“Ag-Gag in Canada and the Constitutional Right to See”
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Jodi Lazare, Assistant Professor of Law, Dalhousie University.
Maneesha Deckha, Lansdowne Chair in Law, University of Victoria.
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Recently adopted legislation in two Canadian provinces imposes severe penalties for trespassing on, or gaining entry under false pretenses, private property used for animal agriculture; it also restricts interfering with the transport of farmed animals to slaughter. These laws (dubbed “ag-gag” laws in the United States, where they were first introduced) respond to undercover investigations on farms, the peaceful occupation of farms, and the act of bearing witness to animals headed for slaughter. This presentation suggests that these laws constitute an unjustifiable limit on the right to freedom of expression as protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It does so by rejecting the traditional anthropocentric understanding of constitutional rights, according to which Charter protections are limited to the interests of humans and relations between them. Instead, by emphasizing the ethical and political aspects of animal rights advocacy, it places interspecies relations and the ethics of animal rights at the centre of the constitutional protections.