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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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Over 800 Million Animals Were Killed for Food in 2017 in Canada

Animal Justice April 18, 2018

OTTAWA—Data released by the federal government and analyzed by Animal Justice shows that over 800 million farmed animals were killed in Canadian slaughterhouses last year. This record-breaking figure is a steady increase over previous years, up from 771 million in 2016 and 750 million in 2015.

The growth is largely because Canadians are switching to chicken and away from beef and pork because of health concerns. Chickens are much smaller animals, so it takes many more of them to meet the demand for meat previously absorbed by larger cows and pigs.

However, a large body of evidence demonstrates that diets rich in animal foods and low in plant-based foods have negative health consequences. Predominantly plant-based diets that include legumes (such as beans, lentils, and tofu) are associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, some forms of cancer, and obesity, and with increased longevity.

In 2016—the most recent year for which data is available—Canadians consumed 87.56 kilograms of meat per capita (this figure includes food waste). Globally, according to the OECD, this number is only 34.3 kilograms. The OECD also points out that the global meat industry “has significant environmental and health consequences for the planet.”

Paradoxically, the number of vegans and people choosing to consume less meat continues to grow, especially among young people.

“As Canadians become more aware of the negative impacts of the meat industry on animal welfare, the environment, and our own health, our first step is often to replace red meats with chicken,” said lawyer Anna Pippus, director of farmed animal advocacy for Animal Justice. “However, many don’t realize that this trend is actually worse for animals. Since chickens are so small, it takes many more of them to satisfy our intense demand for inexpensive meat. On modern Canadian farms, chickens endure heartbreaking cruelty from birth to death. Genetically selected to grow so quickly, many become lame, separated from their families, confined indoors for their entire lives, and ultimately killed at a fraction of their natural lifespan.”

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For more information, contact:

Anna Pippus
Director of Farmed Animal Advocacy
apippus@animaljustice.ca

 

 

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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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