Say one thing for the people in Canada’s animal rights movement–there’s no quit in any of them.
And they are scoring some hard-earned victories.
For one of the first years ever, there were no elephants in circuses in Canada and the province of Prince Edward Island banned circuses with wild animals and cancelled a pig scramble event after activists complained to authorities that chasing terrified baby pigs around a ring is illegal.
And Animal Justice Canada released an undercover exposé of the Papanack Zoo near Ottawa, prompting calls for Ontario to license and regulate zoos.
So the activists battle on in the face of apathy by many and against what they see as entrenched industries that have a lot more money and clout to defend their interests.
Legal battles are joined, but the real trick, the activists believe, is to raise consciousness about the plight of too many animals.
Consciousness, they say, will lead to more and more compassion for animal victims–whether they be laboratory rats, hemmed-in salmon, mammals in aquariums, animals in zoos, chickens confined to tiny cages, farmed animals spending their final hours in misery and abused dogs and cats.
That raised consciousness and compassion, the activists believe, can lead to legislation, furthering activist causes.
In October, animal rights activists celebrated what they called a “huge victory” in the Senate when the upper chamber’s fisheries committee voted to move forward with Bill S-203, legislation that would ban keeping whales and dolphins in Canadian aquariums.
The decision came almost two years after the bill was introduced in the Senate and followed seven months of hearings by the fisheries committee and 30 years of confrontations between animal activists and Canadian aquariums, of which there are now just two–Ontario’s Marineland and British Columbia’s Vancouver Aquarium.
The bill, which was scheduled to go to the full Senate for a vote has been stalled by politics, but activists believe they have the needed votes for the legislation to pass when it does get to the Senate floor and then–if passed–moves to the House of Commons, where earlier this month, Conservative MP Michelle Rempel tabled a private member’s bill to amend the Criminal Code to close the loopholes in Canada’s laws when it comes to bestiality.
So for animal activists, the battle continues amidst growing optimism that–with the help of the Canadian public–they will prevail.
For some perspective on 2017 and a look ahead to 2018, I spoke by phone with Anna Pippus at her home in Vancouver.
Pippus is an animal rights lawyer, strategist and activist who is Director of Farmed Animal Advocacy for Animal Justice Canada.Listen