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Ontario to Provide Public Updates on Recovery Strategies for 37 At-Risk Species

Animal Justice May 8, 2018

TORONTO—Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) will begin providing public updates on progress made in developing recovery strategies for dozens of at-risk species, the Ministry announced alongside Ecojustice and Animal Justice today.

The quarterly updates will be made publicly available on the Ontario.ca website and will provide information on progress towards developing recovery strategies for 37 at-risk species, including the northern bobwhite, black redhorse, gypsy cuckoo bumble bee, Kentucky coffee-tree, and other mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and plants.

The move comes as a result of settlement negotiations between Animal Justice (represented by lawyers from Ecojustice) and the Ministry, arising out of an application for judicial review brought by Animal Justice.

The application sought to ensure that the Ministry created and released recovery strategies for at-risk species, as called for by Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007.

Pursuant to the settlement, Animal Justice and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry have agreed that the Ministry will create and release a timetable forecasting steps for the development of recovery strategies for the 37 species at risk named in the application.

The timetable will be updated every calendar quarter with information reflecting the latest progress made in developing recovery strategies for the 37 species at risk.

Recovery strategies provide scientific advice on how to ensure that healthy numbers of each species return to Ontario.

Animal Justice and the MNRF share a commitment to the effective implementation of the Endangered Species Act, 2007.

Quotes:

“I am pleased that Ontario will be enhancing transparency and sharing public updates on our collaboration with federal partners to complete recovery strategies for these 37 species. I am proud of my ministry’s ongoing commitment to protecting species at risk, and the many accomplishments that it has made in implementing the Endangered Species Act, 2007 including completing recovery strategies for 127 species at risk.”

Nathalie Des Rosiers
Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry

“As the Endangered Species Act itself recognizes, species of animals, plants and other organisms are being lost throughout the world at an alarming rate due to human activities. Animal Justice applauds the Ministry’s commitment to transparency in the development of recovery strategies, which are critical to healthy wild animal and plant populations in Ontario. It is more important than ever before for Ontario to do our part to protect vulnerable animals and other species from disappearing forever.”

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director and lawyer, Animal Justice

“We applaud the Ministry’s move towards greater transparency in its efforts to protect species in Ontario. The quarterly updates will be an important tool for the public, organizations like Ecojustice and Animal Justice, and for the Ministry to continue working collaboratively to ensure the recovery of these 37 species.”

Amir Attaran and Josh Ginsberg
Lawyers, Ecojustice law clinic at the University of Ottawa

Quick Facts:

  • Coming into force in 2008, Ontario’s Endangered Species Act will mark its 10th anniversary this year
  • Under the Act, species can be listed as “endangered, threatened, special concern or extirpated”
  • Under section 11 of the Act, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry shall ensure that recovery strategies are prepared within one year from the time of listing for an endangered species, and within two years for threatened species, except as provided for under the Act
  • There is on-going collaboration between Ontario and the federal government in the development of recovery strategies
  • To date, Ontario has published recovery strategies for 127 species at risk. 37 recovery strategies remained to be published at the time of the application

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Additional Resources:

For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

 

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Animal Justice Will Intervene in Lawsuit Challenging Ontario Animal Protection Laws

Animal Justice April 23, 2018

PERTH—National animal law non-profit Animal Justice has been granted intervener status in a lawsuit that attempts to strike down key aspects of provincial animal welfare laws and their enforcement.

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.

“This case could weaken protections for millions of animals in Ontario—not just family pets like cats and dogs, but also animals confined in farms, fur farms, zoos, and aquariums,” said Camille Labchuk, lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice. “It could also have national ramifications, potentially affecting the validity of animal protection laws and enforcement in other provinces. Animal Justice will be there to ensure the animals and their interests are represented in court.”

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 over 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.

The case is scheduled to be heard in the Superior Court of Justice in Perth, Ontario on Wednesday, May 16. Animal Justice is represented by lawyers Arden Beddoes of Arvay Finlay LLP, and Benjamin Oliphant of Gall Legge Grant Zwack LLP.

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

For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

 

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Yes, I want to stay in touch! 

Animal Justice

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Vancouver Aquarium Drops Copyright Lawsuit Against Filmmaker

Animal Justice March 8, 2018

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Aquarium has dropped its copyright lawsuit against filmmaker Gary Charbonneau. The Aquarium filed a notice of discontinuance in the case this week, shortly before CEO John Nightingale was set to be cross-examined by counsel for Mr. Charbonneau.

The Aquarium first filed the copyright infringement lawsuit against Mr. Charbonneau in 2016 over his documentary Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered, which exposed the Aquarium’s cruel practice of confining sentient whales and dolphins in concrete tanks. The lawsuit was deemed a misuse of copyright law by legal experts, designed to suppress public criticism and debate through the court process.

The Aquarium sought to have the entire documentary removed from the internet, and was successful in obtaining a preliminary injunction ordering that certain segments be removed. On appeal, the B.C. Court of Appeal overturned that injunction, emphasizing the importance of Mr. Charbonneau’s freedom of expression.

Animal Justice intervened in the appeal to express concerns that the case could negatively affect the ability of animal advocates to film, expose, and publicize animal cruelty issues across Canada, emboldening secretive animal use industries to file illegitimate copyright lawsuits to silence animal advocates. This could prevent them from investigating, documenting, and exposing hidden animal cruelty.

“I am delighted this frivolous lawsuit has finally been dropped,” said Mr. Charbonneau. “However, I remain troubled by the Aquarium’s aggressive litigation strategy, and I am concerned they will continue to fight losing legal battles at the expense of conservation and rescue.”

“We are glad the Aquarium has finally determined to drop its unmeritorious lawsuit and let the documentary speak for itself, so that Canadians can make their own judgments about the ethics of the Aquarium’s practices,” said Arden Beddoes of Arvay Finlay LLP, counsel to Mr. Charbonneau.

“This lawsuit had disturbing implications for those who investigate, document, and expose animal cruelty,” said Camille Labchuk, a lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice. “The writing is on the wall for the cruel captivity industry, as the public no longer supports keeping sentient animals confined for entertainment.”

The Aquarium also sought judicial review of the Vancouver Park Board’s bylaw banning them from keeping whales and dolphins in Stanley Park. The bylaw was overturned last month, but the Park Board is appealing to the B.C. Court of Appeal.

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The Notice of Discontinuance is available here.

For more information, contact:

Gary Charbonneau
evotioninc@gmail.com

Arden Beddoes
Arvay Finlay LLP
abeddoes@arvayfinlay.ca

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director, Animal Justice
camille@animaljustice.ca

Animal Justice

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