New Ontario “Ag Gag” Law Will Soon Make Undercover Investigations Illegal at Farms and Slaughterhouses
TORONTO – Shocking hidden-camera video of animal abuse secretly recorded at an Ontario pig farm is being released by Animal Justice, a national animal law advocacy organization.
The disturbing undercover video, narrated by singer Jann Arden, is likely to be the last legal exposé of animal abuse at an Ontario farm. In June, the Ford government passed a so-called “ag gag” law—agricultural gag legislation—which aims to make undercover investigations illegal. The new law will come into force shortly. The meat industry is lobbying for these dangerous laws across the country. Alberta has also passed an ag gag law, and Manitoba and Quebec are considering doing so.
Wired with a hidden camera, an Animal Justice whistleblower worked for approximately six weeks at Paragon Farms in Putnam, Ontario—a pig breeding facility. The disturbing undercover video reveals:
- Workers violently beating, kicking, and hitting mother pigs, including with paddles and boards;
- Pregnant mother pigs caged for most of their lives in barren metal gestation and farrowing crates, so small that they cannot even turn around or nestle with their piglets;
- Pigs suffering from painful injuries and wounds without proper veterinary care;
- A pregnant, injured pig shot to death before workers sliced her open to remove her piglets from her womb.
- Piglets having their testes and tails sliced off without any pain relief;
- Pigs fed mouldy food, and left without water for days; and
- Filthy conditions, including mould, manure, maggots, and cobwebs.
Animal Justice filed an animal cruelty complaint and a workplace health and safety complaint. Provincial animal welfare inspectors are investigating the abuse and neglect at Paragon.
“Factory farms lock animals up behind closed doors with no regulations to protect their welfare, and no government oversight,” said Camille Labchuk, lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice. “Undercover exposés like this one are often the only way to uncover the egregious cruelty at factory farms and slaughterhouses in Canada. Over and over again, hidden-camera footage has revealed a troubling pattern of abuse, neglect, and illegal animal cruelty in the meat, dairy, and egg industries.
“Instead of passing ag gag laws to keep farm cruelty videos off the nightly news, the government should be passing laws to protect farmed animals from this horrible suffering. Dangerous ag gag laws that shield abusers and conceal cruelty have no place in Canada.”
Alberta and Ontario have already passed ag gag laws, making it illegal to gain access to a farm through “false pretences”, thus punishing advocates or journalists who seek a job on a farm without revealing their intention to document animal abuse, workplace conditions, or food safety concerns. Penalties for violating ag gag laws in Alberta are up to $25,000 for individuals and $200,000 for organizations, and potentially jail time.
Ag gag laws were first passed in the United States, but they have been struck down as unconstitutional in Idaho, Utah, Iowa, North Carolina, Wyoming, and Kansas. Canadian legal experts have warned that Canadian ag gag laws violate the Charter right to free expression, and Animal Justice intends to challenge ag gag laws in court.
Broadcast-quality images and video footage is available upon request.
Camille Labchuk, Executive Director, [email protected]