A federal ag gag bill has passed its first vote in Parliament and is moving to the committee stage for further study. Ag gag law Bill C-275 threatens to jail undercover farm worker whistleblowers and animal advocates who go onto farms to expose animal cruelty, and hit them with fines of up to half a million dollars.
Bill C-275 was introduced over a year ago, and is strikingly similar to a federal ag gag bill that failed to pass in the last session of parliament. Both bill were introduced by Conservative MP John Barlow, under the guise of reducing disease risks on farms.
But according to government data analyzed by Animal Justice, disease outbreaks are usually due to standard farming practices or poor biosecurity protocols by farm operators—never by undercover workers, or other animal advocates. The bill is clearly intended to keep concerned citizens out of farms, all to hide the rampant animal suffering that is common in the meat industry.
Mr. Barlow’s last ag gag bill was strongly opposed by compassionate people across the country, and Animal Justice supporters mobilized to send in concerns to their members of Parliament. Together in a huge victory, we were able to get the bill amended so that farm owners and operators could also be held accountable for disease risks on farms. The bill died when the 2021 federal election was called.
Ag Gag Laws Are a National Threat
Canadians are animal lovers, yet paradoxically, Canada has some of the weakest animal protection laws in the Western world. Canada lacks provincial and federal laws regulating the treatment of animals on farms, as well as proactive on-farm government inspections to monitor conditions and ensure the well-being of farmed animals.
Ag gag laws also raise constitutional concerns. Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms safeguards the right to free expression. Yet by making it illegal to go undercover at a farm or slaughterhouse to expose animal cruelty, ag gag laws threaten Charter-protected rights. Since So far, ag gag laws have been passed into law in Alberta, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Manitoba.
Animal Justice is challenging Ontario’s ag gag law in court and is fighting to stop ag gag laws nationwide. In the US, where ag gag laws first took hold, courts in six states have now struck down ag gag laws as an unconstitutional violation of free speech.
Now is the time to help us fight. For a limited time, all new monthly gifts to Animal Justice are being MATCHED by a generous donor. Give today and help our legal team defeat ag gag laws from coast to coast.
Banner: Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals Media