On December 5, 2020 Ontario brought its ag gag laws in effect—just days after Animal Justice released undercover footage of violent animal abuse and filthy conditions at a pig factory farm in Putnam, Ontario.
In June of this year, Ontario passed the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, a troubling law that aims to punish whistleblowers who expose animal suffering at farms, slaughterhouses, and during transport. But the law didn’t come into effect right away, because the government was still drafting regulations to accompany it. During this time, Animal Justice went undercover at a Paragon Farms pig breeding facility, gathering footage that may be the last hidden-camera images from inside an Ontario farm.
Animal Justice’s undercover footage was featured in a half-hour segment on the CTV investigative affairs show W5. The graphic footage depicted egregious abuse and neglect of mother pigs and piglets that is common in the farming industry, including:
- pigs beaten with paddles, and aggressively kicked and hit by workers;
- piglets being castrated and having their tails sliced off without pain relief;
- mother pigs forced to live in crates that are so small they can’t turn around or interact normally with each other;
- pigs suffering from painful injuries without adequate veterinary care;
- filthy conditions, including maggots and mould;
- pigs forced to eat their own excrement and mouldy food.
Thousands of people in Ontario, across Canada, and around the world wrote to legislators after this shocking exposé, demanding that elected officials reject undemocratic and secretive ag gag laws. It’s disappointing that the government in Ontario chose to bring the law into effect, instead of listening to the public and scrapping this dangerous law.
What we found at Paragon Farms is shocking, but cruelty like this is standard on modern farms in Canada. Governments don’t bother to regulate or monitor the treatment of animals on farms—instead letting the meat industry make up its own rules, without public scrutiny. This is why undercover exposés are one of the only chances to show people the truth about rampant suffering behind the closed doors of factory farms.
Undercover exposés in Canada have led to animal cruelty prosecutions and convictions, and every single one has shown heartbreaking neglect and mistreatment.
But Animal Justice lawyers along with dozens of legal experts across Canada believe that ag gag laws like the one passed in Ontario are likely unconstitutional, and violate the Charter-protect right to free expression. That’s why we’ll be going to court to challenge this law, along with other ag gag laws that are being lobbied for and passed in provinces across Canada.
Please consider joining our fight to stop ag gag laws to help foster a compassionate future for the millions of farmed animals who suffer in our food system.