Legal challenge to anti-whistleblower law begins October 30
TORONTO—A legal fight over animal abuse videos will heat up next week, as Animal Justice takes Ontario to court to strike down an agricultural gag law (aka “Ag-Gag law”) banning animal advocates from going undercover to investigate animal cruelty at farms and slaughterhouses. Ag-Gag laws in the US have already been struck down as unconstitutional by judges in six states, and this is the first legal challenge to a Canadian Ag-Gag law.
The lawsuit also challenges restrictions on peaceful protests outside slaughterhouses where advocates bear witness to animals inside trucks on their way to be killed. Animal Justice is joined in the case by journalist Jessica Scott-Reid, and animal advocate Louise Jorgensen of Toronto Cow Save.
The case begins on Monday, October 30, 2023, and there will be a rally outside the courthouse in Toronto in support of the legal challenge.
Who: Animal Justice and supporters, including spokespeople for Animal Justice and other animal protection groups.
What: A rally to draw public attention to the Ford government’s dangerous laws banning undercover exposés at farms and slaughterhouses. Photo, video, and interview opportunities.
When: October 30. Court hearing starts at 10 am. Rally begins at 12:45 pm.
Where: Superior Court of Justice, 330 University Avenue, Toronto, courtroom 5-1. The rally will take place outside the courthouse. The hearing will also be streamed here on Zoom, passcode 904565.
Why: Animal cruelty on farms is common but hard to detect, because there are no government regulations or inspections for animal welfare on farms. Undercover investigations—where a person gets a job at a farm and films what they see—regularly expose shocking abuse on video, and have resulted in major media features, prosecutions, and convictions. The Doug Ford government banned advocates and journalists from working undercover on farms in 2020 after pressure from the farm lobby, which had been embarrassed by these hidden-camera exposés. Ontario’s Ag-Gag law is an unconstitutional attempt to stifle free expression, hide widespread animal abuse, and prevent people from knowing where their food comes from.
For more information on Ag-Gag laws, see here.
Written arguments of the parties are available below.
Applicants – Animal Justice, Jessica Scott Reid, and Louise Jorgensen.
Respondent – Attorney General of Ontario
Intervener – Centre for Free Expression
Intervener – Regan Russell Foundation
Intervener – Animal Alliance of Canada
Executive Director, Animal Justice