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Animal Justice Going to Court in Lawsuit Challenging Removal of Anti-Canada Goose Ads on TTC Shelters

Animal Justice September 3, 2019

Animal Justice has been granted intervener status in a case challenging the removal of anti-Canada Goose ads from Toronto transit shelters. The case could have broad implications for animals, and will decide whether animal advocates have the right to advertise on city property, or whether municipalities can discriminate against groups and individuals that speak up… Read more » Animal Justice

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Ontario Government Sued Over Inaction on Species Protection

Animal Justice September 20, 2017

Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources has unlawfully delayed recovery strategies for 37 endangered or threatened Ontario species, says animal rights group

TORONTO — National animal law organization Animal Justice, represented by Ecojustice lawyers, is taking legal action to force Ontario Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources Kathryn McGarry to issue recovery strategies for 37 species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The mountain lion and Northern Bobwhite, both listed as “endangered” since the ESA became law in 2008, are among the 37 species left in the lurch due to the Minister’s inaction, the group says.

“The Minister’s unlawful delays have left dozens of vulnerable species without the protection they are supposed to have under the law,” said Nick Wright, Animal Justice’s founder and board chair. “More than 10 years have passed since the mountain lion and Northern Bobwhite were listed as endangered. And let’s be clear, endangered means that a species is facing imminent extinction or extirpation.”

A review by Ecojustice found that the Minister has repeatedly violated section 11 of the ESA, which requires the Minister to issue recovery strategies within one and two years of a species being listed endangered or threatened, respectively.

In many cases, such as that of the mountain lion, the Minister has simply, and unlawfully, allowed deadlines to pass by — effectively leaving the vulnerable species with minimal legal protections indefinitely.

In other instances, the Ontario government has delayed protection for endangered and threatened species by hinging its recovery strategies to the federal government’s protection efforts, even when the latter has done little or nothing to protect the species.  For example, the Minister has dithered on her legal obligation to deliver a recovery strategy for the threatened black redhorse — a large river fish — since 2008, stating that she wishes to do so cooperatively with the federal government.  But her reasoning is nonsensical given that the federal government decided a decade ago, in 2007, not to protect the species.

Likewise, for the Northern Bobwhite, the Minister has chosen not to issue Ontario’s recovery strategy, and has instead taken a back seat to the federal government which she claims is “leading the development of recovery strategies”.  Trouble is, the federal government’s legal deadline to issue a recovery strategy for this endangered bird expired in 2006 — 11 years ago. Thus when the Minister says that the federal government is “leading”, what she appears to suggest is that where the federal government is willing to break the law, Ontario is willing to follow.

“The Ministry’s use of the ESA’s flexibility provisions is dubious,” said Amir Attaran, lawyer with Ecojustice’s law clinic at the University of Ottawa. “The province says it wants to cooperate with the federal government, but the nature of these delays has left us wondering if this is cooperation or a conspiracy to break the law.”

The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario has criticized the government for failing to implement the ESA effectively. In a 2013 report entitled Laying Siege to the Last Line of Defence, the Commissioner noted a “disturbing trend” of the Ministry of Natural Resources “using the ESA’s flexibility provisions to permit broad, open-ended extensions on the development of recovery strategies.” The Commissioner went on to write that the Ministry appeared “comfortable using flexibility provisions not in exceptional circumstances, but as a matter of practice.”

“Ontario touts the ESA as the most progressive endangered species law in North America,” said Attaran. “The Minister’s foot-dragging has rendered this legislation a paper tiger — or in this case, a paper mountain lion — so we’re taking her to court.”

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Animal Justice leads the legal fight for animals in Canada. Our lawyers work to pass strong new animal protection legislation, push for the prosecution of animal abusers, and fight for animals in court.

Ecojustice, Canada’s largest environmental law charity, uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change and fight for a healthy environment for all.

 

Link to reference

Laying Siege to the Last Line of Defence, 2013

 

For more media inquiries, please contact:

Nick Wright, Founder and Chair of the Board, Animal Justice
nwright@animaljustice.ca
416-915-4139

Amir Attaran, Lawyer, Ecojustice law clinic at the University of Ottawa
aattaran@ecojustice.ca
613-562-5800 ext 2015

 

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Animal Justice

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Animal Justice Seeks Leave To Intervene In Vancouver Aquarium Appeal

Animal Justice September 28, 2016

VANCOUVER – National animal law organization Animal Justice is asking the B.C. Court of Appeal for permission to intervene in an important appeal that could affect the ability of animal advocates to do undercover investigations into animal cruelty, and to otherwise film, photograph, and expose animal abuse.

The case is an appeal of a decision of the B.C. Supreme Court in a lawsuit filed by the Vancouver Aquarium against filmmaker Gary Charbonneau. Mr. Charbonneau’s film Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered criticized the Aquarium for its practice of keeping and breeding whales and dolphins in captivity. In response, the Aquarium sued Mr. Charbonneau for violation of copyright, and sought an injunction to have the film removed from the internet.

The Aquarium was partially successful in April when the judge hearing the injunction ordered that 15 segments with nearly five minutes worth of material be removed from the film. The Aquarium claimed copyright over these segments, which included material from its website and footage shot at its facility–despite well-established limits on copyright law that allow users to reproduce copyrighted material for many purposes, including criticism and news reporting.

Legal experts have called the Aquarium’s lawsuit an abuse of copyright law that improperly attempts to silence legitimate criticism and shut down robust public debate. In May, the B.C. Court of Appeal granted Mr. Charbonneau leave to appeal the injunction decision.

“Films and undercover investigation videos are powerful tools to expose hidden animal suffering and spark social and legal change,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “If the injunction decision is not overturned, animal use industries will be emboldened to launch bogus copyright lawsuits to silence animal advocates and prevent them from exposing and publicizing animal abuse through undercover investigations, films, and photographs.

“This case could be Canada’s own version of “ag gag” laws–the troubling statutes passed by many U.S. states that criminalize filming animal abuse on farms.

“Animal Justice is hopeful that the court will accept our application to intervene in this crucial case so we can protect the ability to film, photograph, and expose animal suffering.”

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For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

Animal Justice

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