden Beddoes of Arvay Finlay LLP, and Benjamin Oliphant of Gall Legge Grant Zwack LLP. Animal Justice’s executive director Camille Labchuk will appear in court tomorrow on behalf of the organization.

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More information about Bogaerts v Attorney General of Ontario is available on a website maintained by the applicant, found here.

Animal Justice’s application to intervene is available upon request.

For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

Animal Justice

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Authorities Refuse to Crack Down on Misleading Milk Ads

Animal Justice March 21, 2018

In November 2016, Animal Justice filed complaints with authorities over a misleading ad campaign that suggested that consuming of dairy is essential for human health. The ads, sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Canada, were crafted to appear as public health announcements by several health organizations, including the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Osteoperosis Canada, and Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada. Disturbingly, the ads told Canadians to consume dairy to prevent osteoporosis, colorectal cancer, and hypertension.

According to Dietitians of Canada, it is not necessary to consume fluid cow’s milk, yogurt, or cheese to avoid colorectal cancer, osteoporosis, or heart disease. On the contrary, Dietitians of Canada states that a vegan diet, without dairy, “has many health benefits including lower rates of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.”

Dr. Walter Willet, Chair of Harvard’s Department of Nutrition and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, observes that high dairy intake is not beneficial and may even be harmful. According to Dr. Willet, high dairy consumption is associated with increased risk of prostate and ovarian cancer.

Animal Justice filed false advertising complaints with the Competition Bureau and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)—which are responsible for protecting consumers from fake marketing. Food ads must be truthful so consumers can avoid food fraud and make informed choices.

Last year, the Competition Bureau—the federal consumer protection agency—opened an inquiry into the false ads. However, Animal Justice just received bad news—the Commissioner of Competition dropped the inquiry.

Laws protecting farmed animals in Canada are weak or often don’t exist in the first place. Even when laws offer some protections to animals, they are badly under-enforced. That’s why Animal Justice lawyers get creative to protect animals. We use false advertising laws to crack down on the meat, dairy, and egg industries. We’re dismayed that our legal complaints have not resulted in justice.

But we’re not ready to give up. Next, we’ll file requests under freedom of information legislation to find out why authorities fail to act. As long as farmed animals are confined in appalling conditions and food companies get away with lying about their products, we will use whatever legal tools are available to fight for animals.

 

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Animal Justice

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Animal Protection Groups Ask to Intervene in Vancouver Aquarium Lawsuit

Animal Justice August 16, 2017

VANCOUVER – Animal Justice and Zoocheck are seeking leave at the British Columbia Supreme Court to intervene in the Vancouver Aquarium’s lawsuit against the Vancouver Park Board. The Aquarium is suing in an attempt to overturn the bylaw banning the Aquarium from confining whales, dolphins, and porpoises in its facility in Stanley Park.

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. The two organizations filed a joint intervention application this week.

Animal Justice and Zoocheck are deeply troubled by the Aquarium’s legal arguments, in particular the claim that its practice of confining cetaceans in captivity is a form of expression protected under section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

If confining animals in captivity 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.

If granted leave to intervene, Animal Justice and Zoocheck will submit to the court that the capture, captivity, and confinement of 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.

“The Aquarium’s freedom of expression claim in this troubling lawsuit could permanently undermine animal protection laws right across Canada,” said Camille Labchuk, lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice.  “We hope to have an opportunity to explain this to the court.”

Animal Justice and Zoocheck are represented by lawyers Arden Beddoes of Farris Vaugh Wils & 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, Animal Justice
camille@animaljustice.ca

Julie Woodyer
Campaigns Director
julie@zoocheck.com

Animal Justice

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