2016 Pro Bono & Humane Legislator Awards Recognize Outstanding Advocates

The year 2016 was a landmark one for Animal Justice. We celebrated important legal victories on behalf of animals, and we also took the time to recognize some of the outstanding advocates who made that work possible this year with our first ever Pro Bono awards and Humane Legislator award.

2016 Humane Legislator Award

Revising Canada’s outdated animal protection laws is essential to ensuring animals live free from abuse and suffering. But fixing our laws depends on having compassionate politicians sitting in Parliament, legislatures, and city councils who can advance strong new animal protection laws. Our 2016 Humane Legislator Award recognizes a politician who took a strong stand against animal cruelty.

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, Member of Parliament, Beaches—East York


The Animal Justice 2016 Humane Legislator Award goes to MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith for his outstanding work to modernize Canada’s federal animal protection laws. Mr. Erskine-Smith, a lawyer, introduced private member’s Bill C-246, which would have closed loopholes in animal cruelty laws, outlawed shark fin imports, and banned cat and dog fur. Although C-246 did not pass into law, Mr. Erskine-Smith’s efforts resulted in an outpouring of support for protecting animals which helped catapult animal protection issues onto the federal government’s agenda.

2016 Pro Bono Awards

Animal Justice’s legal work to help animals is greatly assisted by the hundreds of pro bono hours donated by compassionate lawyers who care deeply about animal protection. Our 2016 Pro Bono Awards recognize four lawyers who represented us in groundbreaking legal cases this year.

Peter Sankoff, University of Alberta

Peter Sankoff, a law professor and Animal Justice advisory, represented us in our intervention at the Supreme Court of CanadaThanks to his efforts, we convinced the country’s top court to recognize—for the first time in history—that protecting animals is an important societal value.


Marc McLaren-Caux, Conway Davis Gryski LLP

Marc McLaren-Caux of Conway Davis Grisky LLP in Toronto courageously acted as counsel to Animal Justice in our attempt to protect 21 dogs—rescued from an alleged dog fighting ring—from being unfairly executed in Chatham, Ontario.


Bryan McLean, Lindsay LLP


Bryan McLean is representing Animal Justice in our intervention in a lawsuit filed by the Vancouver Aquarium at the British Columbia Court of Appeal. The Aquarium is wrongly trying to silence a film that criticizes keeping whales and dolphins in captivity, and our intervention is aimed at protecting the free speech rights of advocates who expose animal cruelty.


Marc Isaacs, Isaacs & Co.

Marc Isaacs represented Animal Justice in a Durham Region police tribunal case, to help a police officer charged with discreditable conduct for rescuing a kitten in distress. Thanks to his efforts, the police changed their position to admit that rescuing animals is part of the police duty to preserve all life—including that of animals.