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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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EXPOSED: Filth and Fraud in the Canadian Meat Industry

Animal Justice August 5, 2017

The Canadian meat industry did NOT have a good week! Two disturbing meat stories grabbed headlines, reminding the public that animal cruelty, contamination, and false labelling run rampant in animal slaughter and processing.

A Vancouver Sun article exposed B.C. slaughterhouse inspection records obtained under freedom of information laws. Inspectors documented botched animal slaughter, rotting flesh on live animals, insects, and filthy, unsanitary conditions. Many slaughterhouses were contaminated due to improper cleaning, inadequate disinfection, rodent dropping, and insects.

One inspector reported that workers shocked pigs mercilessly with electric cattle prods while screaming at the animals.

In another case, a frightened cow jumped away from the kill floor and couldn’t regain footing for 6 minutes. After breaking a glass jar, he fell back onto the kill floor and was improperly shot, suffering for several minutes before being shot again and bleeding out. Two other cows were terrified by the chaos and broke two boards in their holding pen while frantically trying to escape.

In another report, a cow’s udder was seen detaching from her body, and a vile odour was present, suggesting her flesh was rotting away.

Another inspector documented an overcrowded trailer, which killed 15 birds because of a failure to provide proper airflow.

Fines for slaughterhouse violations are $100,000 for a first conviction and $200,000 per day for a second offence. Despite these extensive animal cruelty and food safety violations, not a single B.C. facility has faced a fine or suspension of operations.

Meanwhile, a University of Guelph study revealed that one in five sausages from grocery stores across Canada contain meat from an animal not disclosed on the label. Of the 27 cow flesh sausages examined, seven actually contained pig meat. One of the 38 pig meat sausages studied contained horse meat. Four out of 20 chicken sausages contained turkey flesh, and one contained cow. Five of the 15 turkey sausages examined were actually made from chickens, with no turkey at all.

And the researchers don’t believe this is simply a case of trace amounts. Instead, the meat-mixing points to either intentional fraud, or major errors in processing.

The meat industry prioritizes profits while misleading consumers, and disregarding animal protection laws and food safety standards. Thanks to the power of media exposés, more and more consumers are aware of the dark side of this industry.

 

 

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Animal Justice

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It’s Shark Week! Here’s How We’ll End Shark Finning For Good

Animal Justice July 24, 2017

It’s Shark Week, an annual Discovery Channel celebration of all things shark. Did you know that sharks have brain-to-body mass ratios similar to mammals and birds, and love to investigate and play?

Sadly, 100 million sharks are killed by humans every year, often just for their fins—they are pulled from the water, have their fins sliced off with a hot blade, and are dumped back in the water where they slowly die from suffocation or predation.

In 2006, the Canadian documentary Sharkwater showed how shark hunting industries are driving sharks to extinction, destroying our oceans, and endangering all life on earth. The award-winning film galvanized a movement to protect sharks, leading to policies all over the world banning shark finning or the sale of shark fin products.

Canada has yet to ban shark fin products, but shark finning is restricted in Canadian waters. And good news: earlier this year, a bill was introduced into Senate, Bill S-238, that would ban shark fin importation, which would effectively end the sale of these products in Canada. Then, in an unusual but exciting move, Toronto City Council voted 38 to 4 to officially support the federal bill.

What can you do? Please write to your federal MP to tell them about Bill S-238 and voice your support for sharks. You might also consider asking your municipal politicians to formally endorse the federal law, just like Toronto did.

Together, we’ll save our sharks and oceans!

Animal Justice

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