Legal action in practice

Advocacy work

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Animal Justice

Animal Justice is Canada’s leading animal advocacy group, bringing lawyers and activists together to help make Canada a better place for animals. Our group works hard to advocate for better animal welfare laws, educate Canadians about unfair treatment of animals, and litigate on behalf of animals themselves. I have been a member of a consultation group – the Board of Advisors – since the group was founded in 2008. In 2016, I took a more active role with the organization, becoming a member of the Board of Directors tasked with overseeing Animal Justice’s operation and future role.

Arguing for animals in Canada’s Supreme Court – and making a difference!

This is the first time in Canadian history that the top court has considered any legislation directly protecting animals. It’s also one of the first times that animal advocates have been granted permission to make oral arguments before the Supreme Court. Animal Justice intervened to ensure the Supreme Court hears the perspective of countless animals who have no voices of their own. Whatever the outcome of the case, it was a victory for us to be there and speak for them.

The case – Her Majesty the Queen v. D.L.W. – was an appeal from a decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal that seriously weakened the Criminal Code offence of bestiality. Instead of ensuring that all sexual abuse of animals remains illegal, the Court of Appeal ruled that only the penetration of animals is an offence. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court upheld that decision, indicating that changes were for Parliament to make.

As an intervener in the case, Animal Justice ensured that the Court heard why preventing harm to vulnerable animals is not only a fundamental societal value, but also a key objective of Canadian criminal law. We certainly managed to convince the dissenting judge, Abella J., of that fact!

Read Animal Justice’s Factum.
Read Animal Justice’s Motion to Intervene in the appeal.
View the British Columbia Court of Appeal decision.


Making headlines

Animals have legal interests that must be protectedOpinion article by Camille Labchuk, Executive Director, Animal Justice, Huffington Post. Nov 2016

Animals got their day in court last week, thanks to Animal Justice. On Monday, November 9, law professor Peter Sankoff and I went to the Supreme Court of Canada to intervene in a groundbreaking appeal. We spoke words that had never before been heard in court: “Animal Justice is here to represent the interests of animals. ...more

Peter Sankoff on the Travis Vader verdictNational Post, Sept 2016

This week’s Travis Vader murder verdict offered a vivid illustration of some of the best and worst features of Canadian criminal justice. ...more

The Anita Kranjc trialInterview with Peter Sankoff in the Huffington Post, Aug 2016

Law professor Peter Sankoff is a respected expert in both criminal and animal rights law. So when animal activist Anita Krajnc was charged with criminal mischief for giving water to a heat-stressed animal aboard a transport truck last summer, Professor Sankoff naturally took an interest in the case. ...more

Is being a vegan a human right?National Post, Feb 2016

It’s a question the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal may soon tackle after an update to the provincial definition of “creed”. ...more

Lawyers give animals a voice in courtThe Guardian, Jan 2016

Animal rights lawyer and former P.E.I. resident, Camille Labchuck and University of Alberta law professor, Peter Sankoff, before appearing in the Supreme Court of Canada recently to intervene on a landmark case regarding beastiality laws. The two appeared on behalf of Canadian charity Animal Justice. ...more